News From the Field (FALL 2021)
National child welfare policy, practice and research
Professor Dorothy Roberts, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society at the University of Pennsylvania, will be exploring this idea in her upcoming lecture on child welfare during the Fall 2021 Race and Regulation Series sponsored by the Penn Program on Regulation. The series “seeks to enhance and foster inquiry into how government regulation has contributed to racial inequities as well as how changes to regulatory policies could be used to dismantle racist structures in society.” The Field Center is co-sponsoring Professor Roberts’ lecture, Black Families Matter: How the U.S. Family Regulation System Punishes Poor People of Color. The virtual event, scheduled for November 16, 2021 at 5:00pm, is free and open to the public.
Penn Today, the main news hub for The University of Pennsylvania, took a deep dive into the research at The School of Social Policy & Practice addressing social inequities. The expansive article, ‘The passionate pursuit of social justice’, highlights the critical nature of child welfare work broadly, and uniquely recognizes The Field Center for its contributions to the field. Featuring interviews with Managing Faculty Director Dr. Johanna Greeson, Program Manager Sarah Wasch, and PhD Student John Gyourko, Penn Today explores challenges plaguing the foster care system.

While SP2 Dean Sally Bachman says that “All of the school’s endeavors are ‘inevitably pointed at addressing social inequities and oppression’,” the Field Center team recognizes the need to bring additional research, policy, and compassion to child welfare. Penn Today addresses this connection, quoting Gyourko: “Thinking about the foster care systems and the child protection mechanisms we currently have in place in the United States, is there a need for systemic reform? Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. Research should play a key role as we move forward with those efforts.”

Read the full article in Penn Today here.
By Nimo Ali, Field Center Lerner Fellow in Child Welfare Policy
The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, or ICWA, set federal requirements to state child custody proceedings involving Native American children, adding additional protections and considerations to ensure children stay with family, with their tribe, and stay connected to their community. The act made it federal policy to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” [1] due to Congressional findings of the disproportionate and “alarmingly high percentage of Indian families [that] are broken up by removal, often unwarranted.” [2] The findings were buttressed by the history of removal, their damaging impact on Native American children, and the importance of sovereignty and stability to the survival of tribes. While progress has been made, The National Indian Child Welfare Association has found that Native American children are still disproportionately removed and put in out-of-home placement, with Native American children four times as more likely to be removed and placed in foster care than White children.

While legal challenges to ICWA are not a new occurrence, in 2013 the Supreme Court held that ICWA does not protect the parental rights of a Native parent if they have never had physical custody of their Native child in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, significantly narrowing the interpretation of the law. [3] In the same year, 18 of the nation’s leading organizations on child welfare filed an amicus brief in support of ICWA in another case, including Casey Family Programs, Children’s Defense Fund, and the Child Welfare League of America arguing that ICWA practices are universal best practices. In December 2016, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published additional federal guidelines to state courts and in the same month, Federal regulations were enacted as a final rule addition to ICWA to improve proceedings and ensure implementation across states.

Currently, the future of the Act and its protections are being appealed to the Supreme Court to review in Brackeen v. Haaland (formerly Brackeen v Bernhardt), with both sides submitting petitions asking for constitutional review…
Click here to read the full article.
Stay tuned for more ICWA updates from the Field Center as the case progresses!
Through the Multidisciplinary Student Training Institute, The Field Center provides research, internship and field placement opportunities for selected students across multiple disciplines. Students receive training, career mentorship, and hands-on work opportunities within the field of child welfare. Meet two of our new students who joined the Field Center during the 2020-2021 academic year below:
Nimo Ali is a J.D. Candidate in her second year at Penn Law and the Field Center’s 2021-2022 Lerner Fellow in Child Welfare Policy. Prior to law school, Nimo worked in education policy and administration for eight years in Philadelphia and New York, and served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar. At Penn Law, she volunteers with the Youth Advocacy Project and serves as co-chair on the board of Penn’s Law Students for a Democratic Society, the Advocacy Co-Chair on the board of Black Law Students Association, and as an Associate Editor on the Journal of Law and Social Change. Nimo earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Carleton College in 2011. (Full bio here).
Sarah Gzesh joined the Field Center in May 2021, and is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. Sarah is currently conducting research with Managing Faculty Director Dr. Johanna Greeson on a study entitled “I Was Already Broke: Now I Feel Broken: Amplifying the Voices of Youth Experiencing & Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19 and Its Impact on Mental Health.” Prior to doctoral studies, Sarah worked in direct practice with marginalized young people for over a decade, as both an educator and therapist. After studying Art History and English at Bryn Mawr College, Sarah joined Teach for America, and earned a Secondary English Teaching Credential, teaching English Language Arts and Critical Theory in the Bay Area, CA. Sarah earned a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, in the clinical track for Children, Youth, and Families. As a clinician, Sarah supported system-involved youth experiencing sexual exploitation, substance use, and homelessness. (Full bio here).
Program Manager Sarah Wasch moderated a panel titled “Connecting the Dots: Moving Towards Recovery, Reengagement, and Accelerating Learning” at the Center for Schools and Communities’ Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference.
Faculty Director Johanna Greeson and Program Manager Sarah Wasch presented a session titled “Prevalence and Correlates of Sex Trafficking Among Homeless and Runaway Youths Presenting for Shelter Services” at the San Diego Human Trafficking Research and Data Advisory Roundtable Research Conference.

Field Center experts recently published the following:
Greeson, J.K.P., Gyourko, J.R., Ortiz, A.J., Coleman, D., & Cancel, S.(2021).“One hundred and ninety-four got licensed by Monday”: Application of design thinking for foster care innovation and transformation in Rhode Island. Children and Youth Services Review, 128

Barth, R. P., Berrick, J. D., Garcia, A. R., Drake, B., Jonson-Reid, M., Gyourko, J. R., & Greeson, J. K. P. (2021). Research to Consider While Effectively Re-Designing Child Welfare Services. Research on Social Work Practice.

Pfeifer, C. M., Henry, M. K., Caré, M. M., Christian, C. W., Servaes, S., Milla, S. S., & Strouse, P. J. (2021). Debunking fringe beliefs in child abuse imaging: AJR expert panel narrative review. American Journal of Roentgenology.

Riley, N. S., Drake, B., Font, S. A., & Putnam-Hornstein, E., Anderson, E., Bartholet, E., Bruder-Mattson, B., Cohen, M., Corrigan, M., Dwyer, J., Haag, J., Hughes, S., McKay, G., Medefind, J.,Ramirez, T., Statuto-Bevan, C. (Field Center Child Welfare Fellow) and Walters, J. (2021). What Child Protection Is For. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Jaffee, S. R., Sligo, J. L., McAnally, H. M., Bolton, A. E., Baxter, J. M., & Hancox, R. J. (2021). Early‐onset and recurrent depression in parents increases risk of intergenerational transmission to adolescent offspringJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry62(8), 979-988.
Holochwost, S. J., Wang, G., Kolacz, J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Klika, J. B., & Jaffee, S. R. (2021). The neurophysiological embedding of child maltreatmentDevelopment and psychopathology33(3), 1107-1137.

Recent external grants received by faculty directors:

Co-Faculty Director and Professor of Psychology Dr. Sara Jaffee has been awarded a Klein Family Social Justice Initiative grant, a new program of University of Pennsylvania Arts & Sciences 
contributing to the achievement of social justice through research and teaching, and through community engagement rooted in the arts and sciences. Dr. Jaffee's project, "Belonging, Daily Emotions, and Academic Performance in First-Generation Students", will test how first-generation, low income students’ sense of belonging in college impacts their day-to-day emotional experiences and grades. 

Co-Faculty Director Dr. Caroline Watts and colleagues from the Penn Graduate School of Education and the Netter Center received a $100,000 grant from Projects for Progress and an additional $125,000 in funding from the William Penn Foundation for their project, "Bridging Gaps and Building Capacity." 
Co-Faculty Director Dr. Caroline Watts received a grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation to evaluate their Restart initiative, which gave small grants to nearly 50 schools to support efforts to reopen school this fall.
The Field Center in the Media:
Protecting Children, Preserving Dreams
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