The pandemic, inflation, and the rising cost of living have all put added pressure on individuals and families — from health and childcare disparities to food and financial insecurity. Communities are facing critical challenges in homelessness and housing insecurity, substance abuse, and social inequity.
“The mission of the Norton School of Human Ecology is to use science, research, and education to ensure that every family thrives,” Scaramella said. “The relevance of this mission has never been more significant as it is today.”
People are struggling to find the services they need, and there is a critical shortage of licensed therapists and social services professionals nationwide, explained Scaramella.
To address the growing mental health crisis, the Norton School is developing a program in marriage and family therapy, as well as social services certificate programs to provide students more immediate pathways to careers in counseling, social work, and the nonprofit sector.
“Our students want to work in helping fields and impact change. They want to work with families and serve their communities,” Scaramella said. “Our programs continue to evolve to help get students out in the community and give them the practical skills they need to improve people’s lives.”
Food insecurity has long been an issue on college campuses across the nation. The fact of the matter is students often struggle with basic needs, meaning they have trouble finding stable housing or having enough food to eat. The factors that contribute to student food and housing insecurity are often complex but rooted in financial insecurity. To support students at the University of Arizona, the Norton School is working to establish a collaborative center to provide financial planning, counseling, and advice for the university community.
“Our transformation is ongoing. That’s what makes us unique,” Scaramella said. “It’s because of our partnerships with alumni and communities that we’re able to keep evolving to give families the tools they need to thrive.”