July 2018 Newsletter


Scholars Taking Action For Families

The following piece was written by Emily Bosk, Cohort Two fellow; Megan Finno-Velasquez, Cohort Two fellow; Abigail Ross, Cohort Four fellow; and Tova Walsh, Cohort One fellow

The developmental science is clear. Separating children from their families causes lasting harm to children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. In response to U.S. policies forcibly separating children and parents at the border and policies holding families in detention, Doris Duke Fellows Emily Bosk, Cohort Two; Megan Finno-Velasquez, Cohort Two; Abigail Ross, Cohort Four; and Tova Walsh, Cohort One, have formed the group Scholars Taking Action For Families (STAFF).  STAFF brings together child welfare and child development scholars with immigration experts in order to integrate and coordinate rapid response advocacy efforts in an area where “on the ground” needs and information changes almost daily.

STAFF first came together in June 2018 to complete what they thought to be a one-time collaboration: to draft an open letter to policymakers outlining how separation at the border violates the social work code of ethics. Over the course of one business day, over 2,700 social workers from across the country signed onto the "Letter from Concerned Social Workers.


Drawing on strategies learned while completing the Doris Duke Fellowships, Abigail Ross worked with Francesca Longo, a Cohort Five fellow, who currently serves as a Society for Research on Child Development Fellow in the Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to hand deliver the letter to executive and legislative leadership, including: the President of the United States, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and Congressional leadership. In order to ensure that representatives heard directly from their constituents, STAFF enlisted a geographically diverse group of signatories to send the letter to their representatives and the representatives’ staff members responsible for immigration policy. Many fellows participated in these dissemination activities, demonstrating the strength of the Doris Duke Fellowship network to quickly mobilize advocacy efforts that promote child wellbeing and prevent child maltreatment.

The overwhelming response to the letter highlighted the need for continued coordination between child welfare scholars, child development scholars, others in the academic community (e.g., experts in trauma), and immigration advocates who have a deep knowledge of the specific issues on the ground. As such, STAFF has continued to collaborate on a number of advocacy activities. Most recently, STAFF is partnering with the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare (CIMMCW), directed by Megan Finno-Velasquez, on sustained advocacy efforts. STAFF activities include organizing phone briefings, creating research briefs, providing regular updates on policy as it unfolds and advocacy efforts by partner organizations, and creating and disseminating tips and templates for doing advocacy work. In each of these areas, fellows draw on their training in the Doris Duke Fellowship to provide specific information that advances effective research translation for policymakers and trains researchers on effective policy advocacy.

On June 28th, STAFF and CIMMCW held its first phone briefing for scholars in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission. 117 people attended the briefing and another 50 who were unable to attend requested notes and follow-up materials, demonstrating substantial interest in these efforts. Templates were provided to participants on writing letters to the editor, writing op-eds, and social media advocacy.


Utilizing the strength of the small group model of the Doris Duke Fellowship, STAFF currently has organized three small groups to draft research briefs in areas identified as central to advocacy but where research is not easily accessible or where large research gaps exist. These briefs cover the impact of parental incarceration on children and parents, the context of child and family immigration for recent arrivals at the U.S./Mexico border, and the experience of family detention for parents and children. Additionally, we have organized two other small groups to compile a variety of disparate resources related to family separation and other topics. Research briefs and compiled resources will be disseminated through CIMMCW. Currently, STAFF is pursuing funding to support paid staff time to sustain and build on the momentum of this initiative.

This group of Doris Duke fellows implemented skills and lessons learned through the fellowship to generate impact at the policy level while focusing on supporting vulnerable children and families. If you are interested in joining these efforts, please visit www.cimmcw.org to sign up.


2017 Doris Duke Fellowships Social Network Analysis Report

For the past four years, we have surveyed current and graduated Doris Duke fellows regarding the strength of the peer learning network both within and across cohorts. The 2016-2017 Network Analysis report summarizes the results of our most recent survey of the fellowship’s initial six cohorts. Among several key findings, the report shows that the fellowship has successfully established a strong and connected network of early career researchers. 23% of all possible connections between the 90 fellows participating in the survey occurred during the reporting period. Additionally, over time, the number of cross-cohort interactions increased, due in part to the opportunities the fellowship provided to link current and graduated fellows. Click here to read the full report.


Where in the World are Doris Duke Fellows? Check Out the New Doris Duke Fellows Maps

Click here to view an interactive Google map highlighting the locations of Doris Duke fellows on the website’s “About” page. This map is great for policymakers and practitioners interested in collaborating with a Doris Duke fellow, as well as fellows interested in connecting with geographic collaborators. The Doris Duke fellows network spans 39 states and 2 continents.

DDF Fellows Map.jpg

Also, see above for a static heat map version of the United States of America map of fellows. It’s great to see such expertise and knowledge spread throughout the nation!


Research Reviews with Bart Klika, Cohort One fellow

Each month, Bart Klika, Chief Research and Strategy Officer at Prevent Child Abuse America, highlights some of the latest trends and topics in child abuse and neglect prevention. Watch his latest review on Infant Safe Sleep and Parent Co-Sleeping.


County Home Visiting Work Group Plan Approval


Congratulations to Doris Duke Fellowships Cohort Six fellowsAndi Eastman, Christina DeNard, Lindsay Huffhines, Lindsey Weil, and Kate Stepleton for their work on a collective plan to strengthen home visiting programs in Los Angeles. Los Angeles County finalized the plan this month. It’s great to see research in action! Click here to read the report


Fellows Updates:



Lisa Schelbe, Cohort One fellow, received the Professor of the Year Award from Florida State University College of Social Work Association of Student Social Workers. Congrats!





Jay Miller, Cohort Two fellow, has been named Associate Dean for Research for the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky.



Jennifer Mortensen, Cohort Three fellow, and Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada-Reno is the recipient of a grant from SRCD to study social support for Early Head Start mothers.





Scott Brown, Cohort Six fellow, recently accepted an Associate position at Abt Associates in their Social and Economic Policy division. Congrats!


Debby Moon, Cohort Eight fellow, recently presented at the 25th annual APSAC conference on her research on Preventing Maltreatment through Primary Care-based Parenting Interventions. She also published her work on this in the peer-reviewed journal, Trauma, Violence & Abuse.



Clinton Boyd, Cohort Six fellow, recently co-published an article entitled, The Impact of SafeCare Dads to Kids program on father maltreatment risk and involvement: Outcomes and lessons learned from an efficacy trial in the Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect. Click here for the link!



Megan Finno-Velasquez, Cohort Two fellow, recently co-authored a fact sheet entitled: “Frequently Asked Questions About Separated Children and the Child Welfare System.” The fact sheet was prepared and released in collaboration with the American Bar Association and the Women's Refugee Commission to answer questions regarding the federal government’s role in state child welfare laws


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