About Victor Groza
I am a Professor of Social Work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a teacher, researcher and social work practitioner. I teach courses in social work practice (child welfare practice, family interventions, adoption practice and policy) and research (mostly research practicum at this point). I developed and teach a course on International Travel and Study in Child Welfare. It offers select students an opportunity to practice social work or conduct social work research internationally. Together with students and other professionals, I have explored issues in Romania such as institutionalized children, street children, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, domestic adoption, and foster care. In 2000, a team from MSASS worked with the National Organization for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Belize City, Belize, Central America. In that project, we met with agencies and key informants around issues of child sexual abuse and worked on the protocol for program evaluation and research. In addition to these projects with students, I also traveled to India as part of my sabbatical during Fall 2001 to study Indian families who had adopted. Reports from projects in Romania and the one in India are located on this web site.
In addition to my teaching, my research and writing is predominantly in child welfare. My researching child welfare focuses on two areas:(1) an examination of the institutional care of children, ways to improve the care of children who must reside in institutions, and the negative impact on child development from early trauma due to institutionalization; and (2) family, children and service system issues in domestic, older-child adoption and international adoption.
My interest in the institutional care of children began in the mid seventies when I was working in a psychiatric residential facility for adolescents. I was keenly aware of the difficulties that existed for both the children and the staff working with them, focusing on the types of problems and abuses that can occur when children are cared for out-of-home during extended periods of time. I was also curious about the role these families played in their children’s behavior that resulted in the children’s removal from their home settings, and how these families were virtually ignored in residential programs. This occupational interest led me into a masters program in social work, and consequently to a research interest in ways to understand, monitor, and improve the treatment of children residing in institutional settings. In the early 1990s, I extended this research on institutional maltreatment into Romania. My ethnic ties are Romanian and when the plight of children in the “Institutions for the Irrecoverable” first became known, I began to volunteer in Romania. Since 1991, I have led teams of social workers and social work students into Romania to provide consultation, training, technical assistance, and conduct research.
My interest in adoption began by growing up in a home with an adoptive brother. My adoptive brother was the fourth child to join my sibling group of 5 children. He would have been classified as a special needs child had the term been coined in the sixties. My interest in adoption was renewed while I was pursuing my doctoral work. In order to supplement my income I was hired by an adoption agency to conduct home studies of prospective adoptive parents for children with special needs and to provide supervision to the family after a child was placed for adoption. My first two cases ended in disruption (i.e., the removal of the child from the adoptive home before legalization of the adoption). This difficulty was contrary to my experience with my adoptive brother. This practice experience stimulated my interesting adoption-related research. Initially, my research started on the difficulty of adoption disruption. Subsequently, when it became apparent that most older-child adoptions remain intact (over 80%) and do not disrupt or dissolve, I turned my focus to understanding the intact adoptive family.
Family systems theory, attachment theory, human ecology theory, and child development theories have guided my research. My vita is one of the files you can access; it will direct you to my publications in professional journals and my books.