About Our Work

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Youth exposure to trauma and stress is a major public health problem that increases risk for a wide range of mental health and adjustment difficulties. Ethnic minority youths are at disproportionate risk of being exposed to trauma and having their mental health needs go unmet.

The ultimate goal of the ACCESO Research Group is to develop and disseminate clinical practices and service delivery models that are grounded in the latest scientific research, can be feasibly delivered in challenging clinical settings, and are well aligned with the values and preferences of the youths and families who receive the services.

By focusing on three overlapping areas, the work of the ACCESO Lab aims to understand and meet the needs of youths and their families.

  1. Our work focuses on understanding patterns of risk and resilience in ethnic minority and immigrant youths exposed to violence. Guided by a culturally informed developmental psychopathology framework, we seek to understand how multiple factors (e.g., immigration, cultural values, adversity, trauma exposure, temperament) come together to promote or inhibit the adjustment of Latino youths.
  2. Our work examines the extent to which public systems of care are meeting the mental health needs of youths. In particular, we focus on examining racial disparities and patterns of service use for youths in the public mental health and child-welfare systems.
  3. We aim to translate knowledge of mental health risk, service use patterns, and service systems into improved mental health services for vulnerable youths.

In an effort to generate knowledge that can have the greatest public health impact, our research is conducted in close partnership with the community agencies, and public service systems ultimately responsible for serving vulnerable youth and families.

Current Projects

We are interested in learning more about the perspectives and experiences of teachers working with students exposed to trauma. If you are a K-12 teacher, you are eligible to participate in this study. There is no direct benefit to you, but your participation can help us support teachers like you. If 25 or more teachers from your school participate, we can also share anonymous, group information to assist your school in understanding and addressing teacher needs.

Latino children and adolescents in Colorado and across the nation are at significant risk of having unmet mental health needs relative to non-Hispanic white youths. Although such racial/ethnic disparities are well-documented, less is known about the practical, attitudinal, cultural, and systemic factors that likely contribute to these disparities. Conducted in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, this project aims to (1) capitalize on the knowledge of relevant stakeholders to understand the factors that influence disparities and (2) to translate this knowledge into effective models for reducing disparities in unmet mental health need.

Children who come to the attention of the child welfare system are at heightened risk of developing a range of negative psychological, social, academic, and health outcomes. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), we are conducting a series of studies to answer fundamental questions about the adjustment of these children. For example, one study explores how the relationship between caregiver and child may protect children’s mental health over time, and how this relationship may in turn reduce placement instability for youth. Ongoing studies examine racial/ethnic disparities in mental health service use as well as mental health and academic trajectories of children in the child welfare system.