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Data Center Experts

Fred Wulczyn is a Senior Research Fellow. As the director of the Center for State Child Welfare Data, and the architect of Chapin Hall’s Multistate Foster Care Data Archive (FCDA), he has extensive expertise in analyzing administrative data, and in designing tools and databases which enable state administrators to examine and understand key child welfare outcomes. Fred was responsible for the development of the Illinois integrated longitudinal database on children’s services, which has now been in use for over 25 years. These projects have established him as a prominent figure in the field of collecting and leveraging administrative data, to compare child welfare outcomes across agencies and jurisdictions, test the impact of policy and service innovations, and track progress. Fred’s work has focused on defining social problems, developing social policy, and assessing the impact of public investments, all with an eye toward improving the lives of vulnerable children. Marked by an interdisciplinary perspective, his work draws inspiration from disciplines as diverse as mathematics, population biology, sociology, system dynamics, and social work. Fred holds a Ph.D. from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

Lily Alpert is a Senior Researcher whose work focuses on research evidence use bychild welfare agency administrators and the development of interventions that promote the adoption and diffusion of longitudinal methods in child welfare performance measurement. In addition to her research activities, Lily helps to lead the Center for State Child Welfare Data’s outreach and engagement efforts. In this role she develops training curricula and webinars and works with child welfare agencies to generate evidence about system performance and apply that evidence to the process of improvement. She is an instructor for the Center’s long running Advanced Analytics for Child Welfare Administration seminar and is a developer and instructor for the related cohort-based program EDGE: Evidence Driven Goals and Excellence. Lily received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut.

Lijun Chen is a Senior Researcher whose areas of expertise include modeling and analysis of longitudinal and survival data, development of vulnerable children with multiple childhood adversities and development and experience of children involved with the child welfare system. Lijun works on various projects, including a longitudinal analysis of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) to understand the developmental trajectories of children involved in the child welfare system, a cross-national study of child disciplinary practices funded by UNICEF, and a comprehensive study of child well-being in the China based on China Family Panel Studies survey. He also participates in the performance evaluation of foster care agencies and child welfare systems in different states. Lijun holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

Sara Wolf Feldman is a Senior Researcher who studies the implementation and impact of reform initiatives on key indicators of system performance, with a focus on understanding the at-scale adoption of evidence-based practices in various child welfare contexts, the piloting of experimental practice models, and changes in staffing structures.  She is currently the Principal Investigator of two large-scale Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration projects, both of which involve the active dissemination of evaluation findings into the broader practice arena.  Sara also has extensive experience working with human service organizations to ensure that practice models and approaches to performance measurement are closely aligned with coherent theories of change.  In addition to her research and evaluation activities, Sara serves as one of the instructors for the Data Center’s signature seminar, Advanced Analytics for Child Welfare Administration.  Sara holds a Ph.D. in Social Work from Columbia University.

Kristen Brunner Hislop is a Senior Researcher who has broad experience with dataanalysis, policy analysis, data management, program evaluation, and social service financing. As Project Director of the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive, Kristen coordinates the acquisition and maintenance of Archive data.  She manages the development and processing of the state data as well as the maintenance and ongoing development of the Archive database. Kristen also currently has primary analytic responsibility for performance assessment related to the Texas Foster Care Redesign and San Francisco County Performance Based Contracting and has also had primary analytic responsibility for a utilization review performed for a consortium of children’s behavioral health agencies, and for the coordination of data acquisition and development for the New Jersey Core Child Welfare Database project. Kristen holds a Master of Arts in Public Affairs, with concentrations in policy analysis and management of public and nonprofit organizations, from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Scott Huhr is a Senior Researcher who has broad experience in measuring child agency performance, analyzing the impacts of intervention programs, and constructing various complex predictions models and metrics. Recently, he has been working with child welfare data from multiple states to build longitudinal datasets and conduct statistical analyses that measure child welfare agencies’ impacts and predict child welfare outcomes. Scott is interested in applying quantitative tools to various child welfare, education, and other social policy areas. His area of expertise include: measuring child welfare agency performance, constructing value-added and prediction models, conducting impact analysis and, leveraging Machine Learning. Scott holds a Master of Public Policy from The University of Chicago.

Molly (Mayer) Van Drunen is an Associate Researcher who conducts qualitative research and quantitative analysis and evaluation of systems that support children, families, and their communities. Her work focuses on child welfare systems, with particular emphasis on the use of longitudinal data to observe state child welfare outcomes, data use and interpretation in a continuous quality improvement context, and larger-scale systems analysis. Her work has also included conducting interviews and focus groups, as well as designing and analyzing surveys for various stakeholders. Molly holds a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.

Jamie McClanahan is an Associate Researcher who produces rigorous evidence about system performance using longitudinal analytic files constructed from administrative data and helps child Photo of Jamie McClanahanwelfare systems apply that evidence toward improving outcomes for the children, youth, and families they serve.  Her current work focuses on implementing a methodologically-sound performance measurement system in Tennessee that provides valid and reliable evidence about the performance of the child welfare system and strengthens the system’s internal performance improvement processes, a project that also involves the development and evaluation of predictive risk modeling, performance-based contracting, and computerized adaptive assessment initiatives.  Jamie holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the School of Social Work at the University of Tennessee.

Nancy Neumann is an Associate Researcher who uses her knowledge of SAS programming language to generate longitudinal database structures that summarize children’s experiences in foster care for the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive. In the last 10 years Nancy has helped to organize administrative data for more than 25 states in to the structure of the longitudinal database utilized by the Archive.  In addition to creating the longitudinal database, Nancy also creates the data files that are used to populate the FCDA web tool. She has helped other researchers utilize the longitudinal data to evaluate topics such as placement outcomes, trends over time in the utilization of foster care, and demographic shifts in the population of foster children. Nancy also helps to develop the longitudinal data files for the Pennsylvania and New York City Title IV-E Waiver projects. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska.

Emily Rhodes is a Researcher whose work currently focuses on helping public and private child welfare agencies use administrative data to assess and improve child welfare systems. Emily has experience with quantitative and qualitative program evaluation of child welfare, youth violence prevention, and early education programs. She is currently studying a federally funded demonstration of supportive housing for families involved in the child welfare system, and conducting a cost study of a Title IV-E Waiver for alternative child welfare services. Emily holds a Bachelor in Public Policy Studies and a Master in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Florie Schmits is an Associate Researcher who uses survey and administrative data togenerate evidence about child welfare outcomes and system performance. Florie works on multiple innovative research projects including an analysis of foster home capacity based on the new foster home spell files developed by the Center for Child Welfare Data, and a collaborative study with the University of California and the University of Melbourne on foster care reentry after reunification or placement with guardianship. The latter study will help understand at risk populations and potential candidates for preventive services. Florie holds a Master of Science in Policy, Communications and Organization from the VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Laura Packard Tucker is a Researcher whose work focuses on applying quantitative and qualitative research methods to policy research in the field of child welfare. Her research is centered on longitudinal data to understand and monitor states’ child welfare outcomes, and the fiscal effects of child welfare policy, as well as the development of administrative data to support program evaluation in a continuous quality improvement framework.  In addition to her research activities, she is an instructor for the Center’s Advanced Analytics for Child Welfare Administration seminar and has had the opportunity to conduct the course in several jurisdictions across the country. Laura holds a Master in Financial Analysis from Portland State University.

Jianyu Wang is a senior Oracle Database Administrator who works primarily as a data analyst and programmer. Since 2002, he has worked on numerous projects pertaining to foster care, residential care, and child maltreatment.  He has designed relational databases and websites for The Center for State Child Welfare Data, a three tiered online data processing system serving over 25 states.  His current work focuses on improving the online system to support dynamic and remote processing and analysis. More recently, he has been exploring the relevance of Machine Learning to the Data Center projects and priorities. Jianyu holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Ohio State University.

Jinjin Zhang is a Researcher with over 15 years of experience working as a biostatistician and research analyst in the field of children’s mental health and well-being. In her current work she conducts empirical research using administrative data to help child welfare agencies understand the outcomes they achieve. Jinjin mainly works with the State of Tennessee and Mississippi where she uses SAS programming to develop analytic files that can be used to analyze the administrative data. She is responsible for processing quarterly and annual updates of Tennessee’s files for the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive. Her areas of expertise include statistical modeling and programming techniques, and working with longitudinal data for administrative and complex surveys. Jinjin holds a Master of Science in Health Care Research from the University of Calgary, Canada, and a Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from University of Kanazawa, Japan.

Xiaomeng Zhou is a Senior Researcher who applies quantitative and qualitative research methods to child welfare policy research and evaluation projects. Her current work focuses on thePhoto of Xiaomeng Zhou evaluation of residential care service arrays under the Family First Prevention Services Act, the development and assessment of performance-based contracting initiatives, and monitoring and evaluating child welfare outcomes in different jurisdictions. Her early work on the Multistate Foster Care Profile Project, which employed longitudinal analysis to evaluate the key child welfare outcome indicators, helped build the foundation of the state profile reports for the Foster Care Data Archive website. Her areas of expertise include research design, longitudinal data development and analysis, and program evaluation. Xiaomeng holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Samantha Crockett is the Center’s Project Coordinator, ensuring the efficient operation of the Data Center’s research team by providing administrative and project managementPhoto of Samantha Crockett support. Samantha holds a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University.