During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which provided state governments’ access to millions of dollars of grants-in-aid and inspired the creation of the state's Department of Public Welfare. The department desperately needed trained social workers to fulfill this mission. The LSU School of Social Work was founded in 1937 to meet the need in Louisiana, and graduates quickly assumed leadership positions helping those struggling through the economic ravages of the Depression.
In 2005, following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, social work professionals, trained to provide assistance and support in times of emergency, were desperately needed. Once again, just as it had been nearly 70 years before, the LSU School of Social Work met the need. Current students, faculty, and graduates provided clothing and support to survivors, worked with children separated from their parents, and welcomed displaced students into the program.
Throughout the recovery efforts, LSU School of Social Work researchers led the way in determining the best methods to help people rebuild their lives. Among the many projects were studies into the mental and emotional effects of the storms on elementary school students, as well as research on how the School of Social Work's own students responded to the stress of disaster recovery efforts.