Professor of Social Work, Director of The Graduate Certificate Program In Early Childhood Mental Health
Office: Boston Campus, Activities West 305F
M.S.W., Washington University
Ph.D. (Human Development and Family Studies), University of Connecticut,
Lenette Azzi-Lessing joined the Wheelock faculty in 2006, with more than 25 years experience as a clinical social worker, administrator, and policy advocate. Her work focuses on improving the well being and life chances of vulnerable, young children and their families, particularly those living in poverty and those involved in the child welfare system. She is the founding director of Wheelock's Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health and is faculty leader of the college's Partnership for Early Childhood Development in South Africa.
In 1989, Azzi-Lessing founded the Rhode Island Center for Children At-Risk to focus on meeting the needs of highly vulnerable young children and their families. As director of the Center, she started Project Connect, one of the nation's first programs designed to serve substance abuse-affected families in the child protective system. The Rhode Island Center for Children At-Risk eventually merged with Children's Friend & Service. Under Azzi-Lessing's leadership, the integrated organization, Children's Friend, developed nationally recognized programs serving young children and families in Rhode Island's poorest communities, including the state's first Family Support Center.
Azzi-Lessing is a member of the Child Welfare League of America's National Commission on Public Policy. She co-chaired the League's Committee on Prevention, Protection, and Family Preservation for several years. She also served as chair of the board of directors of The Economic Progress Institute, which advocates on behalf of low and middle-income families. She has served as an expert witness in federal court on behalf of children abused and neglected in the child welfare system, and provides consultation to child-serving professionals and organizations throughout the United States and in South Africa.
Dr. Azzi-Lessing teaches a number of courses in the Master of Social Work program, including Social Policy Practice, Social Work Leadership and Administration, and Early Childhood Mental Health: Practice, Policy and Research. She developed and co-teaches the college's South Africa Service-Learning Course.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2017). Behind from the start: How America's war on the poor is harming our most vulnerable children. New York: Oxford University
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (April 12, 2016). Hold leaders accountable for DCYF Disasters. The Providence Journal.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (January 22, 2016). The hidden harms of the US foster-care system. The Conversation
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2013). Serving Highly Vulnerable Families in Home-Visitation Programs. Infant Mental Health Journal, 34(5), (in press).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2011). Home visitation programs: Critical Issues and future directions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 387-398.
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2010). Growing together: Expanding roles for social work practice in early childhood settings. Social Work, 55(2).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2010) Meeting the mental health needs of poor and vulnerable children in early care and education settings. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 12(1).
- Azzi-Lessing, L. (2009) Quality support infrastructure in early childhood: Still (mostly) missing. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 11(1).