Child Well-Being Workshop Highlights Need for Interdisciplinary Research, Organizers Say

Posted March 29, 2023

If there’s one thing that came out of the recent Atlanta Workshop on Public Policy and Child Well-Being co-sponsored by the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, it’s that more such interdisciplinary efforts are needed in the effort to understand and reduce child abuse and neglect.

“It illuminated that we desperately need more research on public policies and children,” said co-organizer Lindsey Rose Bullinger of the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. “There are too many unanswered questions. And it brought policy-focused researchers together to share their important research in a way that isn’t often done.”

The conference, also sponsored by the School of Public Policy and the School of Economics, was held March 10-11.

It brought together researchers from four countries and provided a platform for sharing policy-focused research on child well-being across various disciplines. The keynote speaker was Lisa A. Gennetian, Pritzker Professor of Early Learning Policy Studies at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.

The conference facilitated conversations on topics such as prevention of adverse childhood experiences, promotion of child well-being, child welfare, child health, parenting behaviors, pregnancy-related and birth outcomes, food insecurity, housing insecurity, and education.

It featured a wide range of papers and presentations from established researchers and emerging scholars in a variety of fields. Just a few highlights:

  • Doctoral student Katherine Engel from American University presented her research on the intriguing link between birth month, family income, and early childhood development in a paper titled "Baby Bump? Birth Month, Family Income, and Early Childhood Development."
  • Tara Watson from Williams College explored the impact of social security on child well-being in her paper "Does Old Age Social Security Help Children?"
  • Valentina Duque from American University discussed the effects of public housing on children's education with her study "The Effects of Public Housing on Children: Evidence from National Experiment in Colombia."
  • Cody Vaughn of the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse presented "Medicaid Generosity and Food Hardship Among Children”; the paper delves into the relationship between healthcare policy and food security.

Georgia Tech scholars also presented their research at the conference.

Mayra Pineda-Torres, assistant professor in the School of Economics, shared her study titled "Improvements in Schooling Opportunities and Teenage Fertility." The study examined the relationship between educational access and adolescent pregnancy rates. School of Economics Postdoctoral Fellow Erdal Asker presented work on "The Impact of School Spending on Civic Engagement: Evidence from School Finance Reforms."

Olga Shemyakina, associate professor in the School of Public Policy, served as a discussant on Duque’s presentation.

The event also provided an opportunity to increase collaboration and engagement among researchers, aligning with the Ivan Allen College's goal of promoting interdisciplinary work, said Daniel Dench, an assistant professor in the School of Economics who co-organized the event with Bullinger.

“Bringing together experts from the many dimensions of child well-being; education, poverty, income support, foster care, maternal and infant well-being, etc., was a unique experience. It allowed for cross-pollination of ideas across content areas and disciplines,” Dench said.

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Participants in the Atlanta Workshop on Public Policy and Child Well-Being pose for a photo during the conference.

Contact For More Information

Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts