Cardiff University Scholar Award, Cardiff University - Social Work
Heather’s career has focused on creating and using evidence to improve outcomes for children who have experienced child maltreatment and placement in foster care. In high school, she began volunteering at a shelter for children in out-of-home care. Despite their exposure to substantial adversity, these children demonstrated exceptional resilience. As she continued her studies, however, Heather learned that the statistics painted a much bleaker picture. Twenty years ago she designed a mentoring and skills training program for young people in foster care entitled Fostering Healthy Futures, which has been tested in three randomised controlled trials and has demonstrated efficacy in a number of domains. A ten-year follow-up study with young adults who were placed in foster care during preadolescence provides rich longitudinal data that she looks forward to analysing during her Fulbright award period. Heather plans to collaborate with researchers and students at Cardiff University to develop more innovative and contextually-sensitive prevention programming for youth. During her time in Cardiff, she and her husband plan to take advantage of the many opportunities for theatre-going at the Millennium Centre and hiking long-distance trails.