Helen Cahalane

  • Principal Investigator, Child Welfare Education and Research Programs, Clinical Associate Professor

Helen Cahalane received her PhD and MSW in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and a BS in social welfare from Shepherd College.

Cahalane is the principal investigator of the Child Welfare Education and Research Programs, which include two federal IV-E professional education components as well as a statewide training program devoted to workforce development, practice improvement, and organizational effectiveness in public child welfare. She is responsible for oversight of the evaluation and research division of the child welfare programs as well as management of the IV-E educational stipend program for public child welfare employees. As a clinical associate professor, Cahalane teaches in the direct practice concentration of Pitt’s MSW program; she is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Pitt’s highest teaching honor.

Cahalane's areas of interest include workforce development in public child welfare, the impact of organizational climate upon employee retention, mental health issues, and the development of evidence-based child welfare practice. She is a licensed clinical social worker, an expert witness for the Pennsylvania Department of Professional and Occupational Affairs, and active on statewide and local advisory boards of child and family organizations.

Cahalane received the 2012 Career Achievement Award from the National Staff Development and Training Association.

Research Interests

  • Child welfare workforce development
  • Evidence-based child welfare practice
  • Family engagement strategies
  • Mental health issues among children in the child welfare system

Representative Publications

  • Fusco, R. A & Cahalane, H. (2013, in press).  Developmental and social-emotional screening in child welfare: Implications for young children in rural settings.  Journal of Public Child Welfare.
  • Cahalane, H., & Fusco, R. (2011). Mobile technology in child welfare: Utility, engagement and professionalism. CW 360°, Spring, 11. University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, School of Social Work, College of Education and Human Development.
  • 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, 1412-1418.
  • Rauktis, M.E., Fusco, R.A., Cahalane, H., Bennett, I.K., & Reinhart, S.M. (2011). “Try to make it seem like we’re regular kids”: Youth perceptions of restrictiveness in out-of-home care. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1224-1233.
  • Rauktis, M.E., Huefner, J., & Cahalane, H. (2011).  Perceptions of fidelity to Family Group Decision Making principles: Examining the impact of race, gender, and relationship. Child Welfare, 90(4), 41-59.
  • Rauktis, M.E., McCarthy, S., Krackhardt, D., & Cahalane, H.G. (2010).  Innovation in child welfare: The adoption and implementation of Family Group Decision Making in Pennsylvania.  Children and Youth Services Review, 32(5), 732-739.
  • Cahalane, H. & Sites, E.W. (2008). The climate of public child welfare employee retention. Child Welfare, 87(1), 91-114.
  • Anderson, C.M., Robins, C., Greeno C.G., Cahalane, H., Carr Copleand, V., & Andrews, M.R. (2006). Why low-income mothers do not engage with the formal mental health care system: Perceived barriers to care. Qualitative Health Research, 16(7), 926-943.


Areas of Expertise