Research to Action Grants


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The Research to Action (R2A) Grants are an opportunity for teams of researchers and their policy or practice partners to receive up to $80,000 to design and implement an applied research, translation, and dissemination project that focuses on a child well-being policy or practice question. The program prioritizes principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and grants are awarded based in part on teams’ clear commitment to these principles. Project teams are led by Child Well-Being Research Network members. Generously funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, three teams were selected in Round One (June 2021-August 2022) and three additional teams were selected for Round Two (January 2022-March 2023).

Healthcare Access Among Alabama Youth Transitioning from Foster Care with Disabilities

This project explores the multifaceted determinants of healthcare access among youth with disabilities transitioning out of foster care in Alabama. By engaging multiple stakeholders – including youth, caregivers, and child welfare professionals – around issues of healthcare access, this project seeks to inform future health promotion strategies and improve the well-being of youth with disabilities leaving care

Co-PIs are Dr. Leah Cheatham at the University of Alabama and Natasha Langner Smith, PhD student at The University of Alabama’s School of Social Work. Dr. Julia Fleckman at Tulane University, is a consultant for this work. The project’s partner organization is Embrace Alabama Kids, with Ms. Janet Rawls as the primary contact.

Dr. Leah Cheatham Natasha Langner Smith Dr. Julia Fleckman

Partner Organization: Embrace Alabama Kids

Homelessness in Early Head Start: A Statewide Investigation to Promote Child Well-being

In partnership with the Head Start State Collaboration Office, this project will examine homelessness among Early Head Start (EHS) families across the state of Nevada. Researchers will work with Nevada’s grantees to compile administrative data for state-wide analyses examining the nature and scope of homelessness among EHS families, including child and family program experiences. The intended impact is to develop policy recommendations for the state and EHS programs to best serve our state’s most vulnerable infants and toddlers.

Co-PIs are Dr. Jennifer Mortensen at the University of Nevada, Reno and Dr. Katherine Marçal at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Their partner is the Head Start State Collaboration Office in the Nevada Department of Education, with Patrice Gardner as the primary contact. The team also includes Shannon Huslig, Clinical Psychology PhD student at the University of Nevada.

Dr. Jennifer Mortensen Dr. Katherine Marçal Shannon Huslig

Partner Organization: Head Start State Collaboration Office in the Nevada Department of Education



Examination of Key Elements to Successful Implementation of Services for  Youth with Problematic Sexual Behavior: A New Jersey Research Partnership

Most children with Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) in the state of New Jersey are not receiving appropriate evidence-based care for their sexualized behaviors. Historically, many of these children have been responded to punitively and without an appropriate focus on rehabilitation, with differential and harsher responses occurring for those from minoritized backgrounds. This project will explore factors that influence youth and family ability to successfully engage in efficacious treatment for PSB.

Co-PIs are Dr. Jacquelynn Duron, at Rutgers University, and Dr. Jennifer Daer Shields, at the University of Oklahoma. Their partners are the Children’s Aid and Family Services and New Jersey Children’s Alliance, with Melissa South and Nydia Mongas as the primary contacts. The team also includes Yafan Chen, PhD student at Rutgers University.

Dr. Jacquelynn Duron Dr. Jennifer Daer Shields Yafen Chen

Partner Organizations: Children’s Aid and Family Services & New Jersey Children’s Alliance

The next generation of evidence-based home visiting services: Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic experiences with virtual delivery

This project will explore how home visiting programs can pursue innovative service delivery methods in the future to reach families most effectively, particularly families marginalized by race and/or class. This work aims to create an impact by addressing equity in virtual service delivery.

Co-PIs are Dr. Lindsey Bullinger and Dr. Kelley Fong, both at Georgia Tech. Their partner is the National SafeCare Training and Research Center, with Dr. Shannon Self-Brown as the primary contact. The team also includes Ashley Watson, PhD student at Georgia State University, where the SafeCare Training Center is housed.

Dr. Kelley Fong                                     Dr. Lindsey Bullinger                     Ashley Watson

Dr. Kelley Fong Dr. Lindsey Bullinger Ashley Watson

Practice Partner: National SafeCare Training and Research Center


Developing and testing maternal health communication for mothers participating in voluntary parenting programs: Exploring the influence of adverse childhood experiences and parenting stress.

This project aims to understand types of adversity and parenting stress experienced by mothers and how these variables relate to maternal health, by examining factors that impact the persuasiveness of messages about reproductive health services. This project will recruit from programs that serve a high proportion of women of color from disadvantaged communities. The original ACEs questionnaire does not fully capture the experiences of people of color, who are more likely to be exposed to traumatic experiences and environments due to systemic inequities; we will measure an expanded construct of ACEs. Our overarching aim is to reduce disparities in maternal health.

Co-PIs are Dr. Grace Hubel, College of Charleston, and Dr. Aditi Srivastav, Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Their partner is the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. The team also includes Hannah Dee, master’s student in the Child Life Master’s Program at the College of Charleston.

Practice Partner: Children’s Trust of South Carolina


Dr. Grace S. Hubel Dr. Aditi Srivastav Bussells Hannah Dee



A Chicago research partnership to understand inequities in reporting of allegations of abuse, harassment, and misconduct among Child Public Schools students of different racial/ethnic identities

This project will explore the CPS student perceptions of the reporting system and facilitators and barriers to reporting, and how perceptions differ by demographic characteristics. The intended DEI impact is to have a direct focus on marginalized groups, including racial and ethnic minority students and LGBTQ students.

PI is Dr. Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner, University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Leah Gjertson, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, is collaborating on the project. Their partner is the Office of Student Protections and Title IX (OSP) at Chicago Public Schools, with Jemel Townsend, Director of Title IX Coordination as the primary contact. The team also includes Kristen Belcher, Ph.D. candidate at UIC.

Dr. Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner         Dr. Leah Gjertson                                      Kristen Belcher

Dr. Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner Dr. Leah Gjertson Kristen Belcher

Practice Partner: Office of Student Protections and Title IX (OSP) at Chicago Public Schools




Cultural and Contextual Influences on Parenting Among Low-Income Chinese Immigrant Caregivers Living in the Greater Boston Area

Little is known regarding harsh parenting and its influence on children among low-income first and second generation Chinese immigrant caregivers. This project aims to gain an understanding of parenting values, beliefs, practices and motivations among low-income Chinese families and contextual parenting influences.


Practice Partners

Giles Li (Executive Director) and Yoyo Yau (Director of Programs), Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC)


Placement Stability for Commercially Sexually Exploited and System-Involved Youth

Following a presentation made to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors by this group of fellows in November 2018, this team aims to turn the recommendations from the report into an Action Plan for the County to serve sexually exploited youth.


Practice Partner:

Kate Walker Brown, JD, (Director) The National Center for Youth Law


Applied Neuroscience for Child Advocacy: Generating and Translating Brain Science Research for Actionable Use by the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

To address how specific experiences related to childhood poverty change the development of neural circuits related to aggressive behavior, and how specific programs may mitigate these changes.

Graduate Student Collaborator: Rita Taylor, Washington University at St. Louis

Practice Partners: