NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Pioneering Contributions: Dr. Rosemary Chapin’s pioneering work focuses on postponing, and in many cases, preventing institutionalization through the expansion of community-based services. She has been working for over 40 years to improve quality of life for older adults and their families Dr. Chapin is the founding Director of the Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options (CRADO) and a Professor in the University of Kansas (KU) School of Social Welfare. CRADO is one of the longest continuously funded gerontological research centers in a School of Social Welfare, in the United States. Since its inception in the 1990’s, faculty and staff have worked with state agencies to help reach out to low income older adults and develop effective home and community based services that allow them to avoid institutionalization. She pioneered a new case management system focused on the strengths of older adults rather than deficits. Chapin used her research to gain a seat at the policy table in public and private organization and is a staunch advocate for including more social workers in the policy making process. Graduates mentored by Dr. Chapin include doctoral social work leaders such as Mercedes Bern-Klug MSW, PhD, who is the 2015 NASW Knee Wittman Outstanding Achievement award winner and Laura Taylor, who is now directors over 12,000 social workers for the Veterans Administration. She has spearheaded research on effectiveness of home and community based long term care on the local, state, national, and international level. One of her many contributions was to begin researching physical and mental health care in relation to the elder population boom, increasing the understanding of the type of care required by this rapidly expanding demographic. Chapin’s work has also resulted in a greater focus on older adults who are dually eligible for federal assistance through Medicare and Medicaid. Her research has also been instrumental in increasing access to assisted living services for low income people with long term care needs, as well as an expansion of mental health services that are accessible to older adults. Chapin has invested in the future of geriatric health care by becoming involved in the mentoring of post-doctoral Geriatric fellows and the mentorship of doctoral and masters students at the University of Kansas. She has worked tirelessly with the Hartford Foundation over the years, not only helping with the installation of the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education but by mentoring five of her students who were Hartford Doctoral Fellows as well as mentoring Hartford Faculty Scholars. Chapin has helped advance aging research through her own study and her mentorship of the future generation of gerontological social workers.
Career Highlights: Chapin’s initial social work experience made clear the devastating effects of ill-conceived policies on her clients. This fueled her desire to enact policy change and informed her push to educate social workers on the effect that policy development has on their practice and their day to day lives. After receiving her doctorate, Chapin began work as a research/policy analyst in the Long Term Care Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. During this time she worked closely with think tanks and research organizations like Lewin, HSRI, and ABT Associates and began conceptualizing her revolutionary research on Medicaid reform. This is also when she began her work to change how social workers learn about national and international social work policy in BSW and MSW programs. To date, Chapin has completed funded research projects on the local, state, and federal level that totals over $12 million.
Biographic Data: Chapin received her BA from Kansas State University in Sociology in 1969, her MSW with a focus on Community Organization from the University of Minnesota in 1971, and her PhD with a focus on Social Work and Gerontology from the University of Minnesota in 1984. After completing her Ph.D, she worked as a policy analyst for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and helped institute state long term care reform. Chapin became a professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas in 1989. She was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1995, and to full professor in 2002.
Significant Achievements & Awards Received: Dr. Chapin’s research is notable for its scope, rigor, and consistency, and she has received many awards and widespread recognition for her work to reform Medicaid long term supports policy and programs. Accolades particularly highlighted her pioneering work to focus policymakers on older adults’ strengths and resources rather than solely on deficits. She was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging and was continually involved in Hartford and National Institute on Aging initiatives to improve gerontological social work education. In 2015, she received the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work’s Career Achievement Award. She was designated an AARP Visiting Scholar for International Affairs. Chapin also received the prestigious Steeples Award for her policy practice work to reform state long term care systems. She has been chosen to serve on the AARP National Policy Council, which is a 26-member policy analysis and advisory body that develops and makes policy recommendations to AARP's Board of Directors. In 2016, she was honored for her outstanding work to reform state policy by the national organization, Influencing Social Policy.
Significant Publications: Chapin is the author of Social Policy, for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach., now in its 4th edition. This text is widely used nationally in professional social work education. She has authored over 130 peer-reviewed articles, books, book chapters, research and legislative reports. She is a prolific author, renowned for her work on the strengths perspective, long term care, and social policy. Many of these publications have helped shape Medicaid long term care policy reform.