Brittany Paige Mihalec-Adkins was in congregate and foster care in Indiana through middle and high school, before heading to college at 17. Brittany is now a PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. Prior to beginning her PhD work, Brittany completed her Master’s in Educational Psychology and Research Methodology (2016), and Bachelor’s degrees in Psychological Sciences and Law & Society (2015). Brittany’s research examines the lived experiences of families in contact with the child welfare system in the U.S., with particular emphases on: 1) the protective potential of educational settings for both adolescent foster youth and preschool-aged children at risk of entering care; 2) the effects of foster placement/family separation on relationships between foster youth and their biological families – in both the short- and long-term; and 3) the psychological and social experiences of parents undergoing child protective interventions. Brittany’s research has been supported by a National Science Foundation fellowship and the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being.

Ultimately, Brittany is committed to changing the way systems approach, investigate, and serve youth and parents – keeping in mind the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and with the guiding intention of empowering families. In her community, Brittany serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lafayette. Brittany has also completed the National Foster Youth Institute’s Congressional Shadow Program (2017), and a Family Policy Internship with the Purdue Center For Families/Family Impact Institute. After completing her PhD (expected: 2021) Brittany hopes to achieve professorship at a research-intensive university, where she can combine her experiences in the child welfare system, her expertise in research methods and data analyses, and her commitment to community capacity building to improve the way our systems serve, heal, and build up children and families.

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