Affiliate Profile: Jon Phillips


Jon Phillips, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UConn’s School of Social Work. His primary research concerns inter-professional collaboration in people-serving systems. Phillips is particularly interested in the child welfare system, looking at how collaboration between caseworkers, therapists, attorneys, physicians and other professionals impacts children, families, and the professionals themselves. “I’m interested in how the quality of treatment between professionals impacts the people they serve,” says Phillips. His work aims to highlight practices that can support collaboration among professionals across disciplines to improve child, family, and professional well-being.

Phillips has a rich background in social work practice, which was where he first saw how collaboration can impact child and family well-being. “I saw how the collaboration between professionals impacted families. Sometimes the professionals worked very well together, which benefited families, but sometimes they had a very cancerous, antagonistic relationship which hurt the children and families they serve.” His practice experience led to his interest in researching inter-professional collaboration. Upon reviewing the literature, Phillips recognized that there was a lack of research on how the relationships between professionals in the child welfare system affected children and families, such as whether a child experiences repeated maltreatment or whether a child is placed in foster care . “My interest was sparked by my experiences in the field and was re-sparked when I became acquainted with the literature, or lack thereof.” After completing his doctorate, Phillips began work at UConn and joined CSCH as an affiliate.

Involvement with CSCH
Phillips’ recent research has focused on the relationship between system dynamics and outcomes in child welfare. Phillips believes that his work aligns with the mission of the CSCH since the multidisciplinary approach that the Collaboratory employs exemplifies the practices that Phillips studies. “The fact that [CSCH] facilitates the creation of interdisciplinary research teams is crucial,” says Phillips. “If you want to study inter-professional collaboration, it is best to have researchers that represent various professions and understand the theory and the research that guides these professions.”

A project that Phillips is currently working on concerns the impact that inter-professional collaboration has on professional well-being. His work aims to understand how inter-professional collaboration relates to caseworker job satisfaction, job stress, burn out and intent to stay in their agency. “We’ve looked a lot at how professionals can burn out on their job with clients, the people they serve…I think that the people they work with can be a source of support, but also a source of stress,” says Phillips.

Fun Facts

Dr. Phillips has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.