Assistant Professor, Faculty Affiliate, Institute
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marah A. Curtis is an assistant professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Curtis received her Ph.D. in social policy, planning and policy analysis at Columbia University School of Social Work in 2005 and was both a Council on Social Work Education and Columbia University Public Policy Consortium Fellow. Her research focuses on the effects of public policy on the well being of families with particular emphasis on housing policy and incarceration. This work seeks to untangle the impact of various public benefits and contextual factors on the lives of vulnerable families.
Health is a vital component in family well-being often overlooked for low-income, urban fathers. Labor market opportunities, parenting tasks and familial living are all impacted by the ability of both parents to function in their assigned roles. Fathers with poor health are more likely to have labor market difficulties, excessive expenses and may be forced to make trade-offs between medications and other goods. Travis (2001) estimates approximately 600,000 individuals will be released from federal and state prisons each year, the majority of those released are male, black or Hispanic, poorly educated, non-violent offenders with a history of substance abuse. Incarceration is also clearly a family affair with more than half of inmates reporting they have at least one child younger than 18, 93 percent of these incarcerated parents are fathers (From Prison to Home Conference, 2002). This project uses the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the effect of incarceration on the health of urban fathers while controlling for substance use, pre-existing poor health and impulsivity.
My New Connections Experience
I wanted the opportunity to think about health among a vulnerable, understudied population. This project represented a departure from some of my prior work and I thought, rightly so, that the New Connections grant would offer the cohort, infrastructure and support to move into a new area of inquiry.
Securing the New Connections grant demonstrates the viability of my research agenda early in my career, supports my development as an independent scholar and connects me with a diverse group of talented scholars.
My research focuses on the effects of public policy on the well being of families with particular emphasis on housing policy and incarceration. This work seeks to untangle the impact of various public benefits and contextual factors on the lives of vulnerable families.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2007
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Vulnerable Populations
- Project Name: The Effect of Incarceration on Fathers’ Health