Rachel Fusco Chair, Direct Practice Concentration, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Clinical & Translational Science Institute



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Associate Professor Rachel Fusco,Chair of the Direct Practice Concentration, earned a PhD in social welfare from the University of Pennsylvania and an MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Fusco’s research focuses on the mental health of children in the child welfare system, including the effects of co-occurring child maltreatment and exposure to intimate partner violence, and the experiences of biracial children. She is particularly interested in early childhood and the long-term impact of maltreatment and other risks during this developmental stage.

Prior to receiving her PhD, Dr. Fusco was a social worker in the child welfare system and in mental health services.

Research Interests

  • Impact of involvement with the child welfare system on young children.
  • Neurodevelopmental effects of early childhood abuse and neglect.
  • Antecedents and consequences of early childhood trauma.
  • Experiences of biracial children and their families.

Selected Funded Grants

Sleep in Youth who have aged out of Foster Care: Impact on Mental Health (2016-2018) Research funded by the University of Pittsburgh Central Research Development Fund
Principal Investigator

Competitive funding received to collect objective and subjective measures of sleep in youth aging out of foster care. Project will also explore whether sleep quality and quantity mediates health and mental health outcomes in these youth.

Developing Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Gender and Violence Research (2015-2016)
Funded by the Vice Provost’s Office of Research at the University of Pittsburgh
Co-Principal Investigator (with Sara A. Goodkind)

Competitive funding received to build interdisciplinary research collaborations on gender and violence across the university by developing a speaker series and a working conference with national and local contributor.

Evaluation of the Implementation of Developmental and Mental Health Screening in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare Services (2009-2013)
Research funded by the Office of Children, Youth, and Families, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Principal Investigator

Evaluated a statewide screening for developmental and socio-emotional problems among all children from birth to 5 years old in the child welfare system.

An Evaluation of an Innovative Program for Youth with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems Aging out of Foster Care (2009-2012)
Research funded by the Venango County Children and Youth Services, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
-Principal Investigator (with Mary E. Rauktis)
Collaborated with a rural county to evaluate a program developed for aging-out youth with a history of involvement with multiple social service agencies.

Family Group Decision Making: How Does Race Influence Referrals, Satisfaction, and Outcomes in a National Sample? (2007-2009)
Research funded by the Center for Race and Social Problems, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh 
-Principal Investigator (with Julie S. McCrae)
Analyzed data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being to examine how race influenced child welfare-involved families’ referrals to and satisfaction with Family Group Decision Making.

Does the Assistance of a Child Welfare Advocate Help Battered Women with an Open Child Maltreatment Investigation Negotiate Family Service Planning?  (2007-2008)
Research funded by the School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh 
Principal Investigator

Conducted in-depth interviews with child welfare caseworkers to ask about their experiences working with families experiencing co-occurring child maltreatment and intimate partner violence.

Selected Publications

Rauktis, M.E., Fusco, R.A., Goodkind, S.A., & Bradley-King, C. (in press). “After I had children I noticed I was treated differently”: White mothers’ experiences of parenting Black/White biracial children. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work.

Fusco, R.A. (in press). Socioemotional problems in children exposed to intimate partner violence: Mediating effects of family and social supports. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Fusco, R.A., Newhill, C., & Jung, N. (2016). Does maternal mental health mediate the relationship between maternal victimization and child trauma? Children and Youth Services Review, 67, 247-253.

Kim, Y.J & Fusco, R.A. (2015). Does sense of control impact depression in post-discharged psychiatric patients? Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 203, 850-855.

Fusco, R.A. (2015). Second generation mothers in child welfare: Factors that predict service engagement. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 32, 545-554.

Kolivoski, K.M., Shook, J.J., Johnson, H.C., Goodkind, S.A., Fusco, R.A., & Delisi, M. (in press). Applying legal socialization to the child welfare system: Do youths’ perceptions of caseworkers matter? Child and Youth Care Forum.

Fusco, R.A., & Cahalane, H. (2015). Socioemotional problems among young children in out-of-home care: A comparison of kinship and foster care placements. Journal of Family Social Work, 18, 183-201.

Fusco, R.A., & Cahalane, H. (2014). Young children in the child welfare system: Which factors contribute to trauma symptomology? Child Welfare, 92(5), 37-47.

Fusco, R.A. (2013). “It’s hard enough to deal with all the abuse issues”: Child welfare workers’ experiences with intimate partner violence on their caseloads. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 1946-1953.

Perry, M.A., Sekino, Y., & Fusco, R.A. (2013). Parent voices: Head Start assessment validation procedures with partner parents. National Head Start Association Dialog.

Weaver, A., Greeno, C., Marcus, S., Fusco, R.A., Zimmerman, T., & Anderson, C. (2013). Effects of Structural Family Therapy on child and maternal mental health symptomatology. Research on Social Work Practice, 23, 294-303.

Fusco, R.A. & Cahalane, H.G. (2013). Developmental and social-emotional screening in child welfare: Implications for young children in rural settings. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7, 154-171.

Uffner, B.C., Rauktis, M.E., & Fusco, R.A.  (2012). A time of transition: The impact of rural youth services on education, housing, and employment. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work.

Fusco, R.A., & Rauktis, M.E. (2012). Transracial mothering and maltreatment risk: Are mothers of biracial children different? Child Welfare, 91, 55-77.

Rauktis, M.E., Fusco, R.A., & Cahalane, H. (2011). “Try to make it seem like we’re regular kids”:  Young adult perspectives on out-of-home care restrictions. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(7), 1224-1233.

McCrae, J.S., Cahalane, H., & Fusco, R.A. (2011). Directions for developmental screening in child welfare based on the Ages and Stages Questionnaires. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(8), 1412-1418.

Fusco, R.A. (2010). Intimate partner violence in interracial couples: A comparison to White and ethnic minority monoracial couples. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 1785-1800.

Fusco, R.A., Rauktis, M.E., McCrae, J.S., Cunningham, M.A, & Bradley-King, C.R. (2010). Aren’t they just Black kids? Biracial children in the child welfare system. Child & Family Social Work, 15, 389-504.

McCrae, J.S., & Fusco, R.A. (2010). A racial comparison of families involved in Family Group Decision Making across the U.S. Child & Family Social Work, 15, 41-55.

Fusco, R.A., & Fantuzzo, J.W. (2009). Children’s exposure to and involvement in domestic violence crimes: Results from a suburban population. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(2), 249-256.

Fantuzzo, J.W., & Fusco, R.A. (2007). Children’s direct exposure to types of domestic violence crimes: A population-based investigation. Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 543-552.

Fantuzzo, J.W., & Fusco, R.A. (2007). Children's direct sensory exposure to substantiated domestic violence crimes. Violence & Victims, 22, 158-171.

Fantuzzo, J.W., Fusco, R.A., Mohr, W. M., & Perry, M.A. (2007). Domestic violence and children’s presence: A population-based study of law enforcement surveillance of domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22(6), 331-340.