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Child Well-Being and Education Research

Project Theme(s): Community Engaged Research & Evaluation, Systems Change, Vulnerable Populations & Community

Area Description: Our work in the Child Well-Being and Education Research area focuses on how the interaction of social contexts and individual factors influence the behavioral functioning, development, and academic outcomes of children and youth. This program of research has two main strands. One strand focuses on how children’s experiences in home, school, and community settings are related to their academic performance and behavioral health through their influence on children’s social-emotional skills and self-concept. Within this research, we aim to understand how the experience of economic class and race/ethnicity interact with social-psychological processes to contribute to group disparities in children’s well-being and academic outcomes.

A second strand of our work focuses on the application of school-based program evaluation approaches that are rigorous, practical, and useful for practitioners who serve children and youth. Most of this work occurs within the context of collaborative education-related partnerships between researchers and practitioners. The main aim is to ensure that evaluations produce high quality evidence that addresses key questions around program effectiveness as well as how data can be used to continuously improve upon practices and policies that impact children and youth.

Both strands of work involve the use of methodological and data analytic approaches suited for detecting program effects and examining social-psychological processes across time and different social contexts. Related to this interest, Dr. Strambler co-teaches the seminar on Data Analytic Methods in Prevention and Community Research with Dr. Christian Connell for the Division of Prevention and Community Research Postdoctoral Training Program.


Evaluation of Bridgeport social emotional learning initiative: As a member of the partnership between Bridgeport Public Schools, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and The Consultation Center, Dr. Strambler and his project team are responsible for the evaluation of RULER in Bridgeport, CT. RULER is an evidence-based approach designed to support the development of social emotional learning and Bridgeport is engaged in a district-wide implementation across K-8 grade levels. In addition to understanding the effects of RULER on social-emotional skills, school climate, and academic performance, a key aim is to understand how data can be used by school staff to continuously improve upon practices that support the wellbeing of students.

Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER): Dr. Strambler directs PEER, a research-practice partnership focused on improving early child education practices across three regions in southern Connecticut. PEER was created in 2014 with funding from Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to build capacity in Connecticut for conducting high-quality, policy-relevant research that can inform early childhood education policy and practice. One of the key goals of this grant was create a collaborative agenda with practitioners, which PEER has completed and is now in the process of pursuing. The PEER research agenda focuses on four areas: (1) Program Quality (including Pedagogy & Curriculum and Teacher Training & Professional Development), (2) Preparing for the Kindergarten Transition, (3) Dual Language Learners, and (4) Family & Community Services. To learn more about PEER, please visit

Evaluation of college readiness program: As the senior evaluator, Dr. Strambler leads a team in the evaluation of Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP Partnership, a researcher-practitioner collaborative between Yale University, Bridgeport Public Schools, and numerous community-based organizations and institutions designed to support college readiness. Dr. Nadia Ward directs the GEAR UP Partnership, which consists of delivering social, academic, and life skills to a cohort of students from 7th grade through high school graduation. Part of this evaluation aims to understand the effects of programming on students’ mental health, self-concept, and academic engagement and performance.


  • Associate Professor Adjunct, Psychiatry; Co-Director, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry; Director, Child Development and Epidemiological Research, The Consultation Center

    Christian M. Connell, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Co-director of the Division of Prevention and Community Research at Yale School of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. in clinical-community psychology from the University of South Carolina and completed predoctoral and postdoctoral training at The Consultation Center at Yale University, Department of Psychiatry. His research interests address contextual risk and protective processes that influence behavioral and other outcomes for child and adolescent populations exposed to trauma and adversity, with a particular focus on children and families involved with the child welfare and children's behavioral health systems. In addition to evaluation research examining influences on child safety, permanency, and wellbeing in these contexts, Dr. Connell conducts research and evaluation on community-based and family-focused interventions to improve family functioning and child wellbeing following incidents of child maltreatment or foster care placement. His research is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Administration for Children and Families, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and by state and local sources. Dr. Connell has training and expertise in the use of advanced multivariate quantitative data analytic methods to examine risk and protective processes associated with behavioral outcomes for children and adolescents. He teaches a postdoctoral seminar on Data Analytic and Research Methods for Prevention and Community-based Research within the Division of Prevention and Community Research Postdoctoral Training Program in Substance Abuse Prevention.

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Assistant Chair for Diversity, Department of Psychiatry; Director, Program Evaluation and Child Trauma Research at The Consultation Center

    Cindy A. Crusto, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section), Yale University School of Medicine, is the Director of Program and Service System Evaluation at The Consultation Center. Dr. Crusto has more than 20 years of experience in developing, implementing, and evaluating preventive interventions in schools and community agencies. She also has extensive experience providing training and technical assistance to schools and to community-based organizations on the evaluation of prevention programs. She is interested in culturally relevant interventions for children from racial/ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds and in school-based behavioral health services. Dr. Crusto's research examines the impact of family violence on children and the ecological influences on child and family well-being, and includes rigorous evaluations of community-based initiatives involving substance use and violence prevention, and the promotion of school readiness.

    Dr. Crusto earned a B.A. in psychology from Vassar College, an M.A. in clinical-community psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Ph.D. in clinical-community psychology from the University of South Carolina. She completed pre-doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships in clinical-community psychology at Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Research, Policy and Program on Male Development, The Consultation Center

    Derrick Gordon, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section) at Yale University School of Medicine, is the Director of the Program on Male Development in the Division of Prevention and Community Research of the Department of Psychiatry, and is a Core scientist in the Community Research Core of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). Dr. Gordon has considerable experience in intervention and prevention development having served as an investigator on several federal, NIH, and state funded projects and studies focused on those factors that either support or undermine men transitioning from prison back to the community; the engagement of low-income, non-custodial fathers; the identification and service of adolescent fathers committed to child protection services; and men mandated to batterer intervention groups in the community. He is currently a co-investigator and a minority supplement recipient on an NIH funded project that examines the STI risk of heterosexual young men to their pregnant female partners. As part of his supplement, Dr. Gordon is interested in understanding how the young men use preventive health care services and the factors that either facilitate or inhibit their access. Dr. Gordon’s work with men has and continues to focus on increasing the health of men and their positive involvement in family and community life. In his mentorship role, pre- and post doctoral fellows get to explore with Dr. Gordon how issues like adolescent fatherhood, low income fatherhood status, transitioning from prison to the community, and men’s access and use of health care services impact their efforts to be healthy community members. Overall Dr. Gordon in his research seeks to identify those factors that enhance the access and use of preventive and indicated health care services by men on the “fringes.”

  • Professor of Psychiatry; Deputy Director, The Consultation Center, Psychiatry

    Joy S. Kaufman, PhD is a Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section), Yale School of Medicine and Deputy Director at the Yale Consultation Center where she also directs the areas of Program and Service System Evaluation and Evaluation Research. Trained as a Clinical and Community Psychologist, Dr. Kaufman conducts large-scale, multi-level evaluations of health service delivery systems, provides consultation to governmental and community organizations regarding these evaluations, and carries out related research. These evaluations take place in under-resourced communities; involve close partnerships with state and municipal governments, community organizations, and other public stakeholders; and generate data that informs program and policy development. A unique feature of her work is the training of public stakeholders to evaluate the services they receive or to utilize data so that they can provide rigorous and systematic feedback to improve services and participate in decision-making about their community. Dr. Kaufman's research interests include the identification of contextual factors that impact outcomes for individuals with emotional and behavioral difficulties.

  • Senior Research Associate

    Joanna Meyer brings over sixteen years of experience in public education to her role at The Consultation Center, where her work focuses on early childhood through the Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER) and social and emotional learning through school-based research in Connecticut and New York. To these projects, Meyer brings ten years of experience as an educator and six years in school-university partnerships, a foundation that helps her to develop mutually-beneficial relationships among organizations and advocate for diverse stakeholder interests.

    Meyer’s teaching experience spans three school districts, a Job Corps center, and two experiential learning settings. As a high school STEM teacher, Meyer led her school’s decennial accreditation process with New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and coordinated the design and pilot of six school-wide rubrics focused on interdepartmental learning expectations. Meyer also served as a fellow of the Maine Writing Project, a mentor teacher for the teacher preparation program at the University of Maine's College of Education and Human Development, and a coordinating teacher for the NSF GK-12 program at the University of Maine's College of Engineering. These experiences increased Meyer’s interest in school improvement and teacher leadership.

    In 2011, Meyer transitioned from the classroom to the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP), a NSF-funded collaboration between the University of Maine's Research in STEM Education (RiSE) Center and 12 local school districts that focuses on improving the teaching and learning of science in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. At the MainePSP, Meyer provided professional development and leadership to teachers who were implementing one or more year-long MainePSP curricula in their grade 6-9 classrooms and engaged in STEM education research. This role required balancing the needs and perspectives of researchers and practitioners, which Meyer found both fascinating and rewarding.

  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Child Wellbeing and Education Research

    I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from University of California at Berkeley and conducted my predoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Upon completing this fellowship, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rush Neurobehavioral Center with funding from the William T. Grant Foundation. I completed my postdoctoral training at The Consultation Center at Yale within the Division of Prevention and Community Research at Yale School of Medicine with support from the Ford Foundation. I began my faculty career as an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale and have been an Assistant Professor since 2014.

    Currently, I direct Child Well-Being and Education Research at The Consultation Center at Yale where I am also a Senior Evaluation Consultant for YaleEval. My work has two main themes. One theme focuses on the role of social environments in the academic, psychological, social, and behavioral well-being of children and youth. A second theme examines whether and how school-based programs and practices improve the academic performance and health of children and emphasizes practical approaches for how to use data to inform practices and policies. Much of my work occurs in the context of partnerships between researchers and practitioners. One such project I direct is the Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER;, a research-practice partnership between three Connecticut communities. 

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Co-Director, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Psychiatry; Co-Director, NIDA-funded T32 Training Program in Substance Use Prevention Research, Psychiatry; Director, Family Violence Research and Programs, Psychiatry

    Dr. Sullivan's program of research is centered on individual- and system-level factors that affect the wellbeing of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), with specific attention to daily processes and micro-longitudinal designs. At the individual level, Dr. Sullivan's work aims to advance understanding of the relationships among IPV and its highly prevalent negative outcomes such as posttraumatic stress, substance use, and sexual risk in an effort to develop preventive interventions that promote safety and resilience. At the systems-level, she conducts IPV research and evaluation within the criminal justice and other service systems. She studies the impact of the system’s response on victims’ wellbeing including the ways in which it promotes or impedes victims’ safety, recovery and resilience. She collaborates with community partners locally and nationally to study the impact of criminal justice system interventions, including being a key investigator on the National Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative, a multi-site evaluation of two interventions to reduce IPV and IPV-related homicide across the United States. She disseminates findings broadly to have the greatest impact including to professionals (e.g., to court-based practitioners through the Center for Court Innovation) and the general public (Cosmopolitan magazine). Dr. Sullivan is a licensed psychologist who has extensive clinical experience with victims and offenders of IPV, providing services in a range of settings from community programs, dual diagnosis programs, inpatient settings, and outpatient clinics to domestic violence shelters, transitional living programs, and community programs.

  • Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology), in the Child Study Center and of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Director, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry; Director, The Consultation Center; Chief Psychologist, Connecticut Mental Health Center; Program Director, NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Substance Abuse Prevention

    Jacob Kraemer Tebes is Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) and in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, and Professor of Epidemiology (Social and Behavioral Sciences), Yale School of Public Health. He is also Director of the Division of Prevention and Community Research in the Department of Psychiatry, Executive Director of The Consultation Center, and Chief Psychologist at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. He received his B.S. in Psychology from Georgetown University and his Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After completing a doctoral fellowship at Yale, he joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry. His professional activities include research, service, teaching, and administration, much of it centered on issues related to equity and social justice. His research focuses on the promotion of resilience in at risk populations; the prevention of adolescent substance use; school- and community-level trauma-informed interventions, and service system outcomes in behavioral health and child welfare services. His scholarship has also focused on philosophy of science and its implications for community research methodology; team science; and integrating culture into practice and research. His research has been funded by NIH, SAMHSA, ACF, state and municipal agencies, and private foundations. Dr. Tebes also consults to public agencies (federal, state, municipal), community-based organizations, and schools on the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and services, and on the use of data to inform practice, organizational performance, and policy. He teaches or has taught postdoctoral and doctoral fellows in community and clinical psychology and in prevention science on: research methods, models of prevention, human diversity, clinical methods of child intervention, and professional development. He serves as the Program Director of a NIDA T32 postdoctoral research training program in substance abuse prevention, and has served on the leadership team of Yale education/training programs in interdisciplinary team science for faculty and postdoctoral fellows. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Community Psychology.