Professional News

UK's Justin Miller Receives Children's Bureau Champion Award for Supporting the Workforce

Photo of Justin "Jay" Miller
Justin "Jay" Miller is associate dean for research and associate professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2019)  Justin "Jay" Miller, associate dean for research and associate professor in the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky, has been selected to receive the Children's Bureau Champion Award for Supporting the Workforce.

The awards pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to the field of child abuse and neglect. More specifically, the award for supporting the workforce recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to promoting social, educational, economic, behavioral, cognitive and relational well-being of children and families. This includes, addressing trauma, strengthening protective factors and building resilience.

"I have spent my career committed to improving the lives of children, families and the professionals who serve them. To have that work recognized in this way is truly amazing," Miller said. "Without question, the Children’s Bureau is a leader in shaping child welfare services. To receive this honor, from this entity, is a testament to the work we have been able to accomplish here at UK."

Miller is at the helm of many endeavors in the CoSW and brings passion to his work as an educator and scholar. 

In June 2018, the college launched the Self-Care Lab (SCL). The goal? To generate empirical knowledge associated with broad-ranging self-care research and education among social workers, educators, nurses, law enforcement and other helping professionals. In doing so, the lab seeks to address potentially toxic employment conditions.

"In order to ensure that the public receives the best service possible, we must ensure that the professionals providing the services are well-equipped to deal with consequences associated with their work. The research we are conducting will help us to better understand inimical employment conditions and strategies to assuage these conditions," Miller explained.

The SCL is the first known entity to be explicitly dedicated to examining self-care among helping professionals. It entails a unique, collaborative partnership comprising researchers across the nation. Additionally, the lab has already established formal partnerships with academic institutions in more than 13 countries — including Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, among others. 

Miller, who serves as the lab’s director and principal investigator, oversees a number of national and international studies related to self-care. He believes there is immense opportunity for high pay-off. The lab affords students, faculty and staff from across campus the opportunity to engage in scholarship and research directly related to self-care among helping professionals.

"I'm passionate about self-care, because I know the consequences of not being passionate about it. Burnout is real. Workplace stress is real. Vicarious trauma is real. These problematic circumstances not only impact the professional experiencing them, but it also impacts service recipients the professionals are tasked with serving. The research we conduct can play a part in addressing these issues, and as such, improving services proffered in a number of different contexts."

Miller is also currently serving as the chairperson of Kentucky’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Board of Social Work and Children’s Justice Act Taskforce. He will be presented with the Children's Bureau Champion Award for Supporting the Workforce later this month.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for,”  and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.