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

Early Childhood Initiatives, Structural Equation ModelsHome Visiting and Maltreatment Prevention


Dr. Kaela Byers is 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. As a Researcher at Chapin Hall, Byers collaborates on studies that include system-focused evaluation of child welfare, pediatric primary care, and early childhood service systems. In this role, she serves as the quantitative methodologist for a large-scale, multi-site study of pediatric primary care toxic stress prevention initiatives. She also serves on an evaluation team conducting a longitudinal program evaluation of systems innovations in residential treatment for children involved in the Illinois child welfare system.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, 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 studied 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. Past research projects have included studies to develop and validate enhanced screening for early identification of toxic stress, implementation evaluation, and model development. Before joining the University of Kansas, Byers worked for a community mental health center in Kansas providing home- and community-based early childhood mental health services and community mental health consultation to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Byers received her PhD from the University of Kansas’s School of Social Welfare. She received her MSW from the University of Maryland-Baltimore, with a specialization in social action and community development.