Thomas P. McDonald, PhD
Originally trained as a civil engineer, Dr. McDonald has applied his skills in the STEM sciences to the field of child welfare. He has been at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare for 26 years, half of those as Associate Dean for Research. In that time, the School’s extramural research funding has more than tripled, due in no small part to his efforts to support funded research among colleagues, students, and staff, as well as continue his own research agenda.
Dr. McDonald’s previous experience includes staff positions at the Institute for Research on Poverty (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and the Human Services Development Institute at the University of Southern Maine where he helped start and worked in the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Management and Administration (now designated “Organizational Improvement”).
Dr. McDonald’s first published article, “Agencies in the Computer Age,” (with George Hoshino, Social Work, 20(1), 10-14) is commonly recognized as the first published article in social work using complex statistical techniques on agency data to improve service to clients. Since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, he has focused his attention on the development of evidence in the prevention, assessment, and treatment of children at risk of entry, or already served by, the child welfare system. Specifically, he has examined determinants/predictors of reunification of families with children in foster care, barriers to family permanency, and the impact of specific Family Preservation models on family stability. Most recently, he has served as Principal Investigator on the Kansas Intensive Permanency Project, a statewide experiment under the federal Permanency Innovations Initiative to determine the most effective approaches for reducing long term foster care.