Sarah A Font Twitter

Sarah A Font

Assistant Professor of Sociology

612 Oswald Tower
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 863-2259

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
  2. Ph.D. Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  3. Master of Social Work, Western Michigan University
  4. Bachelor of Social Work, Western Michigan University


Research Interests

My research focuses on various issues related to child maltreatment and the child welfare system, including the measurement of child maltreatment, the causes and effects of involvement with the child protection and foster care systems, case-level decision-making, and system effectiveness.

Current Research Projects

2018-2022 R01 HD095946, NICHD (PI): System and Social Determinants of the Health of Foster Children

This project investigates the impact of foster care, and specific experiences within foster care, on the physical and mental health of children exposed to abuse or neglect. The Aims of this proposal are: (1) Examine the effects of foster care on health over time; (2) Investigate the influence of placement experiences on foster children’s health during and after exiting foster care; and (3) Evaluate the effects of maintaining family connections on foster children’s health during and after exiting foster care.

2018-2019 Center for Rural Pennsylvania (Co-PI): Incidence Rates and Risk Factors for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Rural and Urban Counties in Pennsylvania

The goals of this project are to assess how CSEC is investigated in the child welfare system, and to understand the barriers to accurately identifying victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

2017-2019 R21 HD091459, NICHD (Site PI/Co-I): Emerging Adulthood for Maltreated and Foster Youth

This project uses a statewide, longitudinal, administrative dataset that includes the entire population of CPS-involved youth and youth whose families participated in social welfare benefit programs in Wisconsin to examine how a range of maltreatment and OHC experiences are associated with social, educational, and economic outcomes in emerging adulthood, including employment and earnings, benefit receipt, educational attainment, fertility timing, and incarceration, paying close attention to the type(s) of maltreatment experienced as well as OHC placement characteristics (type, length, number of placements) and type of exit from OHC (aging out, reunification or adoption). Finally, we will examine the extent to which young adult parents who experienced childhood CPS involvement or OHC are likely to become the subject of a CPS investigation or OHC placement regarding their own children. This research extends prior work in this area by using multiple identification strategies and comparison (counterfactual) groups to reduce bias in estimated associations of both maltreatment and OHC with subsequent outcomes. It has implications for informing policy and practice to better prepare CPS-involved youth to successfully transition to adulthood and, thereby, for reducing subsequent public expenditures on this population.

Select Publications

Font, Sarah, Maria Cancian, Lawrence M. Berger, and Anna DiGiovanni. 2020. “Patterns of Intergenerational Child Protective Services Involvement.” Child Abuse & Neglect 99 (January): in press. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104247.

Maguire-Jack, Kathryn, Sarah A. Font, and Rebecca Dillard. 2019. “Child Protective Services Decision-Making: The Role of Children’s Race and County Factors.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, May.

Font, Sarah A., Maria Cancian, and Lawrence M. Berger. 2019. “Prevalence and Risk Factors for Early Motherhood among Low-Income, Maltreated, and Foster Youth.” Demography 56:261-284. doi:10.1007/s13524-018-0744-x

Font, Sarah A., Lawrence M. Berger, and Maria Cancian. 2018. "Permanency and the Educational and Economic Attainment of Foster Youth in Early Adulthood." American Sociological Review  83(4):716-743. doi:10.1177/0003122418781791 

Font, Sarah A., Kierra M. P. Sattler, and Elizabeth Gershoff. 2018. "When Home is Still Unsafe: From Family Reunification to Foster Care Reentry." Journal of Marriage and Family 80(5):1333-1343. doi:10.1111/jomf.12499

Font, Sarah A., Kierra Sattler, and Elizabeth Gershoff. 2018. “Measurement and Correlates of Foster Care Placement Changes.” Children & Youth Services Review 91:248-258. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.06.019

Font, Sarah A., and Jamie Cage. 2017. "Dimensions of Physical Punishment and Their Associations with Children's Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment." 2017. Child Abuse & Neglect 75:29-40. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.008

Berger, Lawrence M., Sarah A. Font, Kristen S. Slack, and Jane Waldfogel. 2017. “Income and Child Maltreatment in Unmarried Families: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Review of Economics of the Household 15(4): 1345-1372. doi: 10.1007/s11150-016-9346-9

Gershoff, Elizabeth T. and Sarah A. Font. 2016. “Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools: Prevalence, Disparities in Use, and Status in State and Federal Policy.” Social Policy Report 30(1).

Font, Sarah A. 2015. “Is Higher Placement Stability in Kinship Care By Virtue or Design?” Child Abuse & Neglect 42(April):99-111. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.01.003

Font, Sarah. A., and Lawrence M. Berger. 2015. “Child Maltreatment and Children’s Developmental Trajectories in Early to Middle Childhood.” Child Development 86(2):536-556. doi:10.1111/cdev.12322

Research Interests:

Family and Relationships:

child abuse and maltreatment, foster care, family policy