Division of Child and Family Development (DCFD)

Staff and Organization

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Mary Bruce Webb

Division Director

Mary Bruce Webb has been the Director of the Division of Child and Family Development since 2005. Prior to joining ACF, she was a school psychologist for public schools in Connecticut, and then held research positions at Yale University and at Johns Hopkins University. At ACF, she has overseen a diverse array of studies, including the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a longitudinal, nationally representative survey of children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system. She is co-editor for two books that are based on that study: Child Protection: Using Research to Improve Policy and Practice (Brookings Press, 2006) and Child Welfare and Child Well-Being (Oxford Press, 2009). She received a Ph.D. in School Psychology from Fordham University and did her post-doctoral training in children’s mental health services research at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

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Amanda Clincy Coleman

Division Deputy Director

Amanda Coleman is currently completing a 1-year assignment as Deputy Division Director of the Division of Child and Family Development. Amanda joined OPRE in 2012 and served as a Society for Research in Child Development Fellow, Social Science Research Analyst, and Senior Social Science Research Analyst in OPRE before her current appointment. In these roles, she initiated and led projects on early care and education, early childhood home visiting, and child welfare. In particular, she managed a systematic evidence review of early childhood home visiting models; several descriptive studies of Head Start and Early Head Start, including a study on the experiences of Head Start programs during the COVID-19 pandemic; and projects on home-based child care supply and quality and early childhood systems integration. Amanda's work also focuses on research methods and approaches for examining issues related to racial equity in human services. Amanda holds a BA from Howard University and a MA and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Meryl Barofsky

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Head Start, Child Care, American Indian/Alaska Native Early Care and Education

Meryl Barofsky’s work focuses on early care and education, primarily on child care programs and Head Start. To date, her portfolio at OPRE includes: American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start Child and Family Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES), American Indian/Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment Design Project, Assessing the Cost and Implementation of High Quality Early Care and Education (ECE-ICHQ), Child Care and Development Block Grant Implementation Research and Evaluation Grants, Child Care Interstate Background Check Project (CC-IBaCs), Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study, ACF’s National Research Conference on Early Childhood, Tribal Early Childhood Research Center, and coordination of the Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers (NITR). Meryl’s own research interests include: child care subsidies and family well-being, measurement and advanced statistical methods, and early risk and protective factors for children and families. Dr. Barofsky holds a BA in Psychology from Connecticut College, and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Alysia Blandon

Social Science Research Analyst
Child Care, Head Start, and Child Welfare

Alysia Blandon’s work at OPRE focuses on child welfare and early care and education. To date, her portfolio at OPRE includes: Judicial Decision-Making and Hearing Quality in Child Welfare, Understanding Postadoption and Guardianship Instability for Children and Youth Who Exit Foster Care, Supporting Evidence Building in Child Welfare, Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), Child Care and Development Block Grant Implementation Research and Evaluation Grants, Center for Supporting Research on Child Care and Development Block Grant Implementation, Consumer Education and Parental Choice in Early Care and Education, and Understanding Poverty: Childhood and Family Experiences and TANF Office Culture. Prior to joining OPRE, she was an Assistant Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research focused on parenting, coparenting, and young children’s social and emotional development. Dr. Blandon holds a BA in Psychology from Colorado College and PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan.

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Sarah Blankenship

Child Care Program Specialist
Child Care, Head Start/Early Head Start, Child Welfare

Sarah Blankenship’s work at OPRE focuses on early care and education and child welfare. Sarah is particularly interested in the roles of early childhood systems and policies, parenting and parent supports, and individualized service provision in supporting children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development. Some of her current work includes: Child Care Interstate Background Checks, Head Start Connects, studies of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, Judicial Decision-Making and Hearing Quality in Child Welfare, the Child Care Policy Research Partnerships grant program, and the Network of infant/toddler Researchers (NitR). Sarah began her work at OPRE as a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Policy Fellow. Prior to joining OPRE, she studied the effects of parenting and maternal depression on children’s brain development and completed a Mirzayan Fellowship at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Sarah holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Wendy DeCourcey

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, National Research Conference on Early Childhood

Wendy DeCourcey works primarily on research involving early childhood care and education programs. She provides guidance regarding grants’ announcements, competition and monitoring. Her recent projects focus on professional development, coaching, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start. In addition, Wendy leads the development of ACF’s National Research Conference on Early Childhood. Prior to joining OPRE, Dr. DeCourcey worked as an early intervention teacher in Portland, Oregon. Her degree is a Ph.D. from Clark University.

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Kathleen Dwyer

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Child Care, Head Start and Early Head Start, Child Welfare, Early Adversity, Two-Generation and Whole Family Approaches, Service Coordination

Kathleen Dwyer is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst in ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE). Her research interests include attachment, parenting, parent-child relationships, and children’s social and emotional development. At ACF, a primary focus of her work is understanding approaches to building adult capacities to promote child development, particularly in the context of early adversity. She oversees projects in the areas of child care, Head Start and Early Head Start, family assistance, and child welfare. She also provides leadership regarding OPRE’s research and evaluation projects that address coordinated approaches to supporting children, parents, and families. Dr. Dwyer originally began her work at OPRE as a Society for Research in Child Development Executive Branch Policy Fellow. She has a Ph.D. in Human Development with a specialization in Developmental Sciences from the University of Maryland.

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Christine Fortunato

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Team Leader for Child Welfare Research
Child and Family Well-being, Child Welfare, Prevention Science, Systematic Evidence Reviews, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, Data Archiving

Christine Fortunato is the team leader for child welfare research in OPRE. Dr. Fortunato develops and coordinates research activities related to child welfare and other programs serving low-income children and their families. She oversees a diverse array of projects, including the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, Feasibility of Linking Administrative Data to Better Understand Child Maltreatment Incidence, and the Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. She is particularly interested in using research and data to aid key stakeholders in making more informed decisions about implementing feasible and effective interventions. Dr. Fortunato originally began her work at OPRE as a Society for Research in Child Development Executive Branch Policy Fellow. She holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University.

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Laura Hoard

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Head Start, Child and Family Well-Being, Health

Laura Hoard is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst whose work mainly focuses on the mental and physical health of children, families, and how programs and systems can support health. Currently she leads the multisite evaluation of SAMHSA’s Project LAUNCH (Linking Action for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) grant program, the creation of the Family-Provider Relationship Quality measures, and the survey of Head Start Health Managers. She was a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Executive Branch Fellow in OPRE. Previously she worked at REDA International conducting research on the state implementation of No Child Left Behind teacher qualification standards. Dr. Hoard holds an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Ph.D. in Family Studies, both from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her interests include mental and physical health of children, families, and communities; parenting; supports for and improvement of early childhood teachers; program design, implementation, evaluation, and the use of data for quality improvements; resilience; and population level evaluation.

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Bonnie B. Mackintosh

Social Science Research Analyst
Child Care and Head Start

Bonnie Mackintosh is a Social Science Research Analyst in the Division of Child and Family Development at OPRE. Her work focuses on early care and education, primarily in the Child Care and Head Start portfolios. She has a particular interest in social-emotional and early math concept development as well as measurement methods. Prior to joining OPRE, she was the Director of Policy, Planning and Research for the Division of Early Learning at the District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Mackintosh holds both a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a master’s degree in Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood from the University of Maryland as well as a master’s degree in Education Policy and Management and a doctorate in Human Development and Education from Harvard University.

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Amy Madigan

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Team Leader for Head Start Research
Early Head Start, Head Start

Amy Madigan is the team leader for Head Start research in OPRE where she provides leadership for research and policy activities related to Head Start, Early Head Start and other programs serving low income children and their families. Her research interests focus on quality improvement of early childhood programs, particularly as it relates to curriculum, assessment, and professional development. She is also interested in using research and data to drive quality improvement at both national and local levels. Before joining OPRE, Dr. Madigan was a policy and research analyst with HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Policy Fellow in ACF’s Office of Head Start. She holds a doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from George Mason University.

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Jenessa Malin

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Head Start/Early Head Start, Child Care, Child Welfare, Infants and Toddlers, Statistical Methods

Jenessa Malin is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst in OPRE. Her portfolio includes research and evaluation projects related to child welfare and early care and education programs. She is particularly interested in the application of innovative methods and study designs to examine policy relevant research questions. Dr. Malin began her work at OPRE as a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Executive Branch Policy Fellow. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Duke University. She also holds an M.A. in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation and a Ph.D. in Human Development, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Ivelisse Martinez-Beck

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Team Leader for Child Care Research

Ivelisse Martinez-Beck is the Child Care Research Team Leader at OPRE. Ms. Martinez-Beck held a Society for Research in Child Development Executive Branch Policy Fellowship with the Child Care Bureau, (currently Office of Child Care) in ACF. Previously she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Albion College, MI, where she focused her teaching and research on language and cognitive development of young children from birth through 5-years. At OPRE, she focuses on early care and education (ECE), particularly on the quality of child care and early education programs, research on Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), professional development of the early childhood workforce, and access to high quality ECE by low-income families and children.

Ms. Martinez-Beck received a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Puerto Rico and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Linguistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Mary Mueggenborg

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Human Trafficking, Child Welfare, Youth Homelessness, Head Start

Mary Mueggenborg leads OPRE’s portfolio of research related to human trafficking. In addition, she manages a diverse portfolio of work related to child welfare, youth homelessness, and Head Start. She also has an interest in research on how neighborhood and community characteristics influence child and family well-being. Prior to joining OPRE, she was a Research Coordinator at the Child & Adolescent Services Research Center, where she managed research projects related to maternal depression, child welfare, and early intervention programs for children with special needs. Ms. Mueggenborg holds a Master of Social Work degree and a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

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Nina Philipsen

Social Science Research Analyst
Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Care

Nina Philipsen's work focuses on Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care programs. She is interested in quality improvement in early care and education and how early childhood experiences influence longitudinal development. She is also interested in applying research and data to inform quality improvement and effective policy and practice. Prior to her current position, she was a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Policy Fellow, a research consultant with the New York City Department of Education on the development of the First Step NYC Leadership Institute, and a graduate fellow at the National Center for Children and Families. Dr. Philipsen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, an MS in Child Development from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University.

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Ann Rivera

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Dual Language Learners, Head Start, Child Care

Ann Rivera began her federal career as a Society for Research in Child Development Executive Branch Policy Fellow at OPRE. Ann’s portfolio focuses broadly on increasing access to high-quality early care and education and improving human services for low-income and vulnerable children and families. To date, Ann’s portfolio at ACF includes: Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium, Child Care Research Scholars, Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-System Evaluation Project, National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, and Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care. In addition, Ann works on a variety of internal projects intended to communicate and bridge research to practice more effectively and to promote cultural and linguistic responsiveness in ACF services. While completing her doctoral training, Ann provided research support to community agencies in New York City, using survey, quasi-experimental, ethnographic, and participatory research methods. Ann received a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from New York University.