Adjunct Assistant Professor

Laurie Maldonado

Laurie C. Maldonado is a social worker, educator, advocate, and an international scholar on single-parent families and policy. She is Assistant Professor at Molloy University and Adjunct Lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work (CSSW). She holds a MSW and PhD in social welfare at UCLA. 

She is delighted to teach research and the policy seminar series at CSSW! She has taught several courses at CSSW since 2016, and is interested in sharing her expertise in comparative social policy. 

Maldonado studies gender inequality, poverty and how social policy interacts with families. Her research aims to inform policies, programs, and practices to improve the lives of single parents and their families in the US and across countries. Most of her work to date, is cross-national and comparative and uses quantitative data.  She received a four-year PhD grant awarded by Luxembourg National Research Fund, which fully supported her dissertation titled Doing Better for Single-Parent Families: Policy and Poverty in 45 Countries. A study that found the effectiveness of child support, child benefit, paid leave, and working time policies that reduce poverty for families. Previously, she was a pre-doctoral scholar and researcher at The Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the Graduate Center CUNY and The LIS Cross-National Data Center.  

Maldonado’s work is featured in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Community, Work, and Family (CWF) Journal, Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology, Belgian Social Security Review, Handbook of Research on In-Work Poverty, and Handbook of Family Policy. Her CWF paper, with Rense Nieuwenhuis from Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) of Stockholm University, was nominated in 2016 for the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research and the findings have been featured in reports by UN Women, the European Union and as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate poverty. 

Maldonado co-edited a book with Bristol University Press, titled The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families. Single parents face a triple bind of inadequate resources, employment, and policy – which combined, make it really difficult for single parents to provide for themselves and their children. The book shows evidence from over 40 countries, suggesting that these challenges are less about individual factors and more about structural factors that warrant policy solutions. Leading international scholars provide rigorous research to examine effective policy to support single-parent families. 

Maldonado co-authored with Tim Casey from Legal Momentum, a paper titled Worst Off: Single-Parent Families in the United States. The study made an important contribution towards understanding the difficult plight of single parents in the U.S. as mostly due to the lack of social policies and protections that are otherwise offered in other high-income countries. 

Her latest editorial project 2022 received public attention, with Janet Gornick at the Graduate Center CUNY and Amanda Sheely at London School of Economics. The team organized 30 international scholars for a conference and a volume on Single-Parent Families and Public Policy in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The volume, available to the public for free, aims to have an impact on the US; to extend our understanding of single-parent families and of the most effective policy approaches from high-income countries. The editorial team with Isabelle Sawhill from Brookings Institute launched a large-scale event with public policy scholars and policy makers that tackled: What does the social science research tell us about what’s most effective in helping single-parent families? What are the prospects for policy reform in the United States? The Brookings Institute Event successfully translated the research to the public and policy stakeholders. 

Maldonado’s future research will continue to focus on families. Her next project will examine how public policy can be more effective in supporting parents to equally share parenthood after separation. The project will examine data and trends on shared parenting across countries, explore country-case studies on the United States, Belgium, and Sweden which have three distinct policy approaches to families. The study will include qualitative interviews in the three countries that will further explore the lived experiences of separated parents and new partners and how they share parenting and how policy shapes their daily lives. This will be an opportunity to build a team of researchers and student collaborators, with the goal of founding an International Family Policy Lab. This will include an academic program and courses on sociology of family, comparative social policy, quantitative and qualitative research methods. This will allow for students to participate in the research, contribute to publications, and produce research and policy briefs, and opportunities for students to travel internationally to conferences and collaborate with other European Universities.  

Laurie Maldonado has over 10 years of experience teaching masters, and baccalaureate, social work students in New York. She teaches courses in Social Welfare Policy, Women and Social Policy, Research Methods and Capstone, Advocacy and Diversity (Power, Anti-Black Racism, Oppression, and Privilege). She has designed a Comparative Welfare State course for students to learn more about the role of social welfare and social policy across countries. It included a week-long international trip to Belgium where US students collaborated with University of Antwerp students on a project that explored the differences between the social policy and social work practice in Europe and the US. 

Dr. Maldonado loves the social work profession. Prior to academia, she served as a social worker in community-based organizations that served women and children in Los Angeles and New York.