Social workers recognize that individuals live in families who are in turn influenced by organizations, services, communities and policies within a larger cultural and historical context. Grounded in a code of ethics that values the inherent worth and dignity of all people, social work is the field that has what it takes to create lasting change for families.
The Jordan Institute for Families aims to support safe, stable, and nurturing families in North Carolina and beyond. We envision a state where everyone in the family is healthy and has a strong base from which to grow and flourish. The Jordan Institute catalyzes change and extends the mission of the UNC School of Social Work beyond the academy walls into communities. We weave a focus on social justice and racial equity across everything we do.
We acknowledge the long history of racism that has been a root cause of economic and health inequities in the US since its inception. The historical trauma, inter-generational poverty, and limited opportunity for African American and Native American families caused by structural racism requires urgent and focused attention. Further, the treatment of people at our geographic border based on documentation status has led to a new wave of inter-generational trauma and family separation. Whether our activism is through policy, professional training, learning about ways that racism plays itself out in our own organization / lives, forging disruptive partnerships, and bringing community and family voices to decision-making spaces or other strategies, equity and justice are the foundation of our work.
The Jordan Institute takes a life span approach to its work, recognizing that there are sensitive periods of development across the life course – from preconception to early childhood, high school graduation, parenting, and retirement. Each age and stage of human development presents new challenges and opportunities for the emotional, physical, and economic well-being of each family member. Bolstering protective factors and reducing risks through policy and practice can create healthy trajectories for families. These factors include the social determinants of equity – access to education, employment, housing, safety, nutrition and transportation.
We recognize that individuals live within social networks which in turn are influenced by social institutions, the larger community, and public policy. While many interventions are directed at the individual, it is difficult for a person to change when pushing against a host of factors larger than themselves. Social networks can provide buffers and support or can cause harm and limit potential. Fostering healthy relationships and reducing isolation is key. Much like interpersonal relationships, the complex systems in which organizations exist greatly influence their ability to achieve their aims. As such systems mapping, understanding how racism functions within policy and program structures, and understanding the history of place matters. Public policy at the local, state, and or federal level plays a critical role in creating conditions where people can thrive. Our work extends across all these levels and necessarily includes the people who live and lead in these arenas.