Kaela Byers

Researcher

Dr. Kaela Byers is a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include early intervention and prevention to promote child well-being, particularly among vulnerable populations. As a Researcher at Chapin Hall, Byers collaborates on studies that include system-focused evaluation of child welfare, pediatric primary care, and early childhood service systems. In this role, she serves as the quantitative methodologist for a large-scale, multisite study of pediatric primary care toxic stress prevention initiatives. She also serves on an evaluation team conducting a longitudinal program evaluation of systems innovations in residential treatment for children involved in the Illinois child welfare system.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Byers was a researcher at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Center for Children and Families. Her research and scholarship focused on ecobiodevelopmental and cross-systems approaches to the promotion of child well-being. Areas studied included toxic stress screening, promotion of child and family protective factors, and implementation and evaluation of evidence-based interventions in child welfare, early childhood, and community mental health service. Past research projects have included studies to develop and validate enhanced screening for early identification of toxic stress, implementation evaluation, and model development. Before joining the University of Kansas, Byers worked for a community mental health center in Kansas providing home- and community-based early childhood mental health services and community mental health consultation to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Byers received her PhD from the University of Kansas’s School of Social Welfare, where she was a Doris Duke Fellow for the Promotion of Child Well-Being. She received her MSW from the University of Maryland-Baltimore, with a specialization in social action and community development.

PhD in Social Welfare, University of Kansas

Master of Social Work, University of Maryland-Baltimore

Bachelor of Social Work, University of Kansas

Byers, K. (2018, January). Screening for early identification of toxic stress among young children: Validation of the Household Strength and Strain Inventory. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Matthews, K., & Byers, K. (2018, January). Differential impact of wraparound facilitation best practices on youth outcomes: A latent class analysis. Poster presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Byers, K., Kapp, S., & Damman, J. (2017, January). Youth functioning as a predictor for positive outcomes: How item-based latent class membership predicts youth outcomes at discharge from psychiatric residential treatment. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 21st Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Mariscal, S., Byers, K., Yan, Y., & Liming, K. (2016, August). Ready, set, go!: Planning strategies to adopt and install a parenting program for substance affected families. Paper presented at the Child Welfare League of America 2016 National Conference, Orange County, CA.

Byers, K. (2016, May). Targeting parental nurturance to buffer the effects of environmental stressors in early childhood. In M. Barnett (Chair), Influences on social-emotional development in the context of parenting and socioeconomic adversity across early childhood. Symposium conducted at the 2016 International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA.

Damman, J., Byers, K., & Kapp, S. (2016, March). Capturing resilience among youth in psychiatric residential treatment: Using big data to inform innovative uses of the Ohio Youth Problem, Functioning, and Satisfaction Scales. Paper presented at the 29th Annual Children’s Mental Health Research & Policy Conference, Tampa, FL.

Kann, T., Davis-Groves, S., Byers, K., & McDonald, T. (2016, March). Parent support and training services: A calm voice in a storm of uncertainty. Poster presentation at the 29th Annual Children’s Mental Health Research & Policy Conference, Tampa, FL.

Byers, K., Yan, Y., Mariscal, S., & McDonald, T. (2016, January). Barriers to reunification and overrepresentation of young children affected by parental substance abuse: Selecting a data-informed child welfare target population. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Kapp, S., Damman, J., & Byers, K. (2016, January). Problem severity and youth functioning: How initial item response predicts youth outcomes at discharge from psychiatric residential treatment. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Akin, B., Brook, J., Lloyd, M., & Byers, K. (2016, January). Front line perspectives on implementation of evidence-based interventions in child welfare settings. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Kotake, C., Mortensen, J., Shuey, E., & Allen, A. (2016, January). Preventing child maltreatment in family, neighborhood, and policy contexts: Ensuring a safe and healthy start. In K. Byers & B. Chaiyachati (Chairs), Symposium at the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

*Byers, K. (2015, October). Early childhood toxic stress: Causes, consequences, and innovations in identification and intervention. University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Margaret Schutz Gordon Workshop, Lawrence, KS.

*Byers, K. (2015, September). Strengthening families to buffer toxic stress in early childhood. Presentation to U.S. DHHS, Administration for Children and Families, Region VII Federal Site Visit, Kansas City, MO.

*Byers, K. (2015, July). Childhood toxic stress: Causes, consequences, and innovations in identification and intervention. Presentation at the 26th Annual Kansas School Nurse Conference, Wichita, KS.

*Byers, K. (2015, April). Ecobiodevelopmental approach to toxic stress screening and intervention. Presentation at the Annual CME Meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kansas Chapter, Kansas City, MO.

*Byers, K. (2015, March). Babies, brains, and bonding: Innovations in toxic stress screening & intervention. Presentation at Kansas Parents as Teachers Association State Conference, Topeka, KS.

Akin, B., & Byers, K. (2015, January). Placement stability and social-emotional well-being: Examining key measures in a formative evaluation of evidence-based parent training for Children in Foster Care. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 19th Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

*Byers, K. (2013, November). Child social-emotional health: A biobehavioral protective factor approach to buffering toxic stress. Presentation at the 37th Annual Governor’s Conference for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect, Topeka, KS.

Byers, K., Byrnes, K., Davis-Groves, S., & Pedersen, K. (2013, February). Toxic stress in early childhood. Presentation at Kansas Division for Early Childhood Annual Conference, Wichita, KS.

Johnson, T., & Byers, K. (2012, January). Mapping the core components of a parent support and training model for parents of seriously emotionally disturbed children. Paper presentation at the Society for Social Work and Research 16th Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Davis-Groves, S., Byrnes, K., & Byers, K. (2009, December). From rhetoric to reality: Applying a family-driven paradigm to research and evaluation. Poster presentation at the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health 20th Anniversary Conference, Washington, DC.

2016 Dean Kondrat Award for Outstanding PhD Student: $1,000 for outstanding performance and contributions

2014 University of Kansas Leading Light Award: Award for obtaining external research funding awards in excess of $1 million

2013-2015 Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being: $50,000 dissertation award for emerging leaders capable of creating practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the nation’s ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment

Book Chapters

Seay, K., Byers, K., Feely, M., Lanier, P., Maguire-Jack, K., & McGill, T. (2015). Scaling up: Replicating promising interventions with fidelity. In D. Daro, A. C. Donnelly, L. A. Huang, & B. Powell (Eds.), Advances in Child Abuse Prevention Knowledge: The Perspective of New Leadership (pp. 179-202). New York, NY: Springer.

Walsh, T., McCourt, S., Rostad, W., Byers, K., Ocasio, K. (2015). Promoting protective factors and strengthening resilience. In D. Daro, A. C. Donnelly, L. A. Huang, & B. Powell (Eds.), Advances in Child Abuse Prevention Knowledge: The Perspective of New Leadership (pp. 203-236). New York, NY: Springer.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Akin, B., Brook, J., Byers, K., & Lloyd, M. (2016). Worker perspectives from the front line: Implementation of evidence-based interventions in child welfare settings. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(3), 870-882.

Akin, B., Byers. K., Lloyd, M., & McDonald, T. (2015). Joining formative evaluation with translational science to assess an EBI in foster care: Examining social-emotional well-being and placement stability. Children and Youth Services Review, 58, 253-264.

Byers, K., Johnson, T., Byrnes, K., Davis-Groves, S., & McDonald, T. (2014). Elevating stakeholder voice: Considering parent priorities in model development for community mental health center services. Children and Youth Services Review, 43, 124-130.

Maguire-Jack, K., & Byers, K. (2014). The impact of prevention programs on decisions in child protective services. Child Welfare, 92(5), 59-86.

Johnson, T., Byers, K., Byrnes, K., Davis-Groves, S., & McDonald, T. (2013). Obtaining stakeholder consensus on the core components of a parent support & training model for parents of seriously emotionally disturbed children. Families in Society, 94(3) 211-219.

Reports

Byers, K. (2016). Buffering the effects of toxic stress in early childhood: Screening for the prevention of childhood social-emotional disorders and family system disruption Doctoral dissertation. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Byers, K., McDonald, T., Lindeman, D. (2015). Strengthening Families to Buffer Toxic Stress: Western Kansas Expansion. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Center for Children and Families.

Byers, K., McDonald, T., Lindeman, D. (2014). Effects of a Biobehavioral Intervention for Families with Young Children Exposed to Toxic Stress: Preliminary Outcomes. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Center for Children and Families.

Byers, K., McDonald, T., Lindeman, D. (2013). Strengthening Families to Buffer Toxic Stress: A Biobehavioral Approach to Screening and Intervention for the Promotion of Child Social-Emotional Wellbeing. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.

Davis-Groves, S., Byrnes, K., Byers, K, McDonald, T. (2012). The Parent Support and Training Practice Protocol – Validation of the Scoring Tool and Establishing Statewide Baseline Fidelity. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.

Davis-Groves, S.A., Byrnes, K., Byers, K., & McDonald, T. (2011). Implementation of the Parent Support and Training Practice Protocol with Community Mental Health Teams in Kansas. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.

Davis-Groves, S.A., Byrnes, K., Byers, K., Johnson, T., & McDonald, T. (2010). The Parent Support and Training Services: The PST Practice Protocol, Outcomes, and Fidelity Monitoring Procedures. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.