Susan Livingston Smith
Program & Project Director
Jeanne A. Howard
Policy & Research Director
Jeanne Howard and Susan Livingston Smith have been the leading researchers in the field of post-adoption services for over a decade. Starting with a gound-breaking study on adoption disruption in 1988, Howard and Smith began a scholarly partnership which has continued, resulting in many joint publications, over 50 presentations at professional conferences, and other activities on a national scale. Together they have directed the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University for the past eight years, which has produced several major pieces of research as well as curricula for adoption workers.
Howard and Smith met after each joined the School of Social Work faculty at Illinois State University between 1980 and 1981. Smith arrived with knowledge gained as a social worker in adoption agencies in Tennessee and Illinois and several years of teaching experience at South Carolina State College. She came to ISU to direct the field instruction program, and held this position for many years. Howard brought expertise from having taught child welfare courses and conducted research. She had taught previously at the University of Illinois and Southeast Missouri State University.
Dr. Howard, a Full Professor at ISU, completed her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Chicago and was involved in several research studies conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at U of C. Smith, a Professor Emerita of ISU, completed her MSSW at the University of Tennessee and continued to develop her clinical expertise, receiving the ACSW and becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Their joint work has drawn from Howard's love of social welfare policy and Smith's clinical background to produce research which informs both adoption policy and practice. Both Howard and Smith serve on the post adoption task force of the North American Council for Adoptable Children and together they received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for their work in applied scholarship and research. Also in 2006 both received the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.
Smith and Howard began a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the development of post-adoption services in Illinois. They conducted a four-year evaluation of the Illinois Adoption & Guardianship Preservation program, begun in 1991, and have continued their study of therapeutic services to adoptive families who are struggling. Their book, Promoting Successful Adoption: Practice with Troubled Families, integrates research, theory, and practice knowledge for working with families after adoption. In addition, they conducted a national study of post-legal grant projects funded by the U.S. Children's Bureau and in partnership with the American Public Human Services Association, conducted a qualitative study of post-adoption services funded by states across the nation.
The scholarly research of this team has been published in leading professional journals such as Social Service Review, Social Work, the Journal of Social Service Research, Children and Youth Services Review, and Adoption Quarterly. They completed a study of more than 1,300 child welfare adoptive families, which is reported in their book, After Adoption: The Needs of Adopted Youth, published by the Child Welfare League of America.
Howard and Smith share a strong belief in the obligation of every state and community to support families who adopt special needs children and they have been committed to developing the capacity of states and professionals to meet this obligation through their training of thousands of child welfare, mental health, and judicial professionals around the country and their development of curricula on adoption practice.