• Research Assistant Professor, College Of Social Work

Research Statement

Current Research Efforts

I am currently preparing for my qualifying exam which focuses on three bodies of literature embedded in a foundation aimed toward better outcomes for families involved with child welfare systems. In an effort to deliver an effective “product” to at risk children and families, child welfare agencies develop many training segments that, combined, make up their practice model (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2013). The intention to deliver effective services, however, does not guarantee effective service delivery. The federal Child & Family Services Review (CFSR) suggests states experience higher quality caseworker performance when a strong training component is present (Flower, McDonald, & Sumski, 2005). Yet, no state has passed either round of the CFSR to date. Child welfare training literature suggests Utah, like other states, is not paying sufficient attention to how training within the child welfare system is transferred to child welfare field work (Antle, Barbee, & Van Zyl, 2008). The importance of transferring knowledge and skill from training to the field is recognized by multiple disciplines, including medicine, industry, and social services (Fixsen et al., 2005). Increased understanding of the transfer of knowledge and skills from child welfare training to child welfare work may enhance service delivery and therefore improve outcomes for families served.

In 2008, the Children’s Bureau supported the implementation of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) with an aim to build child welfare workforce’s capacity to improve outcomes for the families served (NCWWI, 2010). The research on effective practices in child welfare is growing, yet the implementation of such evidence-based practices in child welfare is not keeping pace (Fixsen, Blasé, Metz, & Van Dyke, 2013). Training child welfare workers to learn and successfully implement desired practices is complex at best. Research on how to effectively improve service delivery is difficult due to these many complexities; from effective training, to sufficient resources, to effective supervisory support of the transfer of learning, to the organizational climate, and so on.

These identified dynamics are the core of my current research interests that focus on discovering the strongest associations among the factors of effective training practices, supervisory support, and relevant implementation science drivers. Central to my research efforts are a critical analysis of the theoretical underpinnings and empirical evidence of these three bodies of literature, including an analysis of research methods used for training, supervision, and implementation science within the child welfare context.

Future Research Goals

Outcomes and implications of my current research efforts may inform future research around the improvement of social work training curriculums, field practice, and policy making at all levels. By examining the relationship among transfer of learning, supervisory support, and implementation science, child welfare agencies across the nation could be more adept at enhancing their “product” in ways more families experience positive outcomes.

In order to help support and inform my developing research skills and future goals in the field of child welfare, I plan to continue my current memberships in the Council on Social Work


Education (CSWE), Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), as well as my participation on the National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium (NHSTES) steering committee, and the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse (CEBC) Advisory Committee.  By attending these conferences and developing academic and other professional partnerships, I intend to support the College of Social Work at the University of Utah in becoming a more prominent leader in strengthening the capacity of Utah’s child welfare system, and being a model for the nation in furthering the work of effective child welfare practice. 





Antle, B. F., Barbee, A. P., Van Zyl, M. A. (2008). A Comprehensive Model for Child Welfare Training Evaluation. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1063-1080.

Fixsen, D., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., & Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, The National Implementation Research Network.

Fixsen, D., Blasé, K., Metz, A., Van Dyke, M. (2013). Statewide Implementation of Evidence-Based Programs. Exceptional Children, 79(2), 213-230.

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2010). Disseminating Child Welfare Workforce Knowledge and Information to the Field: A briefing paper. Albany, NY: Author

Flower, C., McDonald, J., Sumski, M. (2005). Review of Turnover in Milwaukee County Private Agency Child Welfare Ongoing Case Management Staff. Wisconsin: Authors.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS]. (2013). ACF Vision, Mission, & Values. http://www.acf.hh as found on 01NOV13.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • UT IV-E TRAINING (BSW). PI: MCDONALD,CHAD HUGHES. UT DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICE, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2017. Total project budget to date: $596,655.00
  • UT IV-E TRAINING (EVENING). PI: MCDONALD,CHAD HUGHES. UT DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICE, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2017. Total project budget to date: $2,021,101.00
  • UT IV-E TRAINING (STIPENDS). PI: MCDONALD,CHAD HUGHES. UT DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICE, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2017. Total project budget to date: $865,498.00
  • UT IV-E TRAINING (DISTANCE). PI: MCDONALD,CHAD HUGHES. UT DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICE, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2017. Total project budget to date: $1,536,017.00


  • Russian, fluent.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Russian Federation
    Improving child welfare in Russia and other Russian speaking countries.