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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.


  • 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, 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).

  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    Danielle Chiaramonte, Ph.D., is a T32 postdoctoral research fellow in the Consultation Center's Division of Prevention and Community Research. Dr. Chiaramonte currently works with the Family Violence Research Program in the Sullivan Lab and supports YaleEval with the 2020 Connecticut LGBTQ Community Survey. 

    Dr. Chiaramonte's program of research promotes health equity for sexual and gender minorities through organizational and system-level change. As a community psychologist, Dr. Chiaramonte works from an ecological perspective and conduct research in collaboration with community organizations and/or the communities they serve. Two lines of research guide her work. The first lies at the intersection of HIV and gender-based violence (GBV), focusing on multisystemic responses to HIV and GBV among sexual and gender minorities. Her second line of work focuses on research methods and approaches that utilize existing community resources and elevate the voices of sexual and gender minority youth.

  • 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 program of research focuses on improving the quality of mental health promotion, prevention and intervention services for underserved children, adolescents and their families in critical access points such as schools, community-based clinics and primary care settings. Dr. Connors is currently 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 such as 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.

  • Professor of Psychiatry; 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 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) 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.”

  • Director, Health Evaluation Initiatives; YaleEVAL Senior Consultant, The Consultation Center at Yale

    Amy Griffin is the Director of Health Evaluation Initiatives at The Consultation Center. 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 also a member of the CTDPH Advisory Panel for evaluation implementation for their Diabetes Prevention Program.

  • Research Assistant HSS 1

    Ana Hernandez. B.S.  is a Research Assistant in the Family Violence Research Program in the Sullivan Lab, wherein Ana researches intimate partner violence (IPV), firearm exposure, post-traumatic stress, substance use, and HIV/sexual risk. Ms. Hernandez’s research interests center on trauma and posttraumatic stress responses. More specifically, she is interested in the retrieval of traumatic memories of bilingual and/or multilingual speakers and its effect on memory details. Throughout her research career, Ms. Hernandez has developed expertise in survey programming, trauma-informed interviewing practices, and cultural adaptation and translation of research materials.

    Ms. Hernandez holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut where she completed training in the Research Assistant Program through the Office of Undergraduate Research. Throughout her baccalaureate training, she worked in the Dr. Meyer’s Language and Brain Lab researching neurobiology and the influence of talker idiolect on phonetic adaptation. Additionally, Ms. Hernandez has experience researching health risk factors for cardiovascular disease from her work with Dr. Bruce Blanchard in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. 

  • 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.

  • Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology); Director of Evaluation and Community Impact

    Dr. Samantha Matlin, a clinical/community psychologist, is the Director of Evaluation and Community Impact at the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale University School of Medicine and an evaluation consultant at The Consultation Center. In her role, she provides training and consultation to build evaluation capacity in community-based organizations and city and state agencies. She is currently working with the Pottstown School District in their trauma-informed community initiative. She is the former Special Advisor to the Commissioner at the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services where she contributed to the formulation of high priority programmatic initiatives and policy across the behavioral health system. She is committed to learning how contextual factors (such as neighborhood support, violence, trauma, and poverty) contribute to health and the interventions we can do to improve the health status of communities.