Sara Shaw, PhD is a research scientist on the early childhood development team at Child Trends. Her work focuses on using mixed methods and community-based research to promote housing and educational justice for youth and families experiencing housing and economic insecurity.
At Child Trends, Sara plays a key role in designing and launching projects focused on housing and educational justice at both local and national levels. This includes research that highlights barriers – due to systemic racism and sexism – in accessing housing and early care and education, as well as research that connects families and youth experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness to high-quality education programs. For example, at the local level, she is currently part of a team working closely with residents in Newark, New Jersey to co-produce knowledge and policy recommendations to advance community-level change for families experiencing housing related challenges in the South Ward neighborhood. She also previously served as the co-principal investigator for an evaluation of Newark, New Jersey’s South Ward Promise Neighborhood initiative, which includes a study on issues related to housing in the community.
At the national level, Sara is principal investigator on a project exploring the child care needs and preferences of families living in Public Housing Authority (PHA) owned housing. She also led the development of a series of reports for the federal Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) focused on the potential for data to help facilitate access to early care and education programs for families experiencing homelessness.
Throughout all of her work, Sara engages in participatory research and evaluation, using principals of equitable evaluation to guide the design and implementation of projects. The underpinnings of her research are guided by the notion that data and evaluation can help promote social justice by unearthing inequities, lifting up community voices, and challenging the status quo.
She has presented to a wide variety of audiences including practitioners, policy makers, and researchers and has written research briefs, reports, white papers, and practitioner focused newsletters. Most recently she has been cited and interviewed as a housing expert by The New York Times, The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and a local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate station.
Sara holds a PhD in human development and family sciences from the University of Delaware, and a Master of Science in experimental psychology from Saint Joseph’s University.