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 the wellbeing of economically marginalized individuals and families through the lens of policy causes and solutions to material hardship and poverty. She conducts two primary streams of research. First, she examines material hardship and its consequences for other domains of wellbeing, such as child protective services involvement (CPS) and health and mental health outcomes. Second, she analyzes policy impacts on poverty and hardship, such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) consequences for material hardship experiences. Dr. Thomas’s current research projects include a multi-year, randomized controlled trial testing the effects of guaranteed income receipt on material hardship and other domains of wellbeing; a study of the structure and systemic causes of the relationships between food insecurity and mental health; and work examining the relative roles of material hardship and income poverty in shaping child and family wellbeing, including in relationship to CPS involvement. 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), Social Welfare Research Methods (SW 213A), 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, the Society for Social Work and Research, and the UCLA Council on Research. She was previously a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia School of Social Work, where she worked on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.