Behavior Analysis in the Child Welfare System: Where we have been, where we can go, and how to get there- Thursday 6/21/18 -am


Presented by: Debbi Napolitano, PhD

Date:  June 21,  2018 Time: 10:00-12:00 pm 

Recording Information: ABACAccess5

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Continuing Education:

  • Behavior Analysts: 2 Type II  CEUs Live or recorded event
  • Psychologists: 2 Continuing Ed hours
  • Nurses, social workers, and counselors: Not eligible for continuing education


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The purpose of the child welfare system is to promote the well-being of children, youth, and young adults by focusing on safety, permanency, and strengthening families (see Child Welfare Information Gateway fact sheet, 2013;  The system is mandated in federal law and implemented at the state level. There are a variety of services that fall within this system including prevention of abuse and neglect, investigation of reports of maltreatment, and placement in out of home care (e.g., extended family, foster family, residential). Residential also sometimes includes diagnostic settings to help identify necessary treatment options (VanBergeijk, McGowan, & Stutz, 2001).   

There are numerous empirical demonstrations of successful interventions in the child welfare system developed by behavior analysts.  These demonstrations include the Teaching Family Model for adjudicated youth (Teaching Family Model; Wolf et al., 1976), prevention of abuse and neglect (e.g., Project 12-Ways; Lutzker & Rice, 1984), and system-wide programming (e.g., Behavior Analysis Service Program; Stoutimore, Williams, Neff, & Foster, 2008).  Despite these successful demonstrations, behavior-analytic services are still not common in the child welfare systems in most states. Because behavior analysts are uniquely qualified to work with some of the primary concerns facing youth and families in this system (e.g., decreasing challenging behavior, increasing adaptive skills), there is a real need to increase the numbers of behavior analysts providing services in this area.  This webinar will provide the participant important historical perspective of the contributions of behavior analysts in child welfare, some information that may help facilitate the use of behavior analysts on child welfare teams (e.g., Thyer, 1999) and describe specific strategies that have been found successful in integrating behavior analysts into services within the child welfare system in New York.



Learning Objectives:

1.  Describe the history of behavior analytic work in child welfare
2.  List the key variables that have increased the potential for successful integration of behavior analysis within a child welfare system
3.   Identify what may be important considerations for behavior analysts working in child welfare systems
4    Identify strategies to work with professionals who use non-behavior analytic terminology and diverse training backgrounds that may appear to conflict with a behavior-analytic philosophy of service  (e.g., trauma informed care)
5.    Be able to identify strategies to develop collaborations with professionals working in child welfare

10:00 am: Introduction
10::05 am: Pretest
10:10 am: Live webinar begins
11:45 am: Q & A session- submit questions via chat function
12:00 pm: Submit attendance codes, take post-test, and fill out confidential evaluation form

Debbi Napolitano received her Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas in 2000. Debbi is currently the Director of Behavior Analytic Services at Hillside Family of Agencies and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Additionally, Debbi teaches and supervises practicum students in the Warner School of Educaiton Program in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Over the course of her career Debbi has developed several areas of expertise, including treating severe challenging behavior in children and young adults, evaluating combined interventions of medication and behavioral interventions, and in working with youth and their teams who are served in the child welfare system. Over the last seven years Debbi has worked both directly with teams serving youth in child welfare as well as having served as a consultant to the NY Office of Children and Family Services.
Debbi conducts applied research in areas of clinical interest such as interventions for rigid and repetitive behavior in autism. Debbi serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities and has published over 20 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Presenter Disclosure Statement:

Dr. Napolitano receives speaker fees for presenting this ABACLive Webinar. Dr. Napolitano has no financial interest in the books mentioned during this event


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