Linda Houser profile image

Linda Houser, PhD

  • Associate Professor
Media Expertise:
  • Social Justice

Programs I Teach


  • PhD, Social Work (2010)
    Bryn Mawr College (PA)
  • MSW, Administration, Policy, and Planning (2000)
    Temple University (PA)

About Me

Despite the remarkable progress we have made in a number of arenas, the individual concerns and social problems we face are remarkably persistent. I believe, however, in the potential for positive change and in the role of social workers in assisting, facilitating, and initiating such change. I began my career in direct practice with the families of young children with chronic or disabling conditions, connecting them with developmental assessments and services. Over three years of this work, I realized that as much as families needed and wanted individual and family supports and services, they were often blocked from getting such things by budget constraints, administrative deterrence, or simply lives that were already overly full. Whenever my agency brought parents together, we discovered deep veins of frustration that the professionals in their lives to date had been ill-prepared to inform them about concrete services and policies or even to equip parents to advocate for service and policy changes as a community, a constituency.

Social workers tend to be busy people, asked to be and to do a great many things at a great many levels of service and expertise. As someone passionate about the value of policy and research knowledge in social work, I see my job as learning about the interests and practice needs of student-practitioners, facilitating interactive knowledge building around these needs and equipping student-practitioners to continue to build policy knowledge—not only to apply and share such knowledge with those they serve—but also to critique policy with an eye toward constructive change.

My areas of research and policy interests include federal and state employment policies and supports (particularly earned sick days and family leave legislation), the role of states as "policy laboratories," and employment and caregiving.

Research Interests

My research and policy practice focus on efforts to improve financial, workplace, and caregiving security for women and families across the age and socioeconomic spectrum. This work continues to follow three distinct but related strands: (1) labor force policy implementation (including paid family leave and paid maternity leave, paid/earned sick days, child care subsidies); (2) economic insecurity and caregiving; and (3) gender and work (for example, work patterns and supports for women with breast cancer).

Media Expertise

  • Paid family leave
  • Earned sick days (paid sick days)
  • Women in the workplace
  • Unionization and training of home health care and home-based child care workers
  • Child care subsidies
  • Employment for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders 


  • Campbell, M., & Houser, L. (2020). Connecting caregiver wages and distress: Felt precarity, parenting, and child behavior. Families in Society, 1-16. doi: 10.1177/1044389420913393 
  • Vartanian, T. P., & Houser, L. (2020). Childhood SNAP receipt as a protective factor against adult obesity: Examining the interaction of SNAP participation and neighborhood disadvantage. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 47(3).

  • Vartanian, T. P., & Houser, L. (2020). The interactive role of SNAP participation and residential neighborhood in childhood obesity. Journal of Children and Poverty, 26(2). doi: 10.1080/10796126.2020.1826246 

  • Haney, J., Houser, L., & Cullen, J. (2018). Parental perceptions and child emotional and behavioral problems in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48, 12-27. doi 10.1007/s10803-017-3288-9 

  • Houser, L., Schram, S. F., Soss, J., & Fording, R. C. (2015). Babies as barriers: Welfare policy discourse in an era of neoliberalism. Handbook of Poverty.   

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR)


  • Faculty Institutional Leadership Award Nominee, Widener University (2020) 
  • Faculty Research Award Nominee, Widener University (2015)
  • Award for Best Article, Social Welfare Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2011)
  • Award for Best Paper on Public Policy, American Political Science Association (2008)

In the Media