Alaina Flannigan, PhD, is a research scientist in the child welfare research area at Child Trends. Currently, her projects at Child Trends include improving post-adoption services for adoptees and their families, establishing high quality supportive housing vouchers and services for transition-age foster youth who are at risk of homelessness, and enhancing recruitment efforts for foster, resource, and adoptive homes. Her projects span the country and include work in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Nebraska.
Prior to joining Child Trends, Dr. Flannigan served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In this role, she was sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) and placed with the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, where she focused on housing, tax, health, and social safety net policy to ensure that America’s families can lead healthy, productive lives and meaningfully contribute to the growth of the economy.
Dr. Flannigan received her PhD in Educational Psychology and MA in Program Evaluation from the University of Texas at Austin, where she focused on human development, culture, and learning science. She has a background in applied statistical modeling and qualitative methods as well as project management experience. Her research focuses on cultivating resilience for older youth in foster care, particularly through establishing relationships with supportive adults. A central philosophy to Dr. Flannigan’s research and work is the use of strengths-based approaches that focus on identifying areas of success and resilience for an individual—as opposed to taking a deficit view that centers on an individual’s challenges and shortcomings.