Ted Cross - Senior Research Specialist

Ted Cross


Ted Cross, Senior Research Specialist

The Children & Family Research Center
School of Social Work, University of Illinois
1010 W. Nevada, Suite 2080
Urbana, IL 61801

(781) 640-4532
tpcross@illinois.edu

Educational/Professional Background
Ted Cross has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Boston University.

Research/Practice Interests
Dr. Cross’ overarching interest is in developing effective systemic responses to victims of child maltreatment. His current interests include a) well-being and mental health services for children involved with protective services, and b) investigation, prosecution and service delivery in response to child sexual abuse. Among his specific topics of interest are children's advocacy centers, child forensic interviewing, substantiation of child maltreatment, and polygraph testing in child abuse cases. He has served as an expert witness on polygraph testing and maintains a small private practice in child and adult psychotherapy.

Current Projects
Dr. Cross served as the Principal Investigator on the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a statewide longitudinal probability study of child well-being, service delivery and child welfare outcomes for children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Families. He is also working with Dr. Chiu on the evaluation of the Simulation Training for child welfare caseworkers in Illinois. And, he is part of the CFRC team that will be evaluating child healthcare services in Illinois.



Oct 2021 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: FY2021 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Kyle Adams, Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Cady Landa, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Satomi Wakita, and Shufen Wang

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2021 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2020 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in five chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, racial disproportionality, and child well-being.

Sep 2021 / Journal Publication    

Mississippi's Experience Implementing a Statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) Initiative

Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

In response to a national deficit in education about child maltreatment, colleges and universities throughout the United States provide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) courses and CAST certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment. This article reports results from an implementation evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative, the first effort to implement CAST courses and programs in colleges and universities throughout a state. Through interviews with administrators and faculty implementing CAST in Mississippi, we provide a brief history of the initiative, review the initial development of CAST courses and programs, discuss considerations related to the program’s implementation, and report faculty’s plans for the future of CAST. Our evaluation provides evidence that the implementation of Mississippi’s CAST initiative has had considerable success and has good prospects for enduring. Our findings also expand knowledge about the contextual issues involved in implementation, point to the value of strong partnerships between CAST colleges and universities and community organizations, and identify some considerations connected to expanding enrollment in CAST. Copies of the article are available from the first author at tpcross@llinois.edu.

Cross, T.P. & Chiu, Y. (2021). Mississippi’s experience implementing a statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) initiative. Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/26904586.2021.1951418
Sep 2021 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    
 

FY2021 Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy for New DCFS Investigators

Ted Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu, Shufen Wang, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, and Kirsten Havig

In FY2021, the Children and Family Research Center’s (CFRC) evaluation team again used multiple sub-studies to examine the implementation and outcomes of simulation training for new child protection investigators in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service. This is an important time historically to study simulation training because of the effect of COVID-19 on trainees, their work and the training itself. Chapter 1 summarizes CTPA’s implementation in 2021: adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual methods, training supervisors in problem-based learning, and re-formatting investigator training. Chapter 2 presents results from the Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST) measure. The measure was designed to examine change in trainees’ confidence over the course of simulation training. This is an important time to assess DEST results, because of changes in simulation training during FY2021, as discussed in the Introduction. Chapter 3 offers updated results from a post-training satisfaction survey. The chapter reports trainees’ satisfaction ratings for simulation training over this time period. It also provides qualitative results from the analysis of open-ended items in the post-training satisfaction survey. Chapter 4 examines whether simulation training is related to employee turnover. Using two different analytic methods, it asks whether investigators trained using simulation training have stayed in their jobs longer than investigators who were not provided simulation training. Chapter 5 examines the relationship of simulation training to child safety. We compared sim-trained and non-sim-trained investigators on the likelihood that children in their investigations were involved in re-reports to DCFS. The last chapter provides the conclusion of this year’s evaluation and recommendations for improving the program.

Mar 2021 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
 

Another Look at the Resilience of Children and Youth in DCFS Care: New Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Steve Tran, Soonhyung Kwon, and Theodore Cross

The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study found that many children and youth in out-of-home care in the state have significant developmental, physical, emotional, behavioral and/or educational challenges. However, some children in the study are capable of functioning well at home and school, despite the trauma of abuse and neglect and the difficulties of living in out-of-home care. We used measures from the study to examine how frequently children and youth functioned well across multiple measures. We found that many Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care demonstrated behavioral, emotional and educational resilience across multiple measures of functioning. Child welfare practice needs to take into account children and youth’s resilience and build on their strengths.

Feb 2021 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    

The Relationship of Needs Assessed at Entry Into Out-of-Home Care to Children and Youth’s Later Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Care

Theodore Cross, Steve Tran, Eliza Betteridge, Robert Hjertquist, Tawny Spinelli , Jennifer Prior, and Neil Jordan

Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, This study examines whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Logistic regression analyses found that having a need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home care (p < .05 to p < .001). The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in out-of-home care for many years. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in out-of-home care.

Cross, T., Tran, S., Betteridge, E., Hjertquist, R., Spinelli, T., Prior, J., & Jordan, N. (2021). The relationship of needs assessed at entry into out-of-home care to children and youth’s later emotional and behavioral problems in care. Children and Youth Services Review, 122(2021).
Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
 

How Frequently Do Young Children in DCFS Care Receive Early Childhood Education? Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

Considerable research has shown that early childhood education can contribute to children’s school readiness and later academic achievement and well-being. Early childhood education is particularly important for children in out-of-home care. Many young Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services lag in development and many older children in out-of-home care have problems succeeding at school. This brief examines how frequently children in this age group in IDCFS care receive early childhood education, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.

Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
 

Sexual Victimization and Sexual Behavior of Children and Youth in DCFS Care: Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Theodore Cross, Soonhyung Kwon, and Steve Tran

Studies have found that a substantial proportion of youth in out-of-home care have been the victims of sexual violence, and that troubling percentages of these youth engage in risky sexual behaviors. This brief uses data from the 2017 Illinois Study of Child Well-Being to examine the sexual experiences of Illinois youth in out-of-home care. In this brief, we focus on the following variables: having sexual intercourse, having non-consensual sexual intercourse (and age at first intercourse), using protection while having sex, becoming pregnant (for girls) or getting someone pregnant (for boys), having children, and receiving family planning services. The results underlines the need for foster parents and child welfare workers to be aware of youths’ sexual behavior and make sure that youth have the knowledge to deal with their sexuality responsibly.

Oct 2020 / Report    
 

Interim Report: Program Evaluation of Mississippi's CAST Initiative

Theodore Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

This report presents interim results from the program evaluation of Mississippi’s Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) initiative, the first statewide effort to increase undergraduate and graduate students’ knowledge and skills for responding to child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout Mississippi provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students about child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions, especially child protection. CFRC is conducting a mixed methods evaluation that includes both an implementation study based on interviews with faculty and an outcome study using surveys assessing CAST students’ experience, knowledge and judgment.

Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
 

Substance Use of Children and Youth in DCFS Care: Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

Research has shown that youth in out-of-home care have high rates of alcohol and illegal substance use. It is important then to track alcohol and substance use as part of monitoring the well-being of Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care. The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provided the first estimates of alcohol and substance use for these children and youth in a decade. This research brief provides results on alcohol and substance use from this study, including results not included in the main study report. The results suggest that most Illinois youth age 15 to 17 in out-of-home care have used alcohol and illegal substances in their life. Over a third in this age group had used alcohol or illegal substances in the last 30 days. Few caregivers reported that their child had an alcohol or substance abuse problem, and small numbers of youth reported using alcohol or illegal substances frequently in the past month. Nevertheless, we cannot be certain what proportion of these youth have a problem with alcohol and/or substance abuse, because caregivers may not know the extent of their child’s alcohol and substance use, and youth may be under-reporting their use.

Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
 

Behavioral Health Services for Children in DCFS Care: Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

A substantial proportion of children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) have emotional and behavioral problems. Given this substantial need, it is especially important to track whether children in out-of-home care are receiving the behavioral health services they need. Through interviews with caregivers, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study of Illinois children in out-of-home care examined what behavioral health services children and youth were currently receiving and had ever received. This brief presents results on the frequency of receiving different behavioral health services. Most children and youth with emotional or behavioral problems were receiving a behavioral health service, though much remains unknown about the type and quality of behavioral health services they receive.




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