Laura Escobar-Ratliff

Laura Escobar-Ratliff, DSW

    Personal profile

    Research Interests

    DSW program development and evaluation, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), Latinx issues, behavioral health services with a focus on equity and expansive practice, and leadership in helping professions


    Dr. Laura Escobar-Ratliff, DSW is a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Program Director at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and a Master of Social work from Spalding University in Louisville, KY.  Dr. Escobar-Ratliff completed her Doctor of Social work at St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas School of Social Work in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Dr. Escobar-Ratliff has over two decades of direct care, clinical, and administrative experience, as well as over 10 years of experience in social work education.  Her community practice has included working in community mental health (community-based, outpatient, and crisis services), outpatient substance use treatment, and residential treatment.  In community practice she worked as a social work clinician, program director, unit manager, and division director. 

    Dr. Escobar-Ratliff’s teaching experience includes teaching adjunctively and/or full-time at smaller private teaching universities and larger public universities.  She has taught and developed curriculum for BSW, MSW, and DSW programs.  In 2020, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (UK CoSW) launched the first fully online asynchronous DSW program in the state of Kentucky.  Dr. Escobar-Ratliff was part of the curriculum and program development team to actualize the DSW Program.  Her current teaching responsibilities are with UK CoSW DSW program focused in the administrative leadership and social work education concentrations. 

    In addition to her teaching, Dr. Escobar-Ratliff remains engaged in the community.  Her community engagement and leadership include serving on La Casita Center’s Board of Directors, Family Health Centers’ Board of Governors, and KYA KIDS COUNT Community Advisory Committee.  Dr. Escobar-Ratliff skills and expertise in budgeting and financial management are evident in her work as a division director as well as her volunteer work in community practice.  She is currently in her seventh year of services as La Casita Center’s board treasurer and second year of service on the finance committee for Family Health Centers.

    Dr. Escobar-Ratliff’s experiences in community practice, social work education, and her intersectional identity drive her scholarship interests.  Her research interests include DSW program development and evaluation, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), Latinx issues, behavioral health services with a focus on equity and expansive practice, and leadership in helping professions.  Some of examples of her scholarship include:  A Call to Action: Justice-Informed Social Work Practice, which is a chapter in the text Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice: Building Social Work Practice Skills; Is the DSW Degree and Good Fit for You, an article with The New Social Worker; a book review LatinX in Social Work for The New Social Worker.  Dr. Escobar-Ratliff has also presented and interviewed with various venues related to her areas of expertise.  Examples of presentations and interviews include Hispanic Heritage Month invited panel for the Veterans Administration, Public Safety from the Latinx Perspective invited panel for the Community Activation Network, International COVID-19 Vaccination Effort an interview with MetroTV, and Latinx community among those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 an interview with Wave3 News.

    Courses Taught

    SW 853: Contemporary Concepts in Social Work**+

    SW 856: Science of Social Work**+

    SW863: Advanced Administrative and Supervisory Practice**+

    SW864: Advance Policy for Social Work Practice**+

    SW877: Engaged Scholarship in Social Work Education**+

    DSW New Student Orientation**+

    SW 430: Social Welfare Policy:  Theory and Implementation*

    SW430: Social Welfare Policy: Theory and Implementation**+

    SWRK 612: Social Work in Diverse Rural Areas**

    SWRK 660: Advanced Field Practicum I**

    SWRK 661: Advanced Field Practicum II**

    SWRK 331: Human Behavior and Social Environment II

    SWRK 310: Social Work Practice III

    SW 310: Privilege and Oppression*

    SW341: Intervention III

    SW 571: Current Issues in Social Work

    SW 602: Social Justice and Social Work Practice*

    SW 609: Social Work Practice I*

    SW 610: Social Work Practice II*

    SW 611: Social Work Practice III*

    SW 615: Social Welfare Services and Policy

    SW 620/622: Field Practicum I and II*

    SW 621/623: Field Seminar I and II*

    SW 630: Integrative Practice I

    SW 631: Integrative Practice II

    SW 632: Social Policy Analysis*

    *Denotes course was taught in a hybrid format (i.e., face-to-face, synchronous & asynchronous)

    **Denotes course was taught online, asynchronously

    ***Denotes course was taught online, synchronously

    +Denotes course development

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

    Education/Academic qualification

    Doctor of Social Work, University Of St. Thomas



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