I am an Assistant Professor in Social Work at the Ohio State University College of Social Work. I am a child welfare and family strengthening researcher, who uses developmental and family theories to investigate family processes-with an emphasis on father involvement-that benefit children, especially children of color and those from family backgrounds with low income. I employ a number of different approaches and methodologies in my research, which you can check out here. I use my work to inform family strengthening policies, relevant targets for parenting interventions, and clinical work with children and families, who experience a multitude of socioeconomic disadvantages. I completed a joint PhD in Social Work and Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Prior to graduate school, I worked as a licensed social worker and coordinated a mentoring program at a community-based youth empowerment program in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where I first gained an interest in studying father-child relationships in urban families. I also worked at the Institute for the Study of Child Development at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, examining the impact of a Sesame Street intervention for families with young children.
I am a proud alumna of Columbia University in New York, where I completed my master's degree in social work (MSW), focusing on international child welfare. I received my bachelor's degree in social work at Rutgers University, New Brunswick in New Jersey.
I am also a licensed clinical social worker in Michigan and New Jersey. I use my clinical knowledge and past experiences to inform my research and teaching.
NowThis Kids Featuring our Children's Book
On May 17, 2021, NowThis Kids invited my co-author, Emily Ku, and I to do an interview on our children's book, Young, Proud, and Sung-jee, as well as speak about ways to anti-Asian violence, including bullying affecting Asian and Asian American children. Check out the interview here.
Adventure Theater StoryTime of Our Children's Book
On May 16, 2021, the Young, Proud, and Sung-jee children's book team (including myself, Emily Ku, and Maggie Chen) did a read-aloud of our book at Adventure Teather's StoryTime as well as discuss how the book came to be and the impact its had so far in empowering Asian Pacific Islander children, families, and communities. Check out the recording here.
Anti-Asian Racism Children's Book: Young, Proud, and Sung-jee
In the summer of 2020, I wrote a children's book on fighting anti-Asian racism during COVID-19. The purpose of the book is to serve as an educational resource to help generate meaningful discussions between adults and children about anti-Asian racism.
This book is free and available for download here.
See the book recently highlighted in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summit at the University of Michigan, which includes a read-aloud. It has also received the DEI Impact Award at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Resilience and Leadership Award from the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
Using Social Media Data from Reddit to Examine the Concerns of Foster Families During COVID-19
I held a webinar on October 28, 2020, presenting my research on how foster families, including parents and children, are faring during COVID-19. Given the challenges involving child welfare workers accessing foster families during the pandemic, I introduced my work that relies on social media data from Reddit to better understand the most pressing concerns of foster families discuss on online forums during COVID-19.
Through the webinar, I identified areas child welfare workers, programs, and policies can intervene to ameliorate some of the challenges foster families are experiencing during the pandemic.
I presented my work with my co-author, Olivia D. Chang and a video recording of the webinar is available above or here.
Family Processes with a Focus on Father Involvement that Support Children's Wellbeing
My primary research area focuses on studying underlying family processes, with a focus on father involvement, that support children's development and wellbeing, especially those of children from unmarried couple families with low income. My dissertation, Family Processes Underlying Economic Insecurity, Father Involvement, and Child Outcomes in Low-Income Families, examines the links between low family income, material hardship, interparental conflict, father engagement, and children’s socioemotional outcomes. This work is funded by the highly competitive federal Family Strengthening Scholar's grant from the Administration for Children and Families (Children's Bureau), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (90PR0009). I use data from the Building Strong Families project, which includes a large and racially diverse sample of unmarried, heterosexual couples with young children (0-3 years). My work in this area includes:
Lee, S. J., Pace, G. T., Lee, J. Y., & Altschul, I. (2020). Parental relationship status as a moderator of the associations between mothers’ and fathers’ conflict behaviors and early child behavior problems. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886260520948514 (Impact Factor: 3.064)
Lee, J. Y., Volling, B. L., & Lee, S. J. (2020). Testing the father-child activation relationship theory: A replication study with low-income unmarried parents. Psychology of Men & Masculinities (Special Issue on Fathering: New Perspectives, Paradigms, and Possibilities). Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/men0000301 (Impact Factor: 1.926)
Lee, J. Y., Pace, G.T., Lee, S. J., & Altschul, I. (2019). The associations of constructive and destructive interparental conflict to child well-being among low-income families. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886260519835872 (Impact Factor: 3.064)
Lee, J. Y., Volling, B. L., Lee, S. J., & Altschul, I. (2019). Longitudinal relations between coparenting and father engagement in low-income residential and nonresidential father families. Journal of Family Psychology, 34(2), 226-236. doi:10.1037/fam0000612 (Impact Factor: 2.231)
Volling, B. L., Stevenson, M. M., Safyer, P., Gonzalez, R., & Lee, J. Y. (2019). In search of the father-infant activation relationship: A person-centered approach. Monographs of the Society of Research in Child Development, 84(1), 50–63. doi:10.1002/mono.12404 (Impact Factor: 2.387)
Lee, J. Y., Lee, S. J., Lin, M., Albuja, A. F., & Volling, B. (in preparation) Challenges and joys of becoming a first time parent amongst urban community fathers.
Lee, S. J., Pace, G. T., Lee, J. Y., & Knauer, H. (2018). The association of paternal warmth and parenting stress to child behavior problems. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.05.020 (Impact Factor: 1.383)
Lee, J. Y., Knauer, H. A., Lee, S. J., MacEachern, M., & Garfield, C. (2018). Father-inclusive perinatal parent education programs: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 142(1), 1-18. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-0437 (Impact Factor: 5.515)
Lee, J. Y., & Lee, S. J. (2018). Caring is masculine: Stay-at-home fathers and masculine identity. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 19(1), 47-58. doi:10.1037/men0000079 (Impact Factor: 1.926)
My next and future area of research I am developing includes prevention of child maltreatment (e.g., identifying risk factors that contribute to child maltreatment), clinical work with fathers at risk of maltreating their children, and systemic reform of the child welfare systems through consent decrees. Most recently, I have begun investigating the wellbeing of foster children and their families during COVID-19 using social media data, as well as the overrepresentation of children of color in the U.S. foster care system to better inform culturally responsive prevention interventions. My work in this area includes:
Lee, J. Y., Chang, O. D., & Ammari, T. (under review). Using social media data from Reddit to examine foster families' most pressing concerns and needs during COVID-19. Child Maltreatment. (Impact Factor: 2.900)
Lee, J. Y. (in press). Child welfare reform: The role of federal court oversight in child protective service workers’ caseloads. Child Abuse Review. (Impact Factor: 1.206)
Klika, J. B., Lee, S., & Lee, J. Y. (2019). Prevention of child maltreatment. In J. B. Klika & J. R. Conte (Eds.), The APSAC Handbook on Child Maltreatment, Fourth Edition (pp. 235-251). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Lee, J. Y., Grogan-Kaylor, A. C., Lee, S. J., Ammari, T., Lu, A., & Davis-Kean, P. (2020). Stay-at-home mothers’ and fathers’ discipline-related tweets. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 29(3), 817-830. doi:10.1007/s10826-019-01691-3 (Impact Factor: 1.016)
Lee, J. Y., Gilbert, T., Lee, S. J., & Staller, K. M. (2019). Reforming a system that cannot reform itself: Child welfare reform by class action lawsuits. Social Work, 64(4), 283-291. doi:10.1093/sw/swz029 (Impact Factor: 1.667)
Clinical Social Work Practice Using Technology
Aside from the three research areas mentioned above, I am also interested in using technology, including mobile devices and apps to engage in clinical social work practice with diverse client groups (e.g., Medicaid-eligible fathers enrolled in home visitation programs, new or expectant fathers, Latinx clients with low income). I explore both standalone and add-on programs to support existing interventions. Given the recent transition to teletherapy in my clinical practice in response to COVID-19, use of both computer and mobile devices to administer developmentally appropriate therapeutic services, including play therapy and trauma-informed care, to children with maltreatment histories is a growing interest of mine. Thus far, some of my work in this area of research includes:
Lee, S. J., & Lee, J. Y. (2020). Full report: Testing the feasibility of an interactive,mentor-based, text messaging program to increase fathers’ engagement in home visitations. Fatherhood Research & Practice Network. https://www.frpn.org/asset/testing-the-feasibility-interactive-mentor-based-text-messaging-program-increase-fathers%E2%80%99
Lee, S. J., Walsh, T. B., & Lee, J. Y. (2019). Mobile technology in social work practice. In L. Goldkind, L. Wolf, & Freddolino, P. P. (Eds.), Digital social work: Tools for practice with individuals, organizations, and communities (pp.54-71). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Lee, J. Y., & Harathi, S. (2015). Using mHealth in social work practice with low-income Hispanic patients. Health & Social Work, 40(4), 1-4. doi:10.1093/hsw/hlv078 (Impact Factor: 1.115)
Teaching & Mentoring
My teaching philosophy is focused on student-centered learning by using activities that allow them to leverage their individual curiosities and interests. Practicing student-centered learning also means recognizing individual differences in students for whom I create an inclusive and a welcoming learning environment by carefully considering how my students’ varied backgrounds and social identities shape their learning experiences. I incorporate the broader student-centered learning philosophy into three specific teaching goals: (1) critical thinking; (2) strong writing skills; and (3) interdisciplinary collaboration and communication. Students leave my classes with the ability to think critically about the intersections between social and racial justice issues and science, write clearly and cohesively, and work collaboratively across professions and disciplines.
Importantly, I use an anti-racist pedagogical framework in my teaching, which translates to decolonizing the curriculum by incorporating class and reading materials from BIPOC scholars, deconstructing the role of social work and social science in perpetuating systemic racism and White supremacy, encouraging my students to reflect on their privileges and social positionalities, decentering authority in the classroom by giving ample opportunities for my students to lead discussions, and creating a sense of community by emphasizing collaborative learning amongst my students. In my support for and mentoring of diverse students, I set up individual meetings to lend extra support, share materials (e.g., data and analytic methods) generously, involve them in research projects including writing manuscripts, and practice cultural humility.
I use ample clinical examples derived from my own practice experience, as well as focus on introducing evidence-informed interventions and best practices with children and families. I am prepared to teach macro and micro/clinical social work, child development, community-based research with diverse families, as well as introductory and advanced methodological and statistical courses. I am also prepared to teach across all levels: undergraduate, master's, and doctoral. I look forward to applying my student-centered learning philosophy and teaching goals to all my classes.
Selected Mentoring Experiences
Alex Lu, PhD Student, University of Michigan
Muzi Lin, MS, University of Michigan
Fatherhood Research & Practice Network webinar
Huffington Post covered the study my colleagues at Rutgers University and the University of Michigan and I published that examined the links between creating a father-friendly healthcare environment and the promotion of father involvement by increasing men’s feelings of comfort and expectations of involvement in prenatal settings.
In this KUDOS article, I talk about the major findings of a study I published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence on the role of interparental conflict in child behavior problems amongst poor children. Check out the KUDOS article here!
Other News Articles Covering the Pediatrics Systematic Review
Several other news media outlets covered my systematic review published in Pediatrics:
U.S. News & World Report's Forgotten Fathers
MarketWatch Opinion's We Want Men to be Good Fathers, But We Don't Help Them Learn How
Pediatrics Journals Blog's All in for Dads!
The Conversation Piece on the Need for Father-Friendly Parent Education Programs
On March 13, 2018, I published an article in the Conversation about the general lack of early parent education programs for expectant men. The piece was published in conjunction with the Pediatrics article and press release above. Just in time for Father's Day! We discuss why the lack of early father-friendly parent education programs may be a missed opportunity and introduce clinical practices and promising programs to remedy this gap. The article can be found here.
Innovative service delivery models for child welfare: Promoting positive father engagement
The Fauri Memorial Conference is presented annually in recognition of former University of Michigan School of Social Work Dean and Vice President Fedele F. Fauri's accomplishment and leadership in child welfare. The 2015 conference presented the work of professors, practitioners, and service providers who study or work to promote positive father engagement. I wrote a piece about the conference featured on the University website.
Caring is masculine: Stay-at-home fathers and masculine identity
When men become stay-at-home-fathers (SAHFs), they develop new masculine identities that best support their caregiving role and experiences. Read more about our study on the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity website.