Session: Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice with Logic Models to Advance Smart Decarceration (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

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SSWR 2024 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 11. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

175 Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice with Logic Models to Advance Smart Decarceration

Friday, January 12, 2024: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Matthew Epperson, PhD, University of Chicago
Matthew Epperson, PhD, University of Chicago, Samantha Guz, MSSW, University of Chicago and Sophia P. Sarantakos, PhD, MSW, University of Denver
There is a persistent disconnect between theory, research, and practice, both within the social work profession as well as in the criminal legal system. Community-engaged research has been suggested as an approach to bridge this divide, but specific tools are needed to integrate research and practice efforts. Similarly, social work students often struggle with articulating multi-level practice approaches that are grounded in research evidence and sound theory. If the social work profession is to realize its goal of advancing smart decarceration, our research and educational efforts must facilitate the bridging of problem theory, program theory, and advocacy for meaningful systems change.

This roundtable will discuss various applications of logic models to bridge theory, research and practice in order to advance smart decarceration efforts. Our first panelist will discuss logic model development processes that occurred within collaborative research and practice efforts in the context of criminal legal programming, including: prosecutor-led diversion programs; a high-intensity drug court; and a multi-agency justice and mental health collaborative. We will describe the context and process of logic model development, how logic models were used by practitioners and researchers, and how the development process can facilitate community-engaged research.

Our second panelist will discuss the use of logic models as a classroom tool to help students develop smart decarceration interventions. As part of a MSW course on decarceration, students learn about logic model components, the development of problem theory and program theory. Based on their own research on a mass incarceration-related topic, students are assigned with developing a policy, practice, or research intervention to promote decarceration, including a detailed logic model of the intervention. This discussion will include examples of how students developed innovative intervention ideas and incorporated relevant theory and research through the development of logic models.

The third panelist will discuss how social work students and researchers can use logic models to advocate for more meaningful criminal legal system change and decarceration. Examples will be drawn from existing research/practice partnerships, where the refinement of logic models created opportunities for researchers to reorient and expand criminal legal interventions toward more socially just outcomes. Similarly, social work students created opportunities to focus on decarceration within their field placements by developing agency-based logic models. In both cases, the logic model became a tool for enhanced communication and planning, and brought innovative approaches to the surface.

Throughout these three discussions, we will engage with roundtable attendees in a variety of ways. First, we will discuss our own preconceptions of logic models, their perceived utility, and how to counteract negative perceptions of the tool. Next, we will facilitate a conversation about additional ways that logic models have been used to enhance research, education, and advocacy in social work. We will conclude with an exploration of innovative uses of logic models for social work research and education.

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