By Marsha Basloe, Senior Advisor, Early Childhood Development
Some people touch our lives and have the ability to leave a lasting mark. Staci Perlman was one of those people.
I had not known Staci for a long time, although I knew of her long before I met her from her research on young children who experience homelessness. We were introduced as two people interested in how early childhood programs could buffer the effects of homelessness. (Thank you, Grace!) After we met, we talked for hours – via email, reviewing documents, planning for “Yay Babies” and more.
Staci was a close ally on the development and dissemination of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters. She even submitted a grant proposal to support technical assistance to build strong partnerships between early childhood programs and homeless shelters using the tool. We were all pretty excited!
Dr. Staci Perlman was an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies with a joint appointment in the Delaware Education Research and Development Center at the University of Delaware and a 2014 Visiting Scholar at the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) in Philadelphia. Her work focused on using partnership-based research to promote the development and well-being of vulnerable children, youth, and families. Most recently, her work focused on homelessness in very early childhood - with an emphasis on understanding how homeless experiences influence early development and the identification of strategies that promote positive developmental outcomes.
Staci also served as the co-chair of the American Psychological Association (APA) Taskforce on Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness and was the 2011 recipient of the Child Maltreatment Section of the APA’s Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in the Field of Child Maltreatment.
Staci’s dad Earl and many friends posted pictures on Facebook of Staci laughing. There is a special picture of Staci laughing with Joe Willard, vice president of policy at the People's Emergency Center with a huge “Yay Babies” sign in the background! I don’t have personal pictures to post, but I know that laugh. And her smile. And her passion for her research. And most importantly, the children and the families behind the research.
It is always tragic when a young person dies suddenly. I know her family and friends will mourn – we will all mourn in our own way. We also mourn for the loss of a special researcher whose passion pushed us all.
We can remember Staci best by continuing the work she loved so much. We will continue the fight against homelessness and our quest to find the best ways to support young children and their families experiencing homelessness. Thank you Staci for touching our lives and making a difference in the lives of so many.