Research and Grants

Human Services faculty and staff conducts and develops scholarly research aimed at improving success in both the academic and South Florida communities. The department continuously seeks to collaborate with schools and other community agencies.

Substance Abuse and Health Disparities

Preparing Foster Care to Support Individuals with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Principle Investigator: Susan Kabot, Ed.D., CCC-SLP

Investigators: Maribel Del Rio-Roberts, Psy.D., Jacob Connolly, M.S.

Contact: Maribel Del Rio-Roberts, Psy.D.

Autism Grant

Funded through an NSU Presidential Grant. Agreement among measures of autism spectrum disorders in school-age children. Quantitative study to examine concordance and discordance rates among 4 measures of ASD in school-age children. The study will also attempt to delineate which specific measures are more clinically useful in predicting high- or low-functioning ASD in school-age children.

Contact: Dr. Barbara Garcia-Lavin.

A Program Evaluation of the Summer Supported Training & Employment Program (STEPS)

Funded by an NSU Quality of Life grant. This project is a formal program evaluation of the Summer Supported Training & Employment Program (STEPS). The Summer Supported Training & Employment Program (STEPS) funded by the Children's Services Council (CSC) of Broward County was established to prepare students with disabilities in the transition process to enter the workforce after graduation by providing them with jobs in a variety of locations throughout Broward County. The program evaluation is being conducted in partnership with CSC in order to determine whether STEPS is successfully preparing students to obtain and sustain employment after graduation. In addition, NSU will evaluate the impact that the program has on its participants' overall quality of life and ability to function independently.

Contact: Dr. Maribel Del Rio-Roberts.

Employability Skills Group for Adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS)

Funded by an NSU President's Research and Development Grant. The goal of the proposed study is to implement an employability skills group that will blend cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as direct instruction, modeling, role-play, performance feedback, and reinforcement, which have been found to be effective in improving social functioning in individuals with AS and high-functioning ASD. A mixed-methods approach will be used to investigate the effectiveness of this program in increasing work-related autonomy and improving the quality of life of adults with AS.

Contact: Maribel Del Rio-Roberts.

ACT with Wisdom: Utilizing a Group Model of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Increase the Level of Psychological Resilience in Older Adults

Principle Investigator: Jacquelyn Browne, Ph.D., LCSW

Investigators: Blaise Amendolace, Psy.D., Claudia Martinez, B.B.A

Contact: Jacquelyn Browne, Ph.D., LCSW

Project Train the Trainer

Funded through an NSU Quality of Life grant. 'Leaving a Legacy: a unique approach to community engagement for older adults' (an example of a program evaluation).

This pilot project is an outgrowth of a Quality of Life grant that engaged older adults in a process of self-exploration and community service. 'Train the Trainer' is being offered in the City of Coral Springs for 9 weeks. A Manual was created and is being piloted with a variety of adult leaders who will then offer the program to members of the Coral Springs community.

The purpose of the project is to support the City of Coral Springs in its designation as a Community for a Lifetime (C.F.A.L.). The trainers will be able to facilitate a 10 week course, guiding the creation of meaningful opportunities for older adults to explore the second half of life in which inner abilities can be linked to community projects.

Contact: Dr. Jacquelyn Browne.

When Obama Became President: Meanings of Aging in a Time of Paradigm Shifts

Funded by an NSU Quality of Life grant.

Barak Obama's election heralded a sense of change and possibility in a time of economic, social, and global crises. Within this harsh economic climate, the experience of aging contains its own shifting grounds. Entitlement programs and savings, meanings of retirement, leisure, and work have been and will be affected by the current state of the US economy. This qualitative study aims to explore what it means to be an older adult in these changing times.

Contact: Dr. Jacquelyn Browne.

Project Aging Out

Funded through an NSU Quality of Life grant. Single subject qualitative design to identify transitional barriers to accessing post-high-school education for adolescents in foster care.

Contacts: Drs. Denise Crammer-Turner, James Pann, Ron Cugno, and Kathy Thomas.

A Case Study of a Pre-Placement Emergency Respite and Assessment Facility for Children in the Child Welfare System

 Jointly funded by ChildNet and NSU.  A collective case study approach will be used to examine SafePlace, an emergency respite and assessment facility for children within the child welfare system.  Specifically, this approach will be used to gather in-depth information on multiple aspects of the program, including the factors influencing participants’ experience of SafePlace and continued care of children and families as they progress through the child welfare system.

Contact: Dr. Angela Yehl

Application of a Bioterrorism and All Hazards Preparedness Training Program for Individuals Working with the Homeless

This ongoing project, funded by Nova Southeastern University's Abraham S. Fischler School of Education, seeks to understand and evaluate the effectiveness of a Bioterrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness training program for individuals that work with the homeless population. Specifically, we are examining the effects of a training course in Basic Awareness of Bioterrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness designed to provide competence and confidence to those who may provide services to homeless individuals during emergency situations. The program was developed by Nova Southeastern University's Center for Bioterrorism and All-Hazard Preparedness (CBAP) and has already been successfully implemented to 45 health care disciplines and first responders in 48 states and 13 foreign countries. Participation in the study has been made available to all staff and supervisors that are employed at the Broward Outreach Homeless Assistance. Participants completed a pre and post content evaluation that was designed by Nova Southeastern University's Center for Bioterrorism and All-Hazard Preparedness (CBAP) and took part in a 1hour brief focus group to discuss their thoughts and reactions about the intervention as a way to obtain information regarding changes that can be made for successful future trainings. Participants will complete a six month follow-up evaluation in March, 2010.

Contact: Dr. Timothy Scala.

COATCH (Collaborative Outreach Assessment/Treatment for Co-Occurring Homeless)

Funded through a 5-year, federally funded grant. Examining effects of an intensive case management program for individuals who are co-occurring homeless and substance abusers

Contacts: Dr. Marcelo Castro and Dr. Alex Edmonds.

Case Management: Effectiveness of Case Manager Training Program for Working with the Homeless

This study will examine a 12 month program of biweekly training workshops for case managers and supervisors in the Broward County Human Services Department, Homeless Services Division. Topics that will be covered in the workshops include professional development, best practices in case management, working with clients with mental health and substance abuse issues, and working effectively with the homeless. The effectiveness of the program will be measured by ratings of job satisfaction, job knowledge, and the amount of turnover.

Contact: Dr. Terri Mortensen.

Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO)

Funded through an NSU Quality of Life grant. Needs Assessment of the Mentally Ill Involved in the Broward County Criminal Justice System (an example of mixed method study/program evaluation. A recent Department of Justice report indicated that more than 50% of people in jails and prisons across the nation have been treated for a mental illness and/or substance abuse problem prior to their being detained. This represents an increase from approximately 20% mentally ill inmates estimated only several years earlier. The incarceration of people with serious mental health needs accused of committing a crime in Broward County, Florida is not very different from those around the country although some studies suggest that Florida may even be higher than the national average.

The current project, an NSU Quality of Life grant funded by the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO), the nation's largest full service public safety agency, attempts to address this issue by conducting a needs assessment of the mentally ill involved in the criminal justice system in Broward County as well as of the systems of care that serve these individuals. Specifically, this project identified and interviewed key personnel in the judicial and mental health systems in Broward County in order to: (a) to identify best practices in providing services for the mentally ill in the criminal justice system; (b) ascertain the needs of individuals with a mental illness involved in the judicial system; (c) to identify the needs of the organization and of the mental health and judicial systems towards meeting these best practices; (d) provide recommendations regarding changes to the social services and judicial systems in Broward County. The resultant data were analyzed using an appropriate qualitative methodology in order to identify themes and patterns. In addition, a review of the best practices research literature in this area was conducted and incorporated into a report along with the interview findings.

Contact: Dr. James Pann.

Freedom Project

Co-Principal Investigators: Dr. Lenore Walker & Dr. James Pann

Freedom Project, which is a direct offshoot of the FY2008 QOL project, 'Needs Assessment of the Mentally Ill Involved in Broward County' was featured in a recent Sun Sentinel article 'A home, not jail, for now:? 'Freedom Project' helps mentally ill homeless.' Dr.'s Pann and Walker have contracted with Henderson Mental Health Center to provide assessment services to individuals in the criminal justice system. Featured in Broward County's Sun Sentinel, November 29, 2009.

Needs Assessment of Healthcare Services in Fire Rescue Response Calls

The Fire Rescue project seeks to understand and evaluate needs of fire rescue personnel, based on the types of mental health or emotional/behavioral services they often encounter on emergency calls.

Specifically, this study will attempt to identify common challenges encountered by the Pompano Beach Fire Rescue Department personnel when dealing with emergency calls involving mental health and social services issues. Archival data are being reviewed to determine the percentage of social services, mental health, or emotional/behavioral related emergency calls received by fire rescue personnel. Information gathered from this study will be used to determine the most effective best practice model that can be implemented to address these calls.

Contact: Dr. Terri Mortensen.

Project RISE (Research, Inspiration, Support, Evaluation)

Is a Trust-Funded quality improvement initiative designed to enhance the quality of Trust-Funded out-of-school care programs for school-age youths in Miami-Dade County. The project's mission, through evaluation and training, is to raise the quality of care in ways that improve children's health and safety, promote academic success, and enhance their social and emotional development.

Contact: Dr. Alex Edmonds.

Evaluation of a Holistic Program for Military Service Members and their Families

Principal Investigator: Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

Investigators: Elda Kanzki-Veloso, Ph.D., Timothy Scala, Psy.D., C.F.C., James Pann, Ph.D., Marcelo Castro, Ph.D., Stephen Messer, Ph.D., Jacob Connoly, M.S., and Blake Michael Benson, B.S.

Contact: Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

Understanding the Post-Deployment Experiences of OEF/OIF Marine Corps Veterans: A Phenomenological Study

Principle Investigator: Elda Kanzki-Veloso, Ph.D.

Investigators: Angela Yehl, Psy.D., James Pann, Ph.D., Marcelo Castro, Ph.D., Maribel Del Rio-Roberts, Psy.D., Jacob Connolly, M.S., and Blake Michael Benson, B.S.

Contact: Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

VA Grant

Funded through an NSU Quality of Life grant. The Study will aim to reduce mental health issues and improve veteran access to care by providing "wraparound" services to military veteran participants, who have tested positive for PTSD. The participant and his/her family will receive wraparound intensive case management and mental health services, to include individual, family/marital, and group therapy. The wraparound program will also include the use of a peer mentor to provide guidance and support, in order to reduce stigma and encourage the participant to access needed services.

Contact: Dr. Elda Kanzki-Veloso.

Returning Veterans Assistance Center for Excellence Program. United Way RFP FY 2011 Community Impact Area: Health (Grant Funded)

Principle investigators: Kimberly Durham, Psy.D. and Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

Investigators: Timothy Scala, Psy.D., Denise Crammer, Psy.D.

For more information, contact: Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

Program Evaluation of United Way of Broward County’s Mission United

Funded by United Way of Broward County.  A program evaluation will be conducted of Mission United, a program supporting US military service members, veterans and their families in Broward County by helping them re-acclimate to civilian life. Key focus areas include employment, education, health, legal assistance, emergency financial aid, and housing.

Contact: Angela Yehl, Psy.D.

Study of Armed Encounters of Law Enforcement Officers in Broward County, Florida

In an effort to ensure that the tactical training that Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) provides is addressing the most current issues, the agency performs an annual review of the reports of officers killed in the line of duty. The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS) at BSO reviews the common factors in each case with both the officers and the suspects and this information is presented to the agency during phase 3 of in – service training. This data allows the agency to provide training that is current and relevant to threats that face law enforcement.  While this information is extremely valuable and pertinent, the agency is unable to capture a lot of information that could certainly provide an even more detailed picture of how law enforcement officers respond to armed threats. Currently, no all encompassing report exist detailing information of armed encounters not resulting in an officer fatality. Information on encounters when officers survive, hit suspects, or fires their weapons without hitting suspects is non existent. The purposes of the present study are twofold: (1) to identify factors that influence the life or death outcome of law enforcement officer encounters with civilians in Broward County, and (2) to disseminatethese findings and their implications to training officers and their trainees to improve law officer training in the municipalities of Broward County. This study proposes to undertake a comprehensive analysis of armed encounters of law enforcement officers in Broward County for the past 10 years to incorporatedata for both officer fatality and officer survival when a weapon is discharged.  The study will also provide current training information on armed encounters and will be beneficial not only to BSO but other law enforcement agencies in the state and across the nation that will be able to determine whether their training addresses crucial information.

Principle Investigator: Tammy Kushner, Psy.D.

Investigators: Marguerite Bryan, Ph.D, Leslie Taylor, Ph.D., Zack Scott, Deputy

For more information, contact Tammy Kushner, Psy.D.


Connect with NSU on:

  • facebook
  • YouTube
  • MySpace.com
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • LinkedIn
  • Foursquare