Shadi Houshyar Vice President, Child Welfare

Shadi serves as First Focus Campaign for Children's’ Vice President for Child Welfare Policy. She has experience working with families involved in the child welfare system and is particularly interested in identifying opportunities to address the health and behavioral health challenges of children and youth impacted by the child welfare system. Shadi is also director of the State Policy Advocacy & Reform Center (SPARC), a national resource center for state-based advocates, aimed at improving outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system by building the capacity of and connections between state child welfare advocates.  Shadi oversees a growing network of state-based child welfare advocates participating in SPARC and works collaboratively with state child welfare advocates to set SPARC’s agenda of issues and activities. 

Shadi received her PhD in developmental psychology from Yale University, where she worked with children who were maltreated, and concentrated her research on identifying factors that foster resiliency in children exposed to trauma. Shadi’s graduate research involved an evaluation of an intervention program in the state of Connecticut designed to minimize multiple placements, re-abuse, and re-entry into the child welfare system. Her research was recognized by awards from Division 37 of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Section on Maltreatment of Division 37 of APA, and the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. While at Yale, Shadi served as a Fellow of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. After graduating, Shadi went on to serve as a AAAS/SRCD Congressional Fellow in the Senate, working on education and health policy in the Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM). She has experience  in policy communications and government relations and served as a Senior Associate at Burness Communications - a communications firm working exclusively with non-profits and foundations in the health sector.

At First Focus Campaign for Children, she is leading our efforts on child welfare policy.

Resources by Shadi Houshyar


Letter Urging Review of Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Data

| February 3, 2015 |

A report by PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia calls into question the reliability of federal systems for the collection of child abuse


Supporting Overmedication Reform Initiative

| April 24, 2014 |

This letter, signed by 117 national and state organizations, urges congressional leadership to support President Obama’s FY15 budget proposal to allocate $750 million (over 5 years) to ACF/CMS to reduce the over-prescription of psychotropic medication to foster children. Children in foster care are four times as likely as other children to be prescribed medication to address their mental and behavioral health needs.


The Foster Children Opportunity Act: Guaranteeing a Bright Future for Foster Youth

| July 12, 2013 |

The Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 2036) seeks to ensure that abused and neglected immigrant children have an opportunity to obtain the legal immigrant status to which they are entitled prior to aging out of the foster care system. Introduced by Congressman Beto O’Rourke, the bill amends Title IV of the Social Security Act in order to require states to screen all undocumented immigrant children currently in the child welfare system for eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).


Strengthening our Mental Health System: The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act

| June 4, 2013 |

140455507.jpgEvents including the recent tragedy in Newtown have brought a sense of urgency and visibility to the need to improve and strengthen the mental health care
system for our nation’s children and youth. In response to Newtown, the Administration took on the charge of developing a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence in America – including improving services for the mentally


Protect Our Kids Act Testimony

| December 19, 2012 |

Testimony submitted in writing to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources, on legislation to create a commission to recommend reforms to reduce child fatalities.


First Focus Campaign for Children Statement on the Record, Hearing on the Medication of America’s Foster Children

| December 8, 2011 |

First Focus Campaign for Children submitted this statement for the record regarding the December 1, 2011 United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security hearing entitled “The Financial and Societal Costs of Medicating America’s Foster Children.”


The Foster Children Opportunity Act: Guaranteeing a Bright Future for Foster Youth

| November 3, 2011 |

It seems new and ever more frightening immigration-related news is surfacing daily. From calls to end birthright citizenship, to the recent crisis following passage


Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act Support

| August 3, 2011 |

The First Focus Campaign for Children has endorsed the Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act (S. 1509), introduced by Senator Wyden (D-OR). This endorsement letter accompanies a fact sheet outlining the constraints impost on states by current federal funding systems and the bill’s reforms to improve state flexibility and responsiveness.


Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act of 2011

| April 3, 2011 |

The First Focus Campaign for Children supports the Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act (S. 1509), introduced by Senator Wyden (D-OR). This fact sheet outlines the constraints impost on states by current federal funding systems and the bill’s reforms to improve state flexibility and responsiveness.


Advocates of Support to Senators Dodd and Casey for The Children’s Act of 2010

| December 10, 2010 |

Eighty-nine child advocacy groups signed on to a letter to Senator Dodd (D-CT) and Senator Casey (D-PA) in support of the Children’s Act of 2010 (S. 3968). This piece of legislation would establish a National Council on children which would function as a federal entity and annually assess the health, education, and overall well-being of our children.