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

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.

Jul 2020 / Journal Publication / Testing Innovative Child and Family Programs    

Moving from Procedure to Practice: A Statewide Child Protection Simulation Training Model

Betsy Goulet , Ted Cross , Yu-Ling Chiu, and Susan Evans

In FY 2015 the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services partnered with the University of Illinois Springfield to develop the Child Protection Training Academy in order to redesign the six-week classroom training for new investigators and create an experiential component. This paper chronicles the goals of the partnership and the planning and implementation of the Academy.

Betsy P. Goulet , Theodore P. Cross , Yu-Ling Chiu & Susan Evans (2020): Moving from procedure to practice: a statewide child protection simulation training model. Journal of Public Child Welfare, DOI: 10.1080/15548732.2020.1777247
 External Link
Mar 2020 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    

Children’s Relationships with Birth Parents when Children are in Out-of- Home Care: Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Aide Hernandez

Most children in out-of-home care because of child maltreatment remain attached to their birth parents despite the abuse or neglect they have suffered from them. This research brief reports on relationships with birth parents for children in out-of- home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Contact with birth parents was a positive experience for many children in out-of-home care, but not enough children had the positive contact with birth parents they needed.

Mar 2020 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    

Resilience of Children in DCFS Care: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Disproportionate percentages of children in out-of-home care have poor outcomes on child development, health, behavioral health, and education. Yet some children in out-of-home care are resilient and do well even if they have been placed out of home because they were maltreated.2 In this brief, we use data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study to learn about the resilience of Illinois children in out-of-home care. Most children and youth reported positive relationships with adults and positive activities such as sports and hobbies. Most had positive expectations for their future. These results suggest that many children and youth have strengths to count on to deal with the stresses and difficulties of experiencing child maltreatment, being removed from their home, and not yet having a permanent home to return to.

Mar 2020 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Biological Evidence in Adult and Adolescent Sexual Assault Cases: Timing and Relationship to Arrest

Ted Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

This study examined the timing of the crime laboratory report relative to arrests in sexual assault cases and explored the relationship between biological evidence and arrest in those cases in which the crime laboratory report came first and thus could have influenced the arrest decision. A random sample (N = 528) of cases that occurred between 2008 and 2010 and included a report to police was drawn from a Massachusetts statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault cases. Data from medical providers were merged with data abstracted from crime laboratory reports and with data requested from police departments. The vast majority (91.5%) of arrests took place before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted. The crime laboratory report was available before or near in time to the arrest in 11 cases. These cases were significantly more likely than other cases to have DNA profiles of the assailant, DNA matches to the suspect, and a match to another investigation in the FBI’s CODIS DNA database. Given that the probable cause needed to make an arrest in these cases was presumably established only after crime laboratory analysis was available, DNA may have helped lead to the arrest in these cases. However, these results should be interpreted very cautiously, because statistically significant results in early, small studies can have inflated effect sizes and often do not replicate in future studies. Because most arrests occur well before biological evidence is available, improvements in recovering biological evidence may have modest effects on arrest rates, though they may impact arrest rates by identifying more serial offenders. Future research on the relationship of biological evidence to arrest should use methods to increase sample size of relevant cases, such as oversampling cases with later arrests and using case control study designs. Future studies should also use case abstraction and interview methods to explore how police use biological evidence to make arrests.

Cross, T.P., Alderden, M.A, Wagner, A., Sampson, L., Peters, B. & Lounsbury, K. (2020). Biological evidence in adult and adolescent sexual assault cases: Timing and relationship to arrest. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7/8, 1828-1939.
Mar 2020 / Journal Publication    

Child Advocacy Studies (CAST): A National Movement to Improve the Undergraduate and Graduate Training of Child Protection Professionals

Victor Vieth, Betsy Goulet, Michele Knox, Jennifer Parker, Lisa Johnson, and Ted Cross

This article documents the growth of the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) movement to improve education on child abuse for undergraduates and graduates training in child-serving professions. CAST programs provide instruction on a range of topics on child maltreatment and experiential learning using simulations of child protection professional encounters with families. CAST courses and programs have been implemented in 73 institutions of higher education in twenty states. CAST is a promising approach to improving the skills of child-serving professionals across the country in dealing with child abuse and neglect.

Vieth, Victor I.; Goulet, Betsy; Knox, Michele; Parker, Jennifer; Johnson, Lisa B.; Tye, Karla Steckler; and Cross, Theodore P. (2019) "Child Advocacy Studies (CAST): A National Movement to Improve the Undergraduate and Graduate Training of Child Protection Professionals," Mitchell Hamline Law Review: Vol. 45 : Iss. 4 , Article 5.
 External Link
Mar 2020 / Research Brief    

Physical Health of Children in DCFS Care: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Aide Hernandez, Steve Tran, and Ted Cross

Considerable research shows that many children in out-of-home care have serious health problems. This research brief profiles the health of Illinois children in out-of-home care, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Caregivers’ responses suggested that nearly half of children had a serious or chronic health condition, and almost a third of youths interviewed reported a serious or chronic health problem. More than a quarter of youth reported that they had seen a doctor or nurse for an injury in the previous year. The good news is that high rates of children were receiving preventative health and dental services, according to caseworkers. The high rates of health problems and injuries among children in out-of-home care means that we need to be vigilant about understanding and responding to their health care needs.

Dec 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    

Children’s Relationship with Foster Caregivers: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well- Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Having a good relationship with a foster caregiver contributes substantially to children’s well-being in foster care. Assessing this relationship for Illinois children helps us understand and potentially help improve their quality of life. This research brief updates the assessment of Illinois children’s relationship with their foster caregivers using data collected in 2017-2018. This brief is one in a series that presents capsule summaries of results from the 2017 Illinois Child-Well-Being Study in different domains of well-being.

Nov 2019 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Emergency Department Admissions of Child Sexual Abuse: Recent National Trends and Correlates

J. Helton, M. Vaughn, J. Carbone, and Ted Cross

For children who have been sexually abused, emergency department (ED) professionals provide immediate medical care, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prophylaxis for potential HIV exposure, and emergency contraception.¹ In some cases, ED clinicians conduct forensic examinations to assist with child protection and criminal investigations.² Physicians and nurses in EDs are among the first to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and identify patients who are currently being abused, such as children being exploited in sex trafficking.³ Despite the medical, criminal justice, and protective roles that ED professionals serve in caring for vulnerable children, few data are available regarding the frequency with which children are admitted to the ED for sexual abuse. Therefore, this analysis observed patterns among children admitted to the ED for sexual abuse across the United States and examined important subgroup characteristics based on demographic and primary payer data.

Helton, J., Vaughn, M., Carbone, J. & Cross T.P. (2019). Emergency department admissions of child sexual abuse: Recent national trends and correlates. JAMA Pediatrics. Nov 04, 1-3
Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    

Findings From the 2017 Illinois Child Well- Being Study

Aide Hernandez, Ted Cross, and Steve Tran

An infographic presenting some of the major findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    

Children in Out-of-Home Care and their Contact with Siblings: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Children’s relationships with their siblings may be the one source of familial love that they can count on when they are placed in out-of-home care. Yet, placement in out-of-home care can separate children from their siblings. Illinois state law requires siblings who are in out-of-home care to be placed together whenever it is in their best interest and not in violation of other rules of the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study on siblings of children in out-of-home care.. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Many children in out-of-home care were placed with siblings, but a number of children had siblings in other placements, especially if there were three or more siblings in the family. Often children had limited contact with their siblings and wished for more interaction with them. These findings suggest the need for more progress to enable siblings in out-of-home care to live together and to strengthen the connections between siblings who must live apart.

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