News From the Field (March 2021)
National child welfare policy, practice and research
In January, Field Center scholars participated in the 25th annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research. Our research e-poster presented findings from our national survey of current and former foster youth, highlighting the material and financial needs of this vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research, summarized in an abstract available here, underscores the considerable difficulties many young people have experienced since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States. In particular, the study found that females, minority race youth, and youth who aged out of foster care were comparatively more likely to experience pandemic-related adversities such as housing instability, food insecurity, and financial difficulties.

Our survey results have been cited, shared, and presented by researchers, advocates, policymakers and practitioners in pursuit of meeting the needs of older youth with foster care experience during the pandemic.

We also embarked on a new partnership with Think of Us, a nonprofit, systems-change firm focused on transforming child welfare and dedicated to leveraging the lived experience of people with foster care experiences. In response to the widespread need reported by this population, Think of Us is currently disbursing $550,000 in micro-grants between $500 and $1000 to current and former foster youth. With round 1 of the initiative generating 27,000 applications for financial assistance, The Field Center is providing support and mentorship around analysis and interpretation of the data received through the application process. Preliminary data from the grant application is available here.
We are thrilled to highlight Advisory Board member Klair Fitzpatrick. Klair is a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, an international law firm based in Philadelphia. Klair specializes in defending employers in complex employment litigation, single-plaintiff discrimination cases, and whistleblower investigations. Klair received her B.A, cum laude, from University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and her J.D, cum laude, from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2010.

Klair initially learned about the Field Center from a former board member and friend, Andrew Whitney, and was impressed with the cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary approach used to solve some of the most persistent problems facing children. As the daughter of a Philadelphia public school teacher and a Philadelphia police detective, she heard daily about the hardships that many children face. Later, she saw firsthand the catastrophic results of failures in the child welfare system.

As an intern at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Klair assisted with the investigation into the tragic death of Danieal Kelly, a fourteen-year-old who died of starvation while under the protection of the city’s human services agency. Along with her fellow interns, she helped build the case that that proved that the agency tasked with monitoring the wellbeing of Daniel and many other children had been utterly derelict in their duties to protect these vulnerable children. As a result, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to assist the Field Center in fulfilling its mission of working to enhance and assure the well-being of abused and neglected children.
CHILD WELFARE, SOCIAL WORK, AND RESPONDING TO COVID-19 By Jessi Nguyen, Field Center Undergraduate Intern
March of 2021 marks the passage of a full year since the US has been in its ongoing battle against the coronavirus. The unprecedented shift from pre-pandemic living to the domestic and global lockdowns in pursuit of containing the virus undeniably altered everyone’s community, routines, and relationships. As systems nationwide have adapted to this “new normal”, the Field Center team is specifically interested in how the pandemic has impacted our child welfare system throughout the last twelve months. 

Since the very beginning of the health crisis, many experts, professionals, and researchers raised concerns that children would experience new or exacerbated risk for maltreatment. This prediction stems from a fear that social isolation, families being confined to their homes, school closures, and the reduction or closure of available health and other community services would prevent the identification of child maltreatment. Another major domain taken into consideration by advocates is financial strain – families experienced many changes in employment conditions, working hours were cut nationwide, job losses occurred in all sectors, many families earned lower incomes, and unemployment rates rose. Pressures on families to uphold their financial responsibilities, restrictions on mobility within the community, and a growing fear of exposure to the coronavirus lead experts to suspect that there may be an increase in family stress.

Through the Multidisciplinary Student Training Institute, The Field Center provides 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 three of our Spring 2021 student interns below (Full bios here):
Daphne Chimbel joined the Field Center as a volunteer intern for the 2020-2021 Academic Year. She is an Advanced Standing MSW student from the School of Social Policy and Practice with a clinical concentration. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Missouri in 2018. Before attending Penn, Daphne worked for Missouri Alliance for Children and Families as a Care Manager where she supported youth in foster care who had mental health and behavioral care needs.
Jennifer Kwon joined the Field Center in January 2021. She is an Advanced Standing MSW intern from the School of Social Policy and Practice with a clinical concentration, volunteering with the Field Center. Jennifer graduated from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work in 2019. She was a fellow in the Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates Program and has experience in Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families and Delaware County’s Children and Youth Services.
Xuan-Phuc (Jessi) Nguyen joined the Field Center as an undergraduate intern through The Philadelphia Center in February 2021. She is an international student in her junior year at Beloit College in Wisconsin double majoring in Education & Youth Studies and International Relations. Jessi has worked with the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation in Vietnam which provides support to child victims of trafficking and their families.
Field Center experts recently published the following:
Greeson, J. K. P., Gyourko, J. R., Jaffee, S., & Wasch, S. (2021, January). The experiences of older youth in foster care and aged out of foster care during COVID-19. Poster presented at the 25th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research. Abstract available at
What lessons can the child welfare system take from the COVID-19 pandemic? (2021). American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. By Sarah A. Font. Cosigners: Elizabeth Bartholet, Bob J. Bruder-Mattson, Maura Corrigan, Mark Daley, James G. Dwyer, Greg McKay, Jedd Medefind, Emily Putnam-Hornstein, Thea Ramirez, Naomi Schaefer Riley, Cassie Statuto Bevan (Field Center Child Welfare Fellow), and John Walters.

Brumley, L. D., Nauphal, M., Schwartz, L. A., & Jaffee, S. R. (2021). Psychosocial Correlates and Consequences of Adolescents’ Self‐Generated Academic Goals and Appraisals. Journal of Research on Adolescence31(1), 204-217.

Chaiyachati, B., Henrickson, S., Jaffee, S., Wood, J., Gur, R., & Hakonarson, H. (2021). Inflammatory consequences of child maltreatment. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology147(2), AB248.

Ho, J., Susser, P., Christian, C., DeLisser, H., Scott, M. J., Pauls, L. A., Huffenberger, A. M., Hanson, C. W., Chandler, J.M., Fleisher, L. A., & Laudanski, K. (2021, January). Developing the eMedical Student (eMS)—A Pilot Project Integrating Medical Students into the Tele-ICU during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. In Healthcare (Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 73). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.
The Field Center in the Media:
COVID-19 and Women in the Workforce
Penn Today

Johanna K.P. Greeson, associate professor, School of Social Policy & Practice [shares that] since the COVID-19 crisis began, young women in and aged out of foster care have been more likely to report that the pandemic was having a major impact on their financial stability than their male counterparts.
The Experiences of Older Youth in and Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19
Children's Bureau Express

COVID-19 has had a large impact on all levels of society. It has exposed weaknesses in systems and exacerbated disparities among the most vulnerable. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on older youth in foster care and those who have recently aged out.
Protecting Children, Preserving Dreams
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