Youth in Society

Recorded five-minute presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category F: Youth in Society, Projects F-01 through F-19.


F-01: The Effect of Foster Care on Infants

Sara Taylor, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Gary Dick
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Foster care "is a substitute care for babies, children, and youth, placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the state agency has placement and care responsibility" (American SPCC, 2021, n.d.). Research shows "an increasing number of children are placed in foster care due to experiences of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse and/or neglect" (Leve et al., 2012, p. 1). "Approximately 1 million cases of abuse and neglect are substantiated in the United States annually, with approximately one in two of these children referred to live in out-of-home care"(Leve et al., 2012, p. 1). This displacement of a child causes an increased risk for a host of negative outcomes including "emotional, social, and academic challenges for them, and they often experience grief, guilt, anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, mental, and physical health issues" (American SPCC, 2021, n.d.). These facts make it important that children who are placed out of a home are receiving the right services they need to be successful, specifically infants who are placed into foster care during such a vulnerable state of development. Through my data analysis, the results showed that most infants placed in foster care were also involved in services to help with their development and growth. Results also showed that many of these infants experienced mental health issues in their life around the ages of 12-14.


F-02: Evaluating the Implementation of the Ignite By Hatch Early Learning Program

Faith Callahan, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Awarded Excellence in Research Communication

Millions of children enter kindergarten each year, and more than half of them are unprepared for it. These children need an effective intervention program that will catch them up to their fellow classmates and increase their educational success. Many children are not even enrolled in preschool or early intervention programs. These are the problems that will be addressed in this mixed methods research study. Early learning is critical for children because it is the foundation for their brains to process more advanced skills later on in life. Children need an accessible program that will help them succeed academically, no matter what barriers might be in place. This research project evaluated the effectiveness of the virtual early learning program, Ignite By Hatch. This program was designed for preschool-aged children, so it was tested on five local preschools and learning centers. These children are participating in a virtual program that will enhance their academic, cognitive, and social-emotional skills. The research question that is being answered is: Is Ignite by Hatch an effective tool to increase kindergarten readiness skills? Data is being evaluated from the children's Hatch academic scores. Data from survey feedback is also implemented from preschool administrators and parents. After analyzing the data so far, it is concluded that Ignite by Hatch has impacted the children in a positive way, and has increased their kindergarten readiness skills. Limitations of this research include time. Other limitations might include communication barriers between school administrators and parents.


F-03: Quality of Teacher-Child Interaction and Kindergarten Children's Early Writing Skills

Natalie Morman, Speech Language Hearing Sciences
Project Advisor: Dr. Ying Guo
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Awarded Excellence in Research Communication

The purpose of the current study was to examine the extent to which the quality of teacher-child interaction is related to kindergarten children's writing skills. Participants included 17 kindergarten teachers and 102 children in the South and Midwest United States. The quality of teacher-child interactions was assessed using an observational tool, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). The CLASS comprises a total of nine scales designed to measure three global domains of quality: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. CLASS was scored in both the fall and spring of the year from videotapes collected during a classroom observation. Each child completed an identical battery of direct writing assessments in the fall and the spring of kindergarten. Children's handwriting (letter writing), spelling (sound spelling, word spelling), and composition skills (sentence writing) were a central concern in this study and were assessed using researcher-developed tasks and standardized measures. Results showed that the quality of teacher-child interaction was at medium level in emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support domains. The findings from the multilevel models demonstrated that high-quality teacher-child interactions in kindergarten were positively associated with writing skills. These findings highlight the importance of strong emotional, organizational, and instructional supports in kindergarten for writing development.


F-05: The Impact of Trauma-Informed Care on Children

Sydney Sellers, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Gary Dick
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The implementation of Trauma-Informed Care has been minimally researched. There have been few studies evaluating the process and treatment that comes along with Trauma-Informed Care, including how to work with children in trauma. There are agencies and organizations across the country that have been implementing Trauma-Informed Care into practice but very few studies have evaluated the outcomes and if they have improved the outcomes for youth. There has been a growing need for organizations and agencies to deliver Trauma-Informed Care to offer safe treatments, avoid retraumatization, and reduce the effects of trauma. There does seem to be a lack of understanding of what Trauma-Informed Care entails and what type of training agencies and organizations should require, it is not required at a policy level for staff members to be trained. There have been studies done that have defined Trauma-Informed Care and what the pieces of training should entail.


F-06: Rates, Causes, and Effects of Foster Youth Experience Multiple Placements While in Care

Zoe Huesman, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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When a child is under the care of their county and placed in a foster home, it is the county and foster family's responsibility to meet the needs of the child. However, there are high rates of children being moved between foster homes, kinship homes, or residential services while their care team works towards their permanency goal. This creates issues in regards to both the length of their time in care, but their ability to grow and develop normally. Literature on this topic often focuses on either active or inactive cases, but not both. There is also a lack of representation on the statistics of siblings in care. The research study aims to find similar causes and effects that surround the topic of multiple placements of foster youth, as well as finding the rate in which this occurs at the family interventions agency, NewPath. Preliminary data shows consistencies with the literature in which youth are at a high risk of disruption in their first 90 days of care. The study also finds that children also experience high rates of disruptions between 360-950 days in care. However the study finds data inconsistent with the literature  in which children with mental illnesses are more likely to experience a disruption in their placement. Some limitations of the study include lack of demographic information and lack of follow up information of youth who transition to other agencies.


F-07: Providing Training on Intersectional Identities Within Youth Detention Centers

Olivia Riggs , Criminal Justice
Project Advisor: Dr. Nicole McKenna
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As of 2022 African American girls make up only 10.2% of the American population, but yet represent the 33% of young black girls that are detained and committed. Young black girls are o Juvenile detention centers are one of the many stops black girls encounter, which can add on to the more trauma that they already have. The current study asks the following questions: Does your facility provide training on the intersection of identities? Participants for this study include staff, administrators, and treatment providers at youth detention facilities across the United States to understand how detention facilities can address the problem of training staff in trauma-informed care responses and intersectionality (n-35). Preliminary findings are presented and implications for youth, girls, and especially girls of color are discussed.


F-08: School-Based Trauma-Informed Interventions: Do They Show Promise in At-Risk Children's Mental Health and Academic Success?

Mikaela Gregory , Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Children's success as students is a complex matter that requires their mental health needs to be met and appropriately supported throughout the school day. Many students have additional barriers they must face that have been created by trauma or struggling with a mental health diagnosis. These experiences are often not adequately addressed by the American education system putting students at risk to fall behind in a multitude of ways. Previous research has shown that school-based trauma-informed interventions show promise in supporting children with managing their mental health. This provides means of accessible services and can benefit their overall performance as a student. In prior research, limitations are found due to studies usually focusing on populations through a macro lens. It is equally as important to document the unique narratives each individual creates in their journey towards resiliency and success. This study provides direct observations and records that demonstrate prior research findings taking place in real-time. The supporting qualitative data will be comprised of naturalistic observational field journals and clinical notes. The findings reaffirm what is known and present direct evidence that when students' mental health needs are addressed, they can greatly benefit. Over the year students have presented an increase in identifying their emotions and behaviors, utilizing new coping skills, following directions, and engaging in positive interactions with their peers and adults. All of these observations present supporting evidence calling for greater collaboration between mental health services and public schools.


F-09: Family Characteristics of Those Involved With Warren County Children Services

Angela Hunt, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Gary Dick
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The purpose of this research is to provide a descriptive study of the families involved with Warren County Children Services. This is a secondary analysis that looked at the family characteristics of families that are involved with Warren County Children Services with substantiated child maltreatment cases where the children were in the agency's custody as of January 2022. The sample was randomly selected and consisted of families with various characteristics that were looked at including age of caregivers, single/multi caregiver home, strength of support systems, parent employment, race, ages, and number of children, if the parents have CPS history, the intake type/ type of maltreatment, if there is substance use, and the type of placement the child is in.


F-10: Influence of Prosocial Behavior and Program Implementation Methodology

Victoria O'Neal, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Many of the benefits of prosocial activity come from patterns of behavior rather than specific actions. Giving raise the question of how we can encourage the development of prosocial habits. The goal of this study is to discover what factors influence prosocial success among Hillcrest Academy students based on their status rank. Despite the fact that adolescence is recognized as a critical period for prosocial development, little is known about the factors that aid in the development of empathy and prosocial responses in adolescents (Silke, C., Brady, B., Boylan, C., & Dolan, P. 2018). This exploratory and descriptive qualitative study will describe variables that impact students' pro-social success in the program. Participants will be recruited from Hillcrest Academy's Rite of Passage. This program helps young men, aged 12 to 18, who have a history of delinquent conduct, mild mental health concerns, or special education needs gain vital academic, employment, and practical skills that will help them turn their lives around.  Researchers were able to examine students at various status levels to gain a sense of their attitude and the elements that aided or hindered their prosocial progress.


F-11: Understanding Risk Factors Influencing Adolescent Substance Abuse

Arianna Hicks, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Adolescent substance use is a serious public health problem in the United States. Drug use at an early age is an important predictor of substance use disorder later in life and has a significant impact on both physical and mental functioning of adolescents into adulthood. Prior research has shown that some teens are more prone to substance use than others, especially in early adolescence. Yet we still have limited insight into the factors that may influence substance use during these formative years, when risk of initiation is greatest. This qualitative study focuses on gender, race/ ethnicity, familial factors, socioeconomic status,  medical history, and history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and/or other trauma. The research focuses on a sample of youth aged 12-17 years old with involvement in Warren County Child Services. The study utilizes agency records from the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). The aim of my study is to develop an understanding of the factors influence adolescent substance use for youths involved with the child welfare system. The limitations to the study include time constraints, sample size, lack of previous research, and limited access to participants.


F-12: Highlighting Responsible and Healthy Health Behaviors Among Sexually Active African American Adolescents

Naomi Admasu, Public Health
Project Advisor: Dr. Liliana Rojas-Guyler
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Positive health behaviors are associated with protective sexual factors. This study assessed healthy sexual behaviors among high-school females. Risky health behaviors such as alcohol use or lack of birth control during sex were assessed. A secondary data analysis of the 2019 YRBSS data of for a subsample of 832 African American/Black females showed most girls engaged in healthy sexuality behaviors. Specifically, 72% reported earning mostly As and Bs, 67% reported abstaining from alcohol, and 62% reported never having had sex. Of the 317 who reported having had sex, 69% used birth control and only 16% reported using drugs or drinking alcohol during sex. As expected students with higher grades also were less likely to use drugs/alcohol [F(262 ,1) = 23.933, p< .05]. Lower participation in risky behaviors among adolescents should be highlighted in health education. Sexuality education research that focuses on understanding the reasons students do should be conducted.


F-13: In What Ways Do Low-Income African American Teens (Ages 13-15 Years Old) Who Complete the "Making Sense of Your Worth" Intervention, Experience Improved Self-Worth

Nibigira Chantal, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Children who come from difficult and traumatizing backgrounds face many barriers that prevent/limit them in the use of social cues, & problem solving skills that are otherwise considered to be normal. Research has shown that, promoting positive self-worth and teaching secure attachment to children who come from difficult places can increase the ability to recognise social cues and problem solving skills. The MSOYW program is designed for teen girls who constantly desire the freedom that comes with positive self-worth and secure attachment. MSOYW follows a step-by-step process of replacing the lies the world has told us about who we are with the truth of who we really are. This study includes interview answers from the leaders of the program from back2back Cincinnati, my own observations of the group throughout the entire program and a pre-test assessment and a post-test assessment from the participants at the beginning of the program and at the end of the program.


F-14: How Chronic Variable Stress Influences Traumatic Brain Injuries in Adolescence

Macy Urig , Biological Sciences - Biomedical Studies Concentration
Project Advisor: Dr. Nathan Evanson
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Awarded Excellence in Research Communication

Not only does adolescence represent a critical period for development, but also a period of increased vulnerability to stress that is known to further increase in situations of chronic illness. One such chronic condition is traumatic brain injury (TBI), to which adolescents are particularly at risk. We hypothesized that chronic stress potentiates the neurodegenerative effects of TBI in a murine model. Using adolescent, male C57BL/6J mice, we induced a closed-head weight drop TBI, then subjected them to a chronic variable stress (CVS) paradigm (exposure to two daily stressors like cage tilt or wet bedding in an unpredictable pattern) for two weeks. Tissue collection occurred 2-, 5-, 20-, or 28- weeks post injury. We stained tissue with the neurodegeneration stain FlouroJade-B. Regions examined included the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), optic tract (OT), and superior colliculi (SC). We previously found evidence of persistent degeneration in vision-associated brain regions (LGN, OT, SC). However, we have not examined stress regions like the PVN, which serves as the major integrator of brain stress responses. In the PVN there were no significant differences between any of the groups. Degeneration was persistently increased in vision-associated regions up to 20 weeks. In contrast to our hypothesis, CVS had a protective effect when examined at 5 and 20 weeks with degeneration only present in the most severely injured region, the OT, by 28 weeks. Based on these findings, CVS after TBI is not detrimental, and may be protective against chronic brain degenerative injury after TBI.


F-15: Disabled Adolescents Transitioning Into Adulthood

Madison Melcher, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Gary Dick
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This research study looks at the question about the challenges that adolescents with a disability face when transitioning into adulthood. The shift to adulthood is a major life change and with that comes independence such as employment, higher level education, and a move away from their caregiver. The participants of this study will be from ABS Transitions in which they will be interviewed about their experiences in the transition phrase of their life. The interviews will be conducted next year in March of 2022. The results of the interview will be compared and discussed.


F-16: The Effect of Violence on the Cognitive Development of Adolescents

Diedre Luna, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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In social work we see many different types of families with different needs. Child welfare is the field within social work that I am most interested in, so I chose a topic related to the health and safety of children. For my research project, I want to take a look into how violence affects children. To be more specific, I want to see how witnessing and/or being a victim to violence can affect the cognitive development of children. I also want to examine the differences between the relationships these children have compared to children who did not experience violence in their home.           There is an abundance of research that shows how domestic violence can alter the brain chemistry of developing children. I have always found it interesting that these physical acts can alter the psychological development of a child. Even if a child is not a first-hand victim to the violence, they are still affected by it more than it can seem. Children who are involved in violence and unsafe households can have a harder time with their self-esteem, self-image, how they form relationships, and even how they perform academically. Parents and other care givers will often excuse violence in the home by saying that as long as the child is not physically injured, then they are not the victim. We know that this is not true. The purpose of my research study is to see what happens to children who experience violence at a young age.


F-17: Significant Influences on Juvenile Criminal Activity

Elizabeth Rolfes, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells

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There has been an increased amount of juveniles engaging in criminal activity in the past year throughout the United States, more specifically within Cincinnati. Differences in home life, impact of social media, peer influences, and mental health issues can all impact decision making of the juvenile and the increase in incriminating activities among them. Because the background of a juvenile is so highly influential to the current status or decision making of an adolescent, looking further into what are key influences of juvenile offenders is important.  To create a thorough understanding of what influences a juvenile to commit a crime, individual interviews and surveys were used in a qualitative study to better target what officers have personally observed.  A sample of homicide and district officers from the Cincinnati Police Department reflected back on past experiences to better answer questions that targeted previously observed juveniles and their criminal offenses. Results showed that parental influence and the increase in social media usage from juveniles made a big impact on criminal offenses and juvenile being involved in a criminal act. In this study, some limitations included the time, amount of officers used, city of offenders, and officer experience.


F-18: Recidivism in Juvenile Offenders

Eleanor Fidler, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Awarded Excellence in Research Communication

Studies have shown that juveniles are far more likely to re-offend than their adult counterparts. The juvenile crime rate in Hamilton County is high, and the types of crimes being committed by these juveniles might play a role in these high rates. There can be many contributing factors to why a juvenile re-offends, such as if services were put into place or not post adjudication, familial involvement, and possibly the nature of the crime being committed. To determine if there was any correlation between type of crime or offense and recidivism, data was drawn from a database that housed all Hamilton County juvenile offenders. To gather a sample, clients were pulled at random from the social work referral database from the Public Defender's office. This information, pulled from the database, included: race, number of arrests, past and present charges, and what their outcome was post adjudication. These numbers were put into various graphs and later analyzed to describe, if any, correlations present. Of the cases that were pulled, there were repeating patterns between the juvenile's first offense and if they reoffended in the juvenile system.


F-19: How Group Therapy Skills Can Aid in Children's Self-Regulation

Jasmin Soto, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Gary Dick
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The purpose of my project is to analyze different group activity techniques to help students self-regulate in group behavioral groups. My question was to analyze what activities help keep students and kids more engaged. My strategy was to research different group activities and group behavioral activities to understand what group activities performed better and which ones work better for kids that may be experiencing mental health disorders within group behavioral therapy.