“One of the essential areas for child well-being and permanency in the child welfare system is supportive relationships and connections with caring adults for children and youth. My earlier work in child protection ignited my passion for this area—I saw the importance of family connections. I want to help change policy and practice, and work to ensure that families are strengthened and kids maintain these important family relationships.”
Child Welfare; permanency and well-being; youth connections to supportive adults; strengthening families; racial equity; child welfare policy
Assistant Professor Annette Semanchin Jones joined the UB School of Social Work faculty in 2013. Semanchin Jones’ research focuses on innovative approaches in child welfare that aim to strengthen child well-being and permanency. Her research and teaching are informed by her professional experience working with children and families. She partners with public and private child welfare organizations on projects such as promoting relational permanence for youth in foster care; strengthening supportive networks for vulnerable youth; identifying supports for families and children who experience chronic neglect; and building organizational capacity to implement evidence-based trauma treatments.
During a 2013 project at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota, along with other researchers and child welfare agency staff, she developed the Youth Connections Scale (YCS) to measure the number of connections, the strength of those connections, and specific types of support that foster youth (ages 15 to 21) had from caring adults. With Hillside Family of Agencies in New York State, the scale was adapted for younger children to measure the connectedness of children (ages 9 to 14) in out-of-home care to supportive and caring adults. A 2017 article in Children and Youth Services Review, “Youth Connections Scale–Child Version Pilot Study: Adapted Tool for Children in Out-of-home Placement,” discusses the development and testing of this new measure.
During her doctoral work at the University of Minnesota, Semanchin Jones received the Children’s Bureau’s National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services Dissertation Award. Her dissertation examined the implementation of a differential response approach in child welfare, focusing on the impact of this approach on racial equity outcomes.