PhD, Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis
Cohort Two Fellow

Academic Mentor
Patricia Kohl
Professor, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis

Policy Mentor
Susan Shelton
Regional Director, St. Louis County Children's Division

Current Institutional Affiliation
University of South Carolina: Assistant Professor

Areas of Expertise

Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Families and Family Systems, Maternal Health


As an assistant professor in the College of Social Work at University of South Carolina, Dr. Kristen Seay’s research focuses on improving the lives of families affected by parental substance use disorders. Dr. Seay earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work. After receiving her MSW, Dr. Seay investigated reports of child abuse in Georgia and in Alabama, where she gained valuable insight into the lives of parents who struggle with addiction. These experiences motivated her to earn her doctorate with a focus on parental substance use and its impact on children and families.

Through her scholarship, Dr. Seay seeks to decrease child maltreatment, enhance parenting, and improve the well-being of vulnerable children and families. Her research focuses on the impact and treatment of substance use disorders in families with a particular focus on the relationship from substance use to the occurrence of child abuse and neglect. Dr. Seay has also conducted work to improve the lives of children in the foster care system and to better understand the causes and consequences of child maltreatment.

Dr. Seay is the PI on projects funded by The Duke Endowment and Children’s Trust of South Carolina through funding from the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation. She was also the recipient of three competitive dissertation grants: a National Research Service Award (NRSA) Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (F31DA034442) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being, and a Fahs-Beck Doctoral Dissertation Grant.