Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families Policy

The PhD concentration in Children, Youth and Families policy (CYF) prepares students for challenging careers developing policy and conducting research and evaluation studies that help to maximize the potential of young people.

Focus of the Concentration

Changes in the structure and function of households and in the dynamics of neighborhoods, schools and the workforce are just a few of the issues facing families today. In order to influence policies in this area, professionals must understand the fundamentals of human development, the dramatic social, political and economic changes affecting family and community life, and new directions in system and program design. This requires knowledge of relevant theory and practice in the areas of social services, welfare, health, and education.

The CYF concentration addresses the broad spectrum of American policies that affect human development and adaptation. The goal of the concentration is to prepare students for careers in university teaching and research, government agencies, and other research and service settings where they will frame new questions and bring their knowledge and skills to bear on social programs and policies related to human development and family functioning. The CYF concentration helps students achieve their goals through mentoring and advising, formal courses, colloquia, research responsibilities, and interaction with faculty.

Training Fellowship

Support for this concentration is available through the Lurie Doctoral Fellowship.

Students in this concentration are advised by faculty and work on research projects directed by the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, the Center for Youth and Communities, the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy and their affiliated centers.

  • The Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy focuses on children and adolescents in the child welfare system, children with physical and intellectual disabilities, immigrant children, teenage parents and other population groups that may need effective social programs in order to reach their maximum productivity. The Institute's interdisciplinary focus combines the disciplines of psychology, public health, social policy and social work.
  • The Center for Youth and Communities works in partnership with government, foundations, nonprofit organizations and private businesses to develop education and service initiatives for youth across the U.S. and has shaped policy and practice during six White House administrations.
  • Researchers at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy study disability policy in the United States - with a special emphasis on persons with autism and other disabilities across the lifespan - in order to improve lives through innovative social policies that foster inclusion in mainstream society. 

Required Concentration Courses

Sample Dissertations

  • Matthew Brookner, 2021. “Can Philanthropic Values and Behaviors Be Learned? An Investigation of Youth Philanthropy Education.”
  • Robert Dembo, 2021. “Social Support and Health of Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities: A Network-Oriented Approach.”
  • Liam Honigsberg, 2021. “Networks of Productive Interdependence: The Role of Relational Coordination in the Training of Resident Teachers.”
  • Maia Hyary, 2020. “The Influence of Household Food Insecurity and Maternal Stress on Maternal Weight and the Intergenerational Transmission of Food Insecurity.”
  • Cady Landa, 2020. “Young Children of Immigrants: Meeting Special Needs in Elementary School.”

  • Susan Phillips, 2020. “The First 18 Months: An Evaluation of Connecticut’s Family & Community Ties Foster Care Program.”

  • Robyn Powell, 2020. “The Intersection of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Child Welfare System.”
  • Charlotte Powley, 2020. “Menstrual Hygiene Management in U.S. Public Schools.”

Joint Degree with Sociology

  • Kimberly Lucas, 2020.  “’We have to do it all’: How Family Child Care Providers Negotiate the Boundaries of Care.”