Margaret M. C. Thomas

Margaret M. C. Thomas

Assistant Professor of Social Welfare


PhD, Boston University School of Social Work
MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BA, University of Notre Dame

Areas of Interest:

Child welfare; Child wellbeing; Children and families; Economic wellbeing; Material hardship; Policy; Poverty; Sexual and gender minority populations; Social policy; Social welfare; Youth


Office Location:

5242, Public Affairs

Margaret (Maggie) Thomas is Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her scholarship and teaching emphasize structural sources of oppression and privilege, grounded in her practice experiences working with children, youth, and families facing social and economic marginalization.

Dr. Thomas’s research focuses on material hardship, poverty, and economic wellbeing, particularly the consequences of hardship and deprivation for child, youth, and family wellbeing in the US. Her current research projects include work exploring the meaning, measurement, and consequences of material hardship in the US; work focused on inequities between racialized groups in child protective services (CPS) involvement, particularly related to income poverty and material hardship; and work examining social policies as potential causes of and responses to inequities in health and wellbeing, emphasizing policies related to income poverty, material hardship, and social welfare. She also conducts research focused on the wellbeing of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth, bringing social policy and quantitative methods expertise to a research team engaged in that work. Throughout her research, Dr. Thomas prioritizes engaging and training student research collaborators, responding to community members’ needs for and interest in research engagement, and sharing research findings in accessible ways.

Dr. Thomas teaches courses in Social and Economic Justice and Child and Family Well-Being, including Foundations of Social Welfare Policy (SW 214A) and Poverty, the Poor, and Social Welfare (SW 290L). Her teaching emphasizes social and policy systems, attends to structural forces that create marginalization and opportunity, and supports students’ development of meaningful, relevant knowledge and skills.

Dr. Thomas’s work has been supported by the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy and the Society for Social Work and Research. She was previously a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Columbia School of Social Work, where she worked on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.


Selected Publications:

Miller, D.P. & Thomas, M.M.C. (2020). Policies to reduce food insecurity: An ethical imperative. Physiology & Behavior, 222. 

Ha, Y., Thomas, M.M.C., Byrne, T.H., & Miller, D.P. (2020). Patterns of multiple instability among low-income families with children. Social Service Review, 94(1), 129-168.

Miller, D.P., Thomas, M.M.C., Nepomnyaschy, L., Waller, M., & Emory, A.D. (2020). Father involvement and socioeconomic disparities in child academic outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(2), 515-533.

Thomas, M.M.C., Mehta, A., Murphy, J., Childs, E., Sena, B.F., Dimitri, N., Dooley, D., Kane, J., Shen, A., Barros, E., Reid, M., & Bachman, S. (2020). Associations between public housing residency and health behaviors in a cross-sectional sample of Boston adults. Housing Policy Debate, 30(3), 335-347.

Thomas, M.M.C., Miller, D.P., & Morrissey, T.W. (2019). Food insecurity and child health. Pediatrics, 144(4), 1-9.

Paceley, M.S., Fish, J., Thomas, M.M.C., & Goffnett, J. (2019). The impact of community size, community climate, and victimization on the physical and mental health of sexual and gender minority youth. Youth & Society, 52(3), 427–448.

Ha, Y., Thomas, M.M.C., Narendorf, S.C., & Santa Maria, D. (2018). Correlates of shelter use among young adults experiencing homelessness. Children and Youth Services Review, 94, 477-484.