PhD, Social Work, Rutgers University (Year)
Cohort One Fellow

Academic Mentor
Cassandra Simmel
Assistant Professor, Rutgers University School of Social Work

Policy Mentor
Allison Blake
Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Children and Families

Current Institutional Affiliation
Rutgers University School of Social Work: Assistant Research Professor

Research Interests
Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Early Childhood Education and Initiatives, Evidence-Based/Evidence-Informed Programs, Home Visiting and Maltreatment Prevention, Implementation Science, Prevention Science, Program Evaluation, Longitudinal Data Analysis, Regression Modeling, Structural Equation Models, Case Study Research, Content Analysis, Mixed Methods, PhenomenologyAdolescents and Young Adults, Homeless Families and Young PeopleInfants and Toddlers, Low-Income Families and Individuals, Preschool-aged Children, School-aged Children


Dr. Kerrie Ocasio is an Assistant Research Professor with the Institute for Families (IFF) at the Rutgers University School of Social Work (SSW) and affiliated with the SSW’s Child Welfare and Well-Being Research Unit. Her overarching research interest involves the effectiveness of child abuse prevention and protection services and supports, which is explored through research on the experiences of foster youth transitioning to adulthood, adoption support practices, parent motivation to participate in services, and the implementation of family-centered practice approaches. Dr. Ocasio’s research is informed by more than 10 years in child welfare practice and policy, including early childhood home visiting, school-linked services, child protection investigations and family drug court services. She is currently leading two RCTs: a case practice intervention intended to promote the use of the protective factors in child protective service case plans for young families with young children and promote collaboration with community-based early childhood service providers; and a teaming model to promote relational and legal permanency for youth that have been legally free for 18 months or longer without an identified home. She is also leading two non-experimental research projects: a needs assessment and training initiative to promote the use of the NJ Standards for Prevention Programs in the State; and a needs assessment and outcomes study of former foster youth attending college in NJ, in addition to contribution on numerous child welfare projects currently underway at IFF. Dr. Ocasio also participates in special projects with the Prevention Committee of the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, recently chairing their revisions to the State's Standards for Child Abuse Prevention Programs.