The Child Welfare Fellows are a group of Steve Hick’s School of Social Work Ph.D. students who are collaborating alongside TXICFW staff to produce child welfare research dissemination products by conducting research analysis and writing publications to advance the field of social work and child welfare.
Meet this year’s Fellows:
I’ve always known I wanted to work with children, and have worked or volunteered in many settings such as daycares, schools, community centers, and organizations that support youth in foster care. However, it was a two-week trip to Guatemala in 2007 that made me realize that to support children, we need to support their families. As part of the project in Guatemala, I volunteered at a daycare center for families who lived and worked in the city garbage dump. One of the last days there, I noticed that only half of the children had come to school. When I asked the tias (center staff) why this was, they told me that several families were attending a funeral for one of the 3-year-olds who had attended the center and died because of complications of a parasite. While this news was astonishing enough, I was shocked to learn that a $5 medication could have cured the child–but the family had multiple children and couldn’t afford the bus ticket to the hospital. Experiencing this level of poverty first-hand, I realized that more support and services needed to be available to families so that they could break the cycle of poverty and inequity for themselves and their children. Since this experience, I have worked with several organizations connected to child welfare systems in Latin America, and learned the importance of empowering and engaging communities so that any services or interventions fit the needs that they identify for themselves, and are more likely to be sustainable and more meaningful.
Adverse childhood experiences, particularly abuse and neglect, can have profoundly negative consequences on our health, relationships, and overall well-being. I choose to study these topics because understanding the relationships between trauma and negative outcomes can provide novel insights in developing interventions and strategies for prevention and change. Knowing that we have the potential to transform intergenerational patterns of trauma and abuse into something better is a continuous wellspring of hope that drives my passion for research in this area.
My background as a CPS caseworker and supervisor directly informs my work as a child welfare researcher. My goal is to conduct policy-relevant, applied research to improve services and outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system.