Esther Gross is a senior research analyst at Child Trends. She has expertise in technical assistance and currently manages a national, online case management database with over 500 users. Her research focuses on young adults’ experiences post-adoption and child welfare agencies’ efforts to recruit and retain foster/adoptive parents and relative caregivers for children in foster care. Her personal experience growing up in foster care and current work as a court appointed special advocate provide her with a perspective that is sometimes missing in child welfare research.
Esther serves in Child Trends’ project director role managing the day to day work of a five-year study on the well-being of young people adopted through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruitment program and a three-year study on young people adopted from North Carolina. Other projects she supports include an evaluation of New York state’s efforts to increase recruitment and retention of foster/adoptive parents and a pilot evaluation of Los Angeles County’s efforts to recruit and engage relatives to provide life-long connections and support to children living in foster care.
Esther has expertise in child welfare policy; financing; and state-level implementation, having produced several sets of state fact sheets on child maltreatment, foster care, adoption, relative caregiving, and child welfare financing. She has supported several evaluations by leading focus groups and analyzing qualitative findings. Esther brings a social justice lens to her work by engaging stakeholders and placing findings in the context of systemic discrimination and inequality. Prior to joining Child Trends, her research experience focused on statistical modeling and the sociology of health, race, class, and inequality.