Foster Care Research Lab

The Foster Care Research Lab is led by Dr. Amy Salazar. The projects in this lab focus on better understanding the circumstances of, and supporting positive outcomes of, youth who are experiencing, have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing foster care or child welfare system involvement. A large portion of this work involves developing, adapting, and testing interventions with the aim of increasing the number of evidence-based programs available for improving the outcomes of youth with foster care experience.

Current and recent research projects include:

Fostering Higher Education: Fostering Higher Education (FHE) is a postsecondary access and retention intervention for youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood. The first phase of this study was a two-year NIDA-funded R21 development project focused on designing FHE and testing its youth usability and practitioner feasibility. The FHE intervention contains elements of professional educational advocacy, substance abuse prevention, and mentoring. Future study phases will involve optimizing the intervention design and testing the efficacy of FHE in a randomized controlled trial.

RCT of Connecting foster parenting program and development of module for parenting LGBTQ youth in care: Connecting is an adaptation of the Staying Connected with Your Teen family-based substance use prevention program for use with foster families. Connecting is currently being tested in a randomized controlled trial at the University of Washington. In addition to being an investigator for the trial, Dr. Salazar is also developing and testing the usability of a curriculum module for improving the relationships between foster parents and their LGBTQ wards to add to the Connecting curriculum.

Oregon Keeping Families Together: This study is an evaluation of an adaptation of the Communities That Care evidence-based community mobilization model to address community-level prevention of child maltreatment and child welfare system involvement and enhancement of child well-being in three Oregon communities.

Some potential opportunities for students include:

  • Data analysis
  • Working on scholarly publications
  • Presenting at research and practice conferences