Developmental Psychology
Cohort 5 Fellow

Academic Mentor
Jodi Quas
Department of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine

Policy Mentors
Maria Hernandez
Presiding Judge, Orange County Superior Court

Nancy Wilkov
General Magistrate, The Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida

Research Interests
Children and families’ juvenile justice system involvement; procedural and distributive justice; child eyewitness testimony; child welfare

Areas of Expertise

Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Regression Modeling, Low-Income Families and Individuals, Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, Parents in Child Welfare System

Kyndra Cleveland is a doctoral candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of California Irvine where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and specializing in Psychology & Law and Quantitative Methods. Her work focuses on children and families’ experiences with the juvenile justice system. Ms. Cleveland has received fellowships and grants supporting her work from the American Psychology-Law Society, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Cleveland was also awarded the UCI Social Ecology Dean’s Award for Community Engagement, which recognized the public impact of her research with children. She has presented her research at national conferences including those held by the American Psychology-Law Society and the Society for Research in Child Development. Kyndra graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a B.S. in psychology. She has a M.A. in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine.


Parental Engagement in the Dependency System: Intervening on Behalf of Families

A great deal of attention has been devoted to documenting the experiences of children involved in the dependency division of the juvenile justice system. Such insight is critical to inform policies that profoundly affect maltreated children and their families. However, the experiences of another population involved in the dependency system are equally important--namely those of the children’s parents. Their experiences, perceptions, and understanding have enormous potential to affect not only their behaviors, but also the decisions rendered during the case and its eventual outcome. The current study will systematically examine understanding of, attitudes toward, and motivation to engage with the dependency system in parents involved in ongoing dependency cases following substantiated maltreatment of their child. A community sample of parents will also be surveyed about their general knowledge and attitudes concerning the dependency system in order to document the perceptions of parents who may be at-risk for dependency system involvement. Findings will provide valuable information that can facilitate the pursuit of justice for all involved in dependency cases.