School of Social Work faculty welcomes expert in substance abuse, child welfare policy and research


Viktor Burlaka, a clinical social worker and psychologist with human services and capacity-building expertise at the national and international levels, has joined the Wayne State School of Social Work as an assistant professor.

A specialist in best practice and policy development in human services since the mid-1990s, Burlaka received his M.S.W. in 2003 from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine and his Joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Clinical Psychology in 2015 from the University of Michigan. He comes to Wayne State from the University of Mississippi, where as an assistant professor from 2015 to 2018 he was immersed in teaching and research on clinical practice, program evaluation, capacity-building research, evidence-based and implementation science in the area of child welfare, family services, mental health, violence, and substance abuse.

A licensed clinical and macro social worker in Michigan, Burlaka’s ongoing professional focus involves capacity building for substance abuse research and connecting applied research to the implementation of best practices to improve the lives of children and families in the United States and globally. He has provided clinical interventions to the vulnerable children and families as well as implemented community-based programs targeting child maltreatment, substance abuse prevention, and intimate partner violence. He has also served as organizational development consultant and team leader on multiple capacity-building projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Burlaka was engaged in the evaluation of the mental health practices in Michigan and Mississippi. He was among core researchers leading the collaboration between the University of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services serving as the Director of Evaluation and co-Principal Investigator for the Child Welfare Training Academy that provided training for all newly employed child welfare workers in the state. Using in-depth mixed methods research with hundreds of newly employed workers, he explored organizational climate, knowledge translation and sustainability as well as organizational barriers that impede best practices in Mississippi.

Burlaka is regularly invited to provide continuing education and training to clinical social workers and child welfare workers. He has published in leading social work and psychology peer reviewed journals, edited a number of books, and presented at numerous national and international professional social work and psychology meetings.

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