Krista Thomas

Senior Policy Fellow

Dr. Krista Thomas is a Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall. Thomas leads blended teams of policy, practice, and research experts in efforts to build the capacity of state and local human service systems across the country to execute large-scale reform initiatives and improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Leveraging opportunities like the federal title IV-E waiver authority, Thomas partners with human service leaders to identify a set of priority outcomes, articulate a set of strategies to improve performance, execute their implementation, and monitor their effectiveness. Thomas is a leader in Chapin Hall’s efforts to build and test its capacity building and systems change framework designed to accelerate and sustain change that benefits children and families involved with or at risk for involvement with the child welfare system. Her areas of expertise include federal child welfare policy, programs, and monitoring; large-scale child welfare performance improvement at the state and local level; strategic planning; evidence use in decision making; implementation; continuous quality improvement; and differential response in child welfare.

Prior to coming to Chapin Hall, Thomas served for over a decade in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau in both regional and national offices. As a federal child welfare specialist, Thomas monitored and supported numerous states in both federally mandated and state-driven child welfare program improvement efforts, strategic planning, and implementation of evidence-based practices. Thomas also provided leadership in the federal Child and Family Services Review process as well as the Children’s Bureau’s efforts to enhance the field’s capacity in child welfare evaluation.

Thomas holds a PhD in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and Bachelor of Arts from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

PhD in Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago

Master of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis

Bachelor of Arts, Knox College

Anderson, C., Grewal-Kök, Y., & Thomas, K. (2023, April). TANF & child welfare collaboration: Preventative strategies focused on family well-being: A Review of the evidence and implications for practice. Co-presenter at Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance (OFA) webinar.

Thomas, K., & Davidson, S.(2017, October). Building a theory of change for FAR-NYC: The foundation for continuous quality improvement. Presented at the International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement, Vail, CO.

Fluke, J., & Thomas, K. (2016, September). Family engagement: Defining, measuring, and modeling the complexities. Paper presented at the National Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect, Washington, DC.

Fluke, F., Moore, K., & Thomas, K. (2016, March). Are you being engaged? Paper presented at the 29th Annual Research and Policy Conference for Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Behavioral Health, Tampa, FL.

Thomas, K., & Dailey, M.(2016, January). Sharing the workload: The importance of a governance structure. Presented at the Casey Convening for State-Administered Title IV-E Waiver States, Seattle, WA.

Thomas, K., & Miller, B. (2015, November). Waivers 101: An overview. Presented at the Casey Convening for County-Administered Title IV-E Waiver States, Seattle, WA.

Thomas, K., & O’Brien, J. (2015, November). CANS – A meaningful intervention in Title IV-E waiver states. Presented at the TCOM/CANS Conference 2015, Seattle, WA.

Thomas, K. (2015, October). Making a difference in Harris County: Values, action and permanency. Presented at Embracing Permanency: A Call to Action, Harris County Permanency Summit, Houston, TX.

Thomas, K. (2015, September). Integrating system reform efforts: Aligning the CFSP, Title IV-E waivers, and the CFSR-PIP. Presented at the 17th Annual Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects Meeting, Washington, DC.

ACF Assistant Secretary’s Organizational Team Achievement Award, Administration for Children and Families, 2014.

Jane Addams College of Social Work Teaching Assistantship, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011-2012.

ACF Assistant Secretary’s Organizational Team Achievement Ward, Administration for Children and Families, 2009.

ACF Assistant Secretary’s Partnering for HHS Excellence Award, Administration for Children and Families, 2006.

U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2004-2006.

Grewal-Kök, Y., Cusick, G., Anderson, C., Weiner, D., Thomas, K., & Heaton, L. (2023). Economic and concrete supports: Core strategies to promote family well-being and race equity. In K. Briar-Lawson, P. Day, & L. Azzi-Lessing (Eds.), Child neglect, inequity, and poverty: Contextual issues and implications (pp. 1–42). Child Welfare League of America.

Thomas, K., & Halbert, C. (2021). Transforming child welfare: Prioritizing prevention, racial equity, and advancing child and family well-being. National Council on Family Relations Policy Brief.

Thomas, K., Rolock, N., Fong, R., & McCroy, R. (2021).  Multisystems approach to child welfare services. In M. Hanna, R. Fong, N. Rolock, & R. McRoy (Eds.). Introduction to child welfare: A culturally responsive, multisystemic, evidence-based approach. New York: Cognella Press.

Lynch, M., Wilks, O., Blatt, A., Anderson, C., Thomas, K., & Weiner, D. (2020). Family First Prevention Services Act readiness, planning and implementation: Chapin Hall’s Implementation Collaborative toolkit. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Thomas, K. (2019). House Bill 1 Study Group: Privatization of child welfare services. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Thomas, K. (2018). House Bill 1 Study Group: Performance-based contracting recommendations. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Key Work

Key Work

Show more