UW–Madison Professor and Dean Maria Cancian nominated by President Obama to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services post

February 14, 2014

Contacts: Timothy Smeeding, (608) 890-3539, smeeding@lafollette.wisc.edu
                Jennifer Noyes, (608) 262-7990, jnoyes@ssc.wisc.edu

President Obama nominated Maria Cancian, University of Wisconsin–Madison dean and professor, to serve as Assistant Secretary to lead the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The appointment is pending Senate approval.

Cancian is Associate Dean for Social Sciences and the Associate Dean for Fiscal Initiatives in the College of Letters and Science, and Professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the School of Social Work. She served as director of the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) from 2004 to 2008. She was a W. T. Grant Distinguished Fellow in residence at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) in 2010.

Timothy Smeeding, IRP Director and Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs, commented on Cancian's nomination. "Poverty is a complex social problem that requires a multifaceted approach if we are to make progress in reducing it. For that reason, IRP is about research, training, policy, and practice. Very few scholars can take on all four approaches—Maria is one of the exceptions. Now she gets a chance to do it all for the nation as head of the Administration for Children and Families. On behalf of IRP, I am happy and proud to congratulate her on this honor."

Together with Daniel R. Meyer, Cancian has served as the principal investigator of many research grants, including two major, multi-million dollar research projects, a Child Support Research Agreement with the Wisconsin DCF; and an evaluation of the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration begun in 2012 by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement. Meyer is Mary C. Jacoby Distinguished Professor of Social Work at UW–Madison.

Cancian's research considers the relationship between public policies and changes in marriage, fertility, and employment, with a focus on the implications of child support policy for the well-being of divorced and never-married families; the employment and income of women who have received welfare; and the impact of married women's growing employment and earnings on marriage patterns and the distribution of income.

The Administration for Children and Families administers more than 60 programs with a budget of more than $49 billion. ACF programs include assistance with child abuse and neglect prevention and intervention; child support; healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood; and job opportunities for low-income individuals.