Working to transform the child welfare system.


Susan Barkan promoted to Research Director at Partners for Our Children

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Susan Barkan recently was promoted to Research Director at Partners for Our Children (P4C).  In her new role Dr. Barkan will advance Partners for Our Children’s research agenda and provide leadership for research activities. She also will support faculty and staff in identifying and securing funding for new and existing projects. Her goal is to align Partners for Our Children’s research agenda with our strategic goals and the overall Grand Challenges for Social Work.

Susan began working at Partners for Our Children a few months after we started in 2007.  She is the Principal Investigator of Strive, a parent education and support program that engages and supports parent visitation when their children have been placed in out-of-home care. Susan and her team are very busy with Strive, including developing process and outcomes-based evidence, implementing Strive in Region One in Washington state, and expanding and adapting the program for specific regions and populations, including with the Cowlitz Tribe, San Francisco County and New South Wales, Australia.

Dr. Barkan also works closely with the Social Development Research Group (SDRG) at UW, developing and testing prevention-focused interventions adapted for child welfare.  At SDRG, Susan works on “Connecting,” an intervention that aims to provide caregivers with tools so they can connect well with their foster children and approach issues that concern teens, including issues about sexuality and gender identity. Recently the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence created an e-learning training adapted from the LGBTQ Connecting module, and Susan and her team are currently talking about how to disseminate it to other jurisdictions. 

Susan holds an interdisciplinary B.A. in psychology and biology from Antioch College, a PhD in Epidemiology from Yale and she completed a National Institute of Mental Health-funded postdoctoral fellowship in Family Violence at The Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.   Her career has focused on the social determinants of health; how inequities related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual and gender identity can impact well-being and health, and efforts to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable children and families. Prior to her time at Partners for Our Children, Susan directed a number of research studies. She holds affiliate faculty appointments within UW’s Schools of Public Health and Social Work.

We are thrilled and delighted to have Susan in this new role, a tribute to her contributions and hard work.  Further, P4C is excited to advance our research agenda with her leadership and support. Congratulations, Susan!