Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley
Cohort Eight Fellow

Julia Hernandez.jpg

Academic Mentor
Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD
Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Policy Mentor
Debra Samples
Regional Program Manager, US DHHS, ACF, Children's Bureau

Areas of Expertise
Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Families and Family Systems, Content Analysis, Mixed Methods, Fathers


Julia Hernández is a doctoral candidate at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. Ms. Hernández is interested in the positive supports family members, including extended relatives, can offer children who have been maltreated. As such, her research has focused on kinship care through the probate court as means of formalizing informal care relationships. Her dissertation extends this work pivoting from an examination of children’s outer circle of family to their inner circle - fathers. Under the guidance of Jill Duerr Berrick, Ms. Hernández is conducting dissertation research on father engagement in the child welfare system. Prior to attending UC Berkeley, Ms. Hernández worked at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work on a longitudinal study examining the effects of early childhood maltreatment on adolescent development. Ms. Hernández holds an MSW. from UC Berkeley and a BA from Princeton University. 


Engaging Fathers in the Child Welfare System

This dissertation seeks to address the nuances and missing pieces in the father-engagement and child welfare literatures to better understand the role fathers can and do play as part of a prevention and early intervention strategy supporting children who have been abused or neglect. This exploratory study employs a non-experimental, mixed-methods design with comparative and analytical elements, using data extracted from child welfare case reports. Using data from a two-year cohort of all children who entered the child welfare system in San Francisco County, a systematic content analysis will be conducted to examine the extent and nature of father engagement in an urban county, quantitative analyses to explore the relationship between father engagement and case outcomes, and qualitative analyses to understand the circumstances under which child welfare workers contact fathers.