for Community-based Children & Family Mental Health
Who We Are
The Center within the Institute for Juvenile Research (IJR) conducts research to provide mental health services for children living in low-income urban areas.
Using a public health approach to mental health the Center aims to provide interventions everywhere children live, learn & play.
Dr. Atkins has a long-standing interest in the development of effective mental health services for children and families living in high poverty urban communities, and is an active researcher in the areas of childhood ADHD and aggression, and community mental health services for children and families. He is a frequent consultant to national and international organizations and currently serves on two national boards, as Secretary of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, and as Past-President of the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (APA Division 53).
Tara G. Mehta received her Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology in 2005 from the University of Denver and an M.S. in Development Psychology in 1995 from the Pennsylvania State University at College Park, PA. Dr. Mehta was a National Institute of Drug Abuse Post-doctoral Fellow in Prevention Research from 2006-2009, before accepting a faculty position at IJR.
Her research includes the development of effective and efficient systems to support the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices in community-based mental health service settings and examining accessible, effective, and sustainable,community-based models of mental health service delivery for children and families living in urban poverty. Dr. Mehta is also interested in developing and examining culturally appropriate mental health services models for Asian American children and families.
Dr. Mehta is a Co-Investigator, and Project Director, on an NIMH-funded Developing Center for Innovation in Services and Intervention Research Grant through which she assists on a study examining associations among teacher and student reports of climate, classroom practices, and student outcomes. She is also the Co-investigator of a 5-year, NIMH R01 grant entitled Mental Health Services and Predictors of Learning in Urban Schools. This grant examines a model for school-based mental health services for urban low income students in which community mental health providers work collaboratively with lead teachers and parent advocates in their use of evidence-based practices around classroom management, effective instruction, and family outreach. The underlying theme of Dr. Mehta’s work is to expand the role of mental health providers to support children and families in community settings and to support the use of evidence based practices with underserved communities.
Dr. Rusch has an overarching interest in addressing mental health disparities among ethnic minority youth and families living in urban poverty. Her specific program of research focuses on meeting the mental health needs of youth from Latino immigrant families, with attention to ecological context in the design and implementation of mental health service models. This research aims to build upon community resources and workforce strengths through collaborative partnerships with non-specialty settings (e.g., schools, community-based organizations, after-school programs) and the non-traditional providers that play a critical role in family engagement and advocacy. Through her efforts to design relevant and sustainable mental health services, Dr. Rusch has collaborated with the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, and various community-based organizations serving Latino/immigrant families throughout the city.
Dr. Rusch received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University (1999) and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2011). She completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship in Child Clinical and Pediatric Psychology at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (2008-2009) and continued her postdoctoral training at IJR with Dr. Atkins’ team at the Center for Community-Based Children’s Mental Health Research and Policy . From 2009-2013, she also served as Project Director for an NIMH-funded R01 (PI: S. Frazier) that examined the role of organizational social context on children’s mental health promotion through after-school program participation.
Dr. Maríñez-Lora received her Ph.D. in School Psychology with a minor in immigrant children and families from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in child psychology at Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital Boston. Her research interests and activities focus on the provision of mental health services, cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions, caregiver strain, and clinicians’ use of evidence-based practices. She was co-investigator on an NIMH funded grant testing a school-based mental health services model in Chicago Public Schools. She recently finished a small NIMH-funded research project studying the relationship among the variables of social support, caregiver strain and parents’ decision to access and continue services for their children diagnosed with a disruptive behavior disorder. She is currently co-investigator on an IES-funded grant testing the feasibility of a service model for early career teachers in urban low-income schools. In 2009 she received a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) from NIMH to support her transition from clinical work to applied clinical research in the areas of services and intervention research with Latino immigrant children and their families.