Claudette Grinnell-Davis, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Grace Abbott School of Social Work

Prior to pursuing her doctorate in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan, Claudette Grinnell-Davis spent time as a reunification specialist, providing therapeutic intervention to families re-establishing their relationships following long-term foster care. During this work, she discovered that parents were largely unprepared for reunification and that, in many cases, parents did not receive the services they needed most while separated from their children. Her dissertation, utilizing latent profile analysis, focused on understanding the endogeneity between risk factors for child welfare system involvement and how those profiles of risk affected child well-being.

While parent involvement in the child welfare system continues to be a primary focus, Grinnell-Davis has also extended her interests into teen pregnancy and parenting, especially for those youth for whom pregnancy is a desired outcome and for those youth who were in foster care at the point of conception. Initial research indicates these young people are more likely to have parenting attitudes and practices that could put their children at more risk of child welfare system involvement; this research would be used to discern whether these young people are in need of different prevention services, both to prevent pregnancy and to prevent subsequent re-entry into the child welfare system as a perpetrator rather than a victim.

Since arriving in Nebraska in 2014, Grinnell-Davis has also become interested in systems of care and service delivery for rural families. Noting the significant shortage of social workers in rural Nebraska, she has begun studying rural child welfare nationally as well as in Nebraska, and is interested in exploring how other social institutions, particularly schools, can be used as agents of prevention for both child welfare and children’s mental health needs.