PhD, Social Welfare, University of Kansas
Cohort Three Fellow

Academic Mentor
Thomas P. McDonald
Associate Dean of Research and Professor, University of Kansas School of Social Welfare

Policy Mentor
David Lindeman
Director and Senior Researcher, Kansas University Lifespan Institute/Bureau of Child Research/ Department of Special Education

Current Institutional Affiliation
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago: Researcher

Areas of Expertise

Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Early Childhood Education and InitiativesHome Visiting and Maltreatment Prevention, Mental Health and Well-Being, Program Evaluation, Structural Equation ModelsMixed MethodsInfants and Toddlers


Dr. Kaela Byers is a Cohort Three Doris Duke Fellow and received her PhD from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare in 2016. She is currently a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include early intervention and prevention to promote child well-being, particularly among vulnerable populations. At Chapin Hall, her current projects include system-focused evaluation of programs for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and research related to early childhood toxic stress.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Dr. Byers was a researcher at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Center for Children and Families. Her research and scholarship focused on ecobiodevelopmental and cross-systems approaches to the promotion of child well-being; areas included toxic stress screening, promotion of child and family protective factors, and implementation and evaluation of evidence-based interventions in child welfare, early childhood, and community mental health service settings. Past research projects have included studies to develop and validate enhanced screening for early identification of toxic stress, implementation evaluation, and model development. Dr. Byers' professional experience also includes providing home and community-based early childhood mental health services and community mental health consultation to Head Start and Early Head Start programs. This work included integration of data-driven assessment into a therapeutic preschool setting.

Dr. Byers received a BSW from the University of Kansas and an MSW from the University of Maryland-Baltimore.