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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.


  • Postdoctoral Associate; Researcher, Office for Women in Medicine and Science

    Ishita Sunita Arora, Ph.D., (she/her/hers) is a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Arora has a joint appointment with the Office for Women in Medicine and Science (OWiMS) within the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Prevention and Community Research (DPCR). At OWiMS, she conducts prevention research, implementation, and evaluation of the programs aiming at increasing gender equity and academic career development of all women within Yale School of Medicine. At DPCR, her research focuses on two core areas - prevention and intervention of gender-based violence, and the promotion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.  Dr. Arora is a clinical and community psychologist who has worked with underserved and marginalized populations in the resource-limited settings of India and the United States. Dr. Arora has extensive experience in the evaluation of preventive interventions in institutes of higher education, and in research aimed at identifying key risk and protective factors predictive of intimate partner violence, mental health services accessibility and utilization, and other behavioral outcomes.  Dr. Arora completed her predoctoral fellowship at Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry - The Consultation Center (TCC) and Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC). During this time, she 1) worked with the department of Psychiatry’s Anti-Racism TaskForce; 2) worked towards building a supplement to New Haven’s police crisis response system for people living with mental health concerns, substance use, and unhoused populations; 3) helped conduct a consumer-based participatory research project in collaboration with consumer researchers of CMHC to assess consumers' mental health needs during COVID-19. Dr. Arora earned her Ph.D. in Clinical and Community Psychology from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Liberal Studies and Leadership from Ashoka University, India. In India, she has worked as a therapist for street kids and unhoused families for the not-for-profit organization Salaam Baalak Trust. Dr. Arora’s work is guided by anti-racist, anti-casteist, anti-oppressive, and decolonial praxis.
  • Research Assistant 1 HSS

    Diana Belliveau. B.A. is a Research Assistant at the Family Violence Research Program in the Sullivan Lab.  Since joining the lab in 2019, Diana has provided support to three projects focused on intimate partner violence (IPV) among women.  Specifically, Ms. Belliveau supports research of individual and structural factors associated with firearm exposure among women who have experienced IPV; how exposure to IPV affects women’s ability engage in care for HIV; and how to build a community-based domestic violence support group that can better assist survivors. Prior to working in the Sullivan Lab, Ms. Belliveau earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychological Science from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).  As an undergraduate, Ms. Belliveau presented her undergraduate research, Antisocial Behavior Subtypes: Trauma, Parenting Style, and Psychopathy in a Non-Clinical Sample at the national Eastern Psychological Association Conference in March 2019. She was also a peer tutor for Research Methods in Psychology at CCSU. Since she began working with trauma survivors during her undergraduate internship at the New Britain Superior Court, in the Family Violence Victim Advocates’ office, she has developed several research interests, which include understanding the effects of past trauma on psychological adjustment, the development/trajectory of mental illness, and trauma survivors’ use of maladaptive coping strategies (e.g., substance use).
  • Research Assistant 2, HSS

    Grace Cannon, MA, is a research assistant in the Sullivan Lab for Family Violence Research studying relationship conflict and women's health through a combination of systems-level and micro-longitudinal approaches. She is experienced in assessment design, data management, and experimental research methods. At the University of Texas, she conducted studies implementing and evaluating literacy interventions with struggling readers in elementary grades, including behavioral support for special education settings. Her interest is in promoting community well-being through impactful research in public health and education.
  • Research Associate 2, HSS

    Ashley Clayton, MA, is a Research Associate at the Family Violence Research Program in the Sullivan Lab. Trained in community psychology, Ashley has developed and evaluated various community-based mental health interventions. Ashley ventured into the field of community psychology through a determination to use her first-hand experience with mental illness for good and her dedication to social justice. Ashley has extensive training in qualitative and quantitative research, with particular expertise in community-based participatory research, questionnaire development, and stigma. She is a mental health activist and has published numerous research papers on the social inclusion of individuals living with severe mental illness, maternal mental health, recovery-oriented and person-centered care, and healthcare narratives and essays. She is the Visual Arts Editor of The Perch, an Arts & Literary Journal published by Yale’s Program for Recovery & Community Health (PRCH).
  • Associate Professor Adjunct, Psychiatry

    Christian M. Connell, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Adjunct). 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.
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

    Dr. Connors received her Ph.D. in Clinical Child and Community Psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) and in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Her work focuses on improving the quality of mental health promotion, prevention and intervention services for underserved and minochildren, adolescents and their families in critical access points such as schools, community clinics and primary care settings. Dr. Connors is conducting research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to select and test implementation strategies to increase the use of measurement-based care among school mental health clinicians based on participatory research methods and principles of implementation science. Her projects also focus on effective, strategic implementation of other evidence-based approaches in schools to promote student social and emotional wellbeing and resilience to adversity, stress and trauma. Dr. Connors has expertise with specific implementation strategies including learning collaboratives, effective training/technical assistance and ongoing consultation for clinicians, organizations and state agency leaders within education, health and mental health sectors. Dr. Connors is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where she collaborates with the National Center for School Mental Health to advance research, practice, policy and training about comprehensive school mental health system quality and sustainability nationwide.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    Maria Christina Crouch (Deg Hit'an and Coahuiltecan Tribes), PhD, is a clinical-community psychologist and a postdoctoral research fellow at Yale School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. Her clinical work and program of research is focused on the intersection of trauma-informed care, evidence-based practices, and practice-based evidence (Indigenous approaches) to address alcohol and drug issues, trauma, and related health impacts of social determinants among American Indian and Alaska Native communities from a cultural, strengths-based approach.
  • Professor of Psychiatry; Associate Dean for Gender Equity, Yale School of Medicine; Director, Office for Women in Medicine and Science, Yale School of Medicine; Deputy Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Psychiatry; Director, Program Evaluation and Child Trauma Research at The Consultation Center

    Cindy A. Crusto, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section), Yale University School of Medicine, is Associate Dean for Gender Equity and Director of the Office for Women in Medicine and Science and the Director of Program Evaluation and Child Trauma Research 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), Child Study Center and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine. He 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. His funding portfolio includes NIH, foundation, HHS, local government, and community-based programs. 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.”
  • Associate Director 4; YaleEVAL Director, Strategy and Operations, The Consultation Center at Yale; Director, Health Evaluation Initiatives, The Consultation Center

    Amy Griffin is the Director of Health Evaluation Initiatives at The Consultation Center and the Director of Strategy and Operations for YaleEVAL. Ms. Griffin holds a master’s degree in Communications and has advanced training in Family and Child Ecology and nonprofit management.Ms. Griffin brings more than 20 years of experience providing consultation on the development and implementation of program evaluations to nonprofit agencies, coalitions, foundations, and local and state departments. She trains nonprofit and state-level organizations in evaluation principles, techniques, and design, and frequents as an invited guest speaker at universities on evaluation, consultation, and group facilitation. Most recently, Ms. Griffin was selected by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CTDPH) to provide specialized training to health practitioners in the state through a grant opportunity from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. She is also a member of the CTDPH Advisory Panel for evaluation implementation for their Diabetes Prevention Program.
  • Postgraduate Associate

    Frances is a psychology fellow completing her internship with the Yale School of Medicine and Connecticut Mental Health Center at The Consultation Center. She is currently a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology with a community psychology emphasis at Bowling Green State University and a registered board-certified art therapist. Frances’ research and clinical-community interventions focus on increasing health equity for people in recovery with intersecting marginalized identities. Frances is thrilled to be joining the Yale community and The Consultation Center to take part in community-engaged research in the greater New Haven area. She is also excited to continue providing clinical services for adults with serious mental illness through Adult Community Mental Health Services at the Connecticut Mental Health Center.
  • Research Associate 2 HSS

    Ms. Henry received her Bachelor's in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University in 2012 and her Master's in Social Work from the University of Connecticut in 2019. She has an interest in social justice, advocacy, criminal justice reform, research and social policy. Her research experience began in her Psychology courses and continued on throughout her time at the School of Social Work as she worked as a Research Assistant to the BSW Program Director, was awarded funds for a research project conducted on a travel study to Puerto Rico, and worked as a Research and Assessment Specialist to Florida State University's Institute for Justice Research and Development. She has contributed to two pending publications on environmental disaster's and their impact on domestic violence in Puerto Rico and microaggressions during a travel study experience.