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Mark Testa

Sandra Reeves Spears and John B. Turner Distinguished Professor

Mark Testa


Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building

Suite 245-E

325 Pittsboro Street

Chapel Hill, NC 27599

O: 919-962-6496

M: 773-540-0456

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Mark Testa is the Sandra Reeves Spears and John B. Turner Distinguished Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previously he was a Professor at the University of Illinois and Director of the Children and Family Research Center, an independent research organization created jointly by the University and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). From 1994 to 2002, he held a joint appointment at the University of Chicago (1994-1999) and the University of Illinois (1999-2002) as Research Director of the Illinois DCFS.

Currently, he is the Principal Investigator for the evaluation of Safe Families for Children funded by the Arnold Foundation and a co-investigator with RTI for the Third National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. He is also the Governor’s appointed member of the Permanency Innovations Oversight Committee of the North Carolina General Assembly and member of the Expert Panel appointed under the B.H. Consent Decree by the federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

Professor Testa has received awards for his scholarship and public engagement, including the 2017 Social Policy Award from the Society for Social Work and Research, 2006 Angel in Adoption from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for Applied Scholarship and Research on kinship care and permanence. In 2018, he was elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare.

Degrees and Licenses

Ph.D., University of Chicago
MA, University of Chicago
BA, Wesleyan University

Primary Program

Building Evidence in Child Welfare Program

Research and Professional Interests

Kinship Care, Adoption, and Guardianship
Child and Family Policy
Class-Action Litigation and Consent Decrees
Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research

Principal Investigator

Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trial of the Safe Families for Children (SFC) Program


Third National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW-III)

Other Projects

National Quality Improvement Center on Adoption/Guardianship Support and Preservation

Presentations, Workshops and Media

August, 2019.Practical applications of a framework to design, test, spread, and sustain effective practice in child welfare, Presentation at the 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit, Washington, DC.

June, 2019. Preparing students for tomorrow’s grand challenges: Family, school, and community at mid-21st century. Public lecture at the 225 year celebration of the founding of Cheshire Academy, Cheshire, CT.

May, 2019. Supporting the alternative care of children by relatives. Public lecture at the 1st Annual Child Welfare Summit on Diligent Recruitment and Retention and Post-Permanency Support, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Raleigh NC.

January, 2019. Longitudinal examination of post adoption outcomes: An examination of eight states. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research 23nd Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.

May, 2018. Every child deserves a permanent home: The Permanency Innovations Initiative. Paper presented at The Future of Children Conference: Beyond Abuse and Neglect: Universal Approaches to Promoting Healthy Development in the First Years of Life. Princeton University, New Jersey.


SOWO 510

Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice and Program Evaluation



SOWO 739

Child Welfare Policy Practice and Advocacy