Social Welfare, University of Pennsylvania
Cohort Six Fellow

Academic Mentor
Antonio Garcia
School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania

Policy Mentor
Stephanie Shell
Director of Organizational Advancement, Wordsworth

Research Interests
Implementation Science, Child Welfare Policy and Practice, Child Welfare Reform

Areas of Expertise

Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Evidence-Based/Evidence-Informed Programs, Implementation Science, Regression Modeling, Mixed Methods, Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, Rural Populations, Social Service Providers

Christina DeNard is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. In addition to other child welfare practice experiences, Ms. DeNard worked as a success coach social worker where she had the unique opportunity to participate in the creation and provision of an intervention to families with children exiting foster care, while also assisting in mitigating the challenges of its implementation within the agency. These work experiences influenced Ms. DeNard’s research interests, which include examining the implementation of evidence-based practices within child welfare agencies, child welfare policy and practice, and child welfare reform. Ms. DeNard received her Masters of Social Work and certification as a Child Welfare Education Collaborative Scholar from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Child Welfare Caseworker Referrals: A Pivotal Role in the Uptake of EBPs

This project seeks to increase the utilization of evidence-based practices (EBPs) to treat and prevent child maltreatment for families involved in the child welfare system by exploring the brokering mechanism of child welfare caseworker referrals. Based on the Theory of Planned Behavior and Diffusion of Innovations literature, this study will explore the strength and predictability of child welfare caseworkers’ intention to refer to EBPs as well as the effect of contextual facilitators and barriers on actual child welfare caseworker referrals to EBPs. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected on caseworker decision making around referring families, their relationships with EBP providers, and actual referral patterns of child welfare caseworkers at two agencies that are implementing an evidence-based parenting program. Findings from this study can inform how agencies integrate EBPs into their agencies and the child welfare service array to maximize child welfare caseworker referrals to ensure that families can access EBPs to prevent future child maltreatment.