Ted Cross - Senior Research Specialist

Ted Cross, PhD

[He / Him / His]

The Children & Family Research Center

School of Social Work, University of Illinois

1010 W. Nevada, Suite 2080

(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.

Recent Publications
Nov 2023 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross, Alex Wagner, Dan Bibel, and Rosa Mazzeo

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is a national crime database compiled by the Federal Bureau Investigation from data submitted by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country. NIBRS is used to study both national and state crime trends, and NIBRS data are frequently used in criminology studies. Most data in NIBRS are accurate, but research by CFRC’s Ted Cross, Alex Wagner and the late Dan Bibel has shown that NIBRS undercounts arrests in a number of circumstances, producing data that underestimates arrest rates. One reason is that overworked police departments do not have a mechanism for updating NIBRS data when arrests occur days or weeks after the crime takes place. Dr. Cross was invited to discuss his research in Round Rock, Texas to the very group overseeing the accuracy of NIBRS, the Association of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs. This is the Powerpoint file from that presentation.

Nov 2023 / Report / Training and Education on Maltreatment    
Yu-Ling Chiu and Theodore Cross

In 2021 the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) added simulation training to its Adult Protection Services (APS) Phase I Certification training. Trainees participate in simulations of real-life situations that every APS caseworker encounters. IDoA is the first adult protective state agency in the nation to employ a statewide simulation training for APS caseworkers. Because the development of simulation training at the IDoA is in an early stage, the Children and Family Research Center’s (CFRC) evaluation team focused on 1) gathering data to describe the program’s objectives, methods, theory, and implementation, 2) examining trainees’ perception of the impact of the training, and 3) examining change in trainees’ confidence over the course of simulation training. Analysis of quantitative data collected in the past 17 months indicates that trainees experienced increased confidence in their skills over the course of simulation training and support the value of the training. Analysis of qualitative data indicated that they received feedback they appreciated and felt they gained ability on a range of different skills. The program evaluation suggests that the simulation training makes a valued and effective contribution to IDoA’s Certification training of APS caseworkers.

Oct 2023 / Report / Guardianship    
Cady Landa, Theodore Cross, Heather Fox, Robin LaSota, Diamond Hines, Tachauna Parsons, Magdelene Thebaud, and Eunjee Song

This conference paper, written for the 2023 Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy and Management, explains federal and Illinois legislation and regulation regarding guardianship as a permanency option for children in foster care. It presents key findings from interviews and surveys of kin/fictive kin caregivers of black children and permanency professionals on how caregivers and professionals choose between guardianship and adoption; caregivers' experiences with agencies with permanency planning and substitute care; perceptions of caregivers and professionals of the role of race in permanency planning and decision-making; and barriers to guardianship.

Oct 2023 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross

Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are specialized multidisciplinary programs that respond to child abuse in 950 communities across the U.S. Central to the CACs is the multidisciplinary team, in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution and pediatrics and other professions work together to assess allegations of abuse, respond to children and family’s service needs, and hold perpetrators accountable. CACs have the potential to serve children and families better by engaging CAC partners in greater depth and including a wider range of professionals, such as domestic violence professionals, adult sexual assault professionals, chaplains, forensic scientists, Internet crime specialists. This presentation presents research findings and practice experience on expanding thinking CAC partnerships.

Oct 2023 / Report / Training and Education on Maltreatment    
Yu‐Ling Chiu, Kirsten Havig, Steve Tran, and Theodore Cross

This year, the Children and Family Research Center’s (CFRC) evaluation team continued to use multiple sub-studies to examine the implementation and outcomes of FY2023 simulation training for new child protection investigators in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service. Currently, the Child Welfare Office of Workforce Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) provides simulation training in DCFS offices in Chicago and the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at Northern Illinois University (NIU) conducts the training on their campus. Chapter 1 described the changes that happened during 2023, including the implementation of a hybrid model that uses both live and virtual methods, and the launch of the NIU laboratory. Chapter 2 presents quantitative results from the Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST) measure of change in trainees’ confidence over the course of simulation training. Chapter 3 analyzes quantitative data of the DCFS post-training survey to assess trainees’ experience of simulation training. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the qualitative findings of the open-ended questions from both the DEST and the DCFS post training survey which provide insight into the nature and quality of the experience for trainees. . Chapter 5 concludes that the positive results in 2023 suggest viability of the hybrid model.

Oct 2023 / Report / Guardianship, Racial Disproportionality, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Heather Fox, Theodore Cross, Robin LaSota, Cady Landa, and Eunjee Song

The Illinois caregiver survey was designed to capture caregivers’ perspectives on the permanency process, adoption, and guardianship. There were 137 caregivers who completed this survey, and they shared information about the 335 children in their care. Caregivers share in this survey their views on the communications they received about permanency options, the barriers that complicated and delayed permanency for a child in their care, their perspective on racial inequities in the permanency process, and the support they would find helpful in caring for the Black youth in their care. The findings from this study suggest five strategies for improving outcomes for children in care, especially Black children.

Oct 2023 / Report / Guardianship, Racial Disproportionality, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Cady Landa, Theodore Cross, Heather Fox, Robin LaSota, Diamond Hines, Tachauna Parsons, Magdelene Thebaud, and Eunjee Song

When children are removed from their home for maltreatment, the goal of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is to return them to a loving, safe, stable, and permanent home as soon as possible through reunification, adoption, or guardianship. Unfortunately, the most recent statistics show that 47.3% of children and youth who entered substitute care from DCFS in 2018 were not placed in a permanent home within three years, and the permanency rate is worse for Black children. This is one of a series of reports from a research program exploring subsidized guardianship, one rarely used but promising permanency option that might help increase permanency rates and reduce racial disparities in attaining permanency. With guardianship, a family member or close family friend becomes the child’s permanent caregiver, but the child’s birthparents can retain parental rights such as visitation or the ability to petition the court for reunification at a later time. The guardianship may be eligible for a subsidy, similar to an adoption subsidy, to assist in the care of the child. This report presents results from interviews with 11 long-term kin and fictive kin caregivers of Black children in substitute care. The interviews examine the caregivers’ experience of permanency planning for the children in their care.

Jun 2023 / Presentation / Guardianship, Racial Disproportionality, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Cady Landa, Heather Fox, Robin LaSota, Magdelene Thebaud, Diamond Hines, Tachauna Parsons, Eunjee Song, Sharva Hampton-Campbell, Soonhyung Kwon, and Mary Jane Steiner

In 2022, nearly 150 caregivers of Black children and youth participated in interviews and a survey to share experiences with child welfare services in permanency planning in Illinois. Caregivers shared factors that facilitate and inhibit the use of subsidized guardianship, as well as insights on strategies for improving supports to reduce race disparities in permanency outcomes. These findings illustrate the importance of: 1) adequate, timely, and consistent information on all permanency options, including guardianship; 2) system supports to direct service staff, court personnel, and others supporting families amidst staffing shortages and turnover; 3) ongoing engagement and personalized support with caregivers on trauma-informed parenting strategies; 4) increased representation of Black professionals in family support and permanency work, alongside deep work to build race equity practice in permanency planning. Presented on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, at the Illinois DCFS Office of Parent and Caregiver Support Statewide Meeting in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Jun 2023 / Presentation / Guardianship, Racial Disproportionality, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Heather Fox, Theodore Cross, and Magdelene Thebaud

Tensions in prevailing beliefs about permanency among judges, attorneys, and child welfare workers have broad implications for efforts to address racial inequities in child welfare outcomes. Findings from a study of subsidized guardianship have broad implications to the broader child welfare system. It will take concerted efforts and cultural changes among system partners including the justice system, prevention services, child welfare professionals, service professionals, and the court system to address disparities for Black children and improve outcomes for children who have experienced neglect or child maltreatment. Presented on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s 30th Colloquium in Denver, Colorado.

Jun 2023 / Report / Guardianship, Racial Disproportionality, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Heather Fox, Theodore Cross, Robin LaSota, Cady Landa and Eunjee Song

This report presents findings from a survey of Illinois permanency caseworkers and supervisors. The survey captured permanency professionals’ perspectives on the permanency process, adoption, and guardianship. This includes questions on 1) factors affecting the permanency process, 2) the comparison of adoption and guardianship, 3) circumstances supporting guardianship, 4) race disparities in the permanency process, and 5) professional development and support. The survey of permanency professionals was one component of a study of subsidized guardianship, an infrequently used but promising alternative for finding permanent homes for children in foster care. Our aim is to inform efforts to use guardianship wisely to increase the number of children placed in loving, stable, permanent homes, especially Black children.