Grand Challenges for Social Work

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The Grand Challenges for Social Work is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science founded and coordinated by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. It’s a call to action for the field of social work to work together to tackle our nation’s toughest social problems.

The Grand Challenges for Social Work represent a dynamic social agenda, focused on improving individual and family well-being, strengthening the social fabric, and helping create a more just society. Explore each of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work here

At Institute for Justice Research and Development, we co-lead the Promote smart decarceration Grand Challenge, which addresses those factors that have a direct and immediate impact on adult criminal justice system processes and an individual's experience in the adult criminal justice system.

The Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge is organized to substantially reduce the incarcerated population in jails and prison, redress racial, economic, behavioral health disparities among the incarcerated, and maximize public safety and community well-being.

Currently, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers engage in a variety of activities that will advance this Grand Challenge and ignite social work achievements, including work to reverse civic and legal exclusions for persons with criminal charges and convictions and make the reduction of racial and economic disparities a key outcome in all decarceration efforts. Further research is being conducted to identify data-driven ways to use incarceration primarily for the incapacitation of the most dangerous and to explore how to effectively reallocate resources to enhance community-based supports.

Read more about our work on the Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge here