August 2018 Newsletter


Deb Daro Presentation: Universal Outreach


Dr. Deb Daro, Senior Policy Fellow and Doris Duke Fellowships Chair, presented at Chapin Hall on emerging opportunities to establish a more robust partnership between traditional child welfare services and primary and secondary child maltreatment prevention services. Recent passage of the Family First Prevention and Services Act legislation (FFPSA) coupled with significant expansion of early home visiting, particularly models that extend offers of assistance to all new parents, have created an opportunity for more coordinated policies. As Deb noted in her opening remarks, “We fail to provide an adequate assessment of need at the beginning of the parenting process and often intervene only after a parent fails to meet expectations or a child is harmed. It’s time to change this failed dynamic on multiple levels.”

Rather than operating in isolation, Deb suggested that child welfare and targeted prevention programs might do better with individual subgroups of parents by first establishing a shared foundation or infrastructure that would periodically assess the needs of all parents, regardless of circumstances. By recognizing the universal needs children have and the universal challenges caretakers and communities face in addressing these needs, the approach creates a shared narrative across the two systems, demonstrating society’s collective interest in treatment and prevention in ways that are mutually reinforcing. 

In introducing this topic, Deb provided an introduction to Family Connects, a program developed by colleagues at Duke University which provides universal home visits to all newborns in Durham County, regardless of family income level or perceived risk. In randomized trials, program participants saw 50% fewer emergency medical care contacts and 36% fewer reports to CPS. This strong performance, coupled with the development of several other universal prevention programs, will be summarized in an upcoming issue of the Future of Children (available in April/May 2019) co-edited by Deb, Ken Dodge and Ron Haskins

Beginning with a summary of a Progressive Era policy that did offer universal support to all pregnant women and new parents, Deb reviewed more recent historical developments in the evolution of the nation’s child welfare system as well as in child abuse prevention investments. Senior Policy Fellow Dr. Krista Thomas also presented at the session outlining the key legislative elements of the Family First legislation and the opportunities that now exist in better integrating a prevention framework into child welfare practice, in ways that will reduce foster care placements and facilitate reunification efforts. Stay tuned for future updates. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar presentation. 


Fellows and Mentors Continue to Collaborate

On the bottom row, Mary Dozier (second from the left), Carole Shauffer (third from the left), and Lindsay Zajac (far right).

On the bottom row, Mary Dozier (second from the left), Carole Shauffer (third from the left), and Lindsay Zajac (far right).

  1. Kerri Raissian, Cohort One fellow, and her Academic Mentor, Lenard Lopoo, recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the decline in the U.S. birth rate and the implications it has on society. Click here to read more.

  2. Lindsay Zajac, Cohort Seven fellow, and her Academic Mentor, Mary Dozier, recently published a publication in Psychophysiology entitled Depressive symptoms and error‐related brain activity in CPS‐referred children. Click here to read more.

  3. On July 31st and August 1st, Lindsay Zajac and the ABC Intervention Lab hosted the Youth Law Center for their quarterly staff meeting. Carole Shauffer is the Senior Director of the Youth Law Center and serves as Lindsay’s Policy Mentor in the fellowships. Lindsay coordinated the visit and helped facilitate team interactions. The teams consisted of lawyers, social workers, policy advocates, and more. Highlights included a tour of the lab and a panel discussion involving both groups

These three collaborations are great examples of how fellows and mentors continue to work together to produce important contributions to the world of child well-being research. Great work, everyone!


Fellow Spotlight: Aditi Srivastav, Cohort Seven

Aditi Srivastav ,  Cohort Seven  fellow, shares her experience of engaging participants for her dissertation research and how being a Doris Duke fellow has helped her along the way.

Aditi Srivastav, Cohort Seven fellow, shares her experience of engaging participants for her dissertation research and how being a Doris Duke fellow has helped her along the way.

I remember the first semester of my PhD program. We were asked to write papers on a theory—the life course perspective—and how it can be applied to a public health problem that we were interested in. I was stuck—I understood the theory well, but I was not passionate about one particular problem, rather I wanted to fix it all. I wanted to fix poverty, health inequity, and all of the chronic conditions that are prevalent in the U.S. I know…it was extremely ambitious. I ended up deciding to focus on reducing stress, because my professor pointed out that it was not only linked to many other health conditions that my classmates had written about, but was unique because it pulled together literature from across many disciplines.

Since that day, I have known I wanted my dissertation to focus on the macro level so that I could study policy and systemic problems that affect children’s health and well-being. Studying this level could potentially provide insight into ways to improve multiple outcomes for children, families, and communities. My research is focused on understanding policy approaches to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). ACEs are linked to a wide range of health issues, ranging from engaging in risky behaviors to chronic diseases like obesity to early death. Understanding the ways in which we can prevent ACEs from happening by supporting communities and mitigating its long-term impacts can have profound implications on interdisciplinary public health efforts.

To explore policy approaches, I am interviewing stakeholders including those who work directly with children (child-serving professionals) and those who can influence programs and systems that serve children (state policymakers). Child-serving professionals could speak to practicality and effectiveness of policies and programs, including barriers to implementation and opportunities for innovation; while state policymakers provided insight into the feasibility of advocacy for policies, including timeliness, relevance, and political will. The combination of these perspectives will contribute to evidence to improve ACE prevention efforts at a state level. Most importantly, these perspectives are critical in translating my research into action.

It has been incredible to see the response from both populations. I had triple the number of child-serving professionals reach out to be interviewed than originally expected, and I exceeded my goal of recruiting policymakers. The Doris Duke Fellowships has allowed me the ability to travel directly to the policymaker’s districts when they were out of session, reducing barriers and allowing for more detailed interview responses. I am so thankful for my network of peers and mentors in the program that have supported me in getting this far!

I look forward to sharing my results with you all so that together we can fix it all!


Fellows Updates:




Jessica Wilen, Cohort Two fellow, accepted a new position as an Assistant Professor at Yale’s Child Study Center. Congrats, Jessica!







Jennifer Daer Shields, Cohort Six fellow, and Hannah Espeleta, Cohort Eight fellow, recently co-authored a paper, A Qualitative Analysis of Family Perspective on Treatment Services for Youth with Problematic Sexual Behavior in Victims & Offenders. Click here to read more.


Upcoming Dates: