New Faces: Associate Professor and Mack Distinguished Professor Emmeline Chuang

December 19, 2019

Emmeline ChuangWe are delighted to welcome the newest member of our faculty, Associate Professor and Mack Distinguished Professor Emmeline Chuang.

Dr. Chuang's research focuses on how health and human service organizations can improve service access and well-being of underserved populations, with a specific focus on: (1) how the nature and quality of inter-organizational relationships between health and human service organizations affects service access and client outcomes; (2) how managers and other organizational leaders can best support evidence uptake by frontline practitioners; and (3) how the design of work affects provider and staff satisfaction and quality of care. She has authored over 65 peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous policy briefs, technical reports, and tools for practitioners. Her research has been funded by agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the William T Grant Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Hitachi Foundation. She received her Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. 

Tell us about your educational and professional background.

After college, I spent a year as a Health Corps / AmeriCorps volunteer in San Francisco, where I worked as a medical assistant and health educator at a community health center. After that, I worked as a research assistant for a company specializing in the evaluation of health and social service programs. These experiences affirmed my interest in furthering my education, and I subsequently went back and got a PhD in Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. My dissertation focused on how health and human services organizations could improve service access and outcomes for families involved with child welfare. From there, I pursued a postdoc at the University of South Florida, where I worked on a number of state and county evaluation projects that used data from multiple sectors to take a more holistic view at how to improve service access and outcomes for vulnerable children and families. This interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral approach has informed my subsequent life as a faculty member at SDSU, UCLA, and now Berkeley.

Describe a few of your current projects.
I have a few active projects right now. I'm involved with the statewide evaluation of the Whole Person Care Pilot Program, which is part of California's Medicaid 1115 waiver demonstration program. Under WPC care, 25 Pilots representing the majority of counties and one city in California are working to improve integration of health, behavioral health, and social services for high-need, high-cost Medicaid beneficiaries. We want to see whether developing infrastructure and improving care coordination will improve outcomes for this population. I'm also involved in a study of the Medi-Cal Health Homes Program, which also focuses on care management and integration of health and social services for high-need, high-cost beneficiaries, to understand how Medicaid managed care plans are implementing the program and factors that influence successful implementation. And I'm also partnering with colleagues at Ohio State University who are studying how to improve collaboration between child welfare and behavioral health for families affected by the opioid crisis. Finally, I'm wrapping up a project with the William T Grant Foundation focused on identifying organizational supports that promote evidence use by private child and family serving agencies.

What drew you to this position at Berkeley Social Welfare?
I have always been interested in the intersection of health and human services, and particularly how to create better systems of care for families involved with the child welfare system. I first learned of the Mack Center through a project that Mike [Austin], Sarah [Carnochan], and a colleague at Portland State University invited me to participate in. In the U.S., publicly funded human services are commonly provided through contracts with private agencies. Our project focused on factors that influence the success of these contracting relationships. Through that project, I learned more about BAASC [the Bay Area Social Services Consortium] and the Mack Center and was very much drawn to the "practice research" model, which focuses on working closely with community partners to conduct research that will directly inform practice. Conducting research that can really answer questions that agencies in the community have is something that I hope to further in my new role.

Could you tell us more about your upcoming goals for the Mack Center?
I would like to build on the existing strengths of the Mack Center. I think it's really amazing that Mike [Austin] and Sarah [Carnochan] have developed this long-standing partnership with these Bay Area human service agencies and I would love to find ways to continue contributing to and building on this foundation. I need to spend time understanding what the local needs and priorities are. But then I would like to see whether we can identify opportunities to leverage larger grants in ways that would benefit both the Mack Center and county agencies. I believe think that interdisciplinary projects that include diverse colleagues from multidisciplinary backgrounds as well as community partners can be more impactful.

What are you most looking forward to at Berkeley Social Welfare?
I'm excited to begin teaching and working with students and colleagues. I am coming from a slightly different disciplinary background, having never been formally trained in social work, so I think there will be a learning curve. But the faculty and students that I've met so far have been lovely and I'm looking forward to this new adventure.