Kadushin remembered as a social work giant

Apr 17, 2014

By Rena Malai, News staff

NASW Social Work Pioneer® Alfred Kadushin was a giant in social work, said NASW-Wisconsin Executive Director Marc Herstand. Kadushin was soft-spoken and gentle, Herstand said, but his impact on the social work profession was — and continues to be — enormous.

Kadushin died on Feb. 5 at the age of 97. He was a Julia C. Lathrop Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work, where he worked from 1950 to 1990. The university called him one of the nation’s leading scholars in child welfare services and social work.

He wrote six books on the subject: “Child Welfare Services;” “The Social Work Interview;” “Supervision in Social Work;” “Social Work Consultation;” “Adopting Older Children”; and “Child Abuse.” Kadushin also wrote 66 journal articles.

“He has written major textbooks on social work supervision and child welfare, and his book “Child Welfare Services” became a huge influence for the Child Welfare Act of 1980,” Herstand said. “Most social workers have at least one of his textbooks, and social work students study his material today.”

Kadushin’s daughter, Goldie, co-authored new editions of “The Social Work Interview” with her father. She is a social work professor at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, department of social work, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

She said Kadushin was a philosophical man who took an interest in what was going on in the world around him. Growing up in New York City’s lower east side and later moving to the Bronx, he came from a background of intense intellectualism, and Kadushin’s Polish father was adamant about his son getting an education.

“He was a child of the Depression and grew up poor,” said Goldie, who is an NASW member. “He wanted to be in a profession where there was an opportunity to move up and have a secure career.”

Kadushin worked to put himself through school, and once held a job as a letter carrier in Harlem. It was a job Goldie said he loved, because it allowed him to interact with a lot of people.

“He really loved people and he was interested in them,” she said. “He got to know all the people on his route well and would talk to them every day about what was going on.”

Kadushin received his Ph.D. from NYU and moved to Madison, Wis., in 1950, where he began as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work. Mel Morgenbesser, a retired faculty member and former director at the university’s school of social work, knew Kadushin first as a student, and later as a colleague. He said Kadushin was always prepared and excited to share his knowledge with his students, and he was never seen without two full briefcases stuffed with articles and books to back his teachings.

From the April 2014 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.