Cassandra Simmel is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. She served as the Founding Director of the MSW Certificate on Promoting Child and Adolescent Well-being (ChAP) and will serve as the Director of the PhD Program starting in 2023. She served as Interim Director of the Center on Violence Against Women and Children in 2014.  

Professor Simmel’s scholarship focuses on child welfare policies, programs, and services as well as the developmental outcomes associated with childhood trauma. Her work places particular emphasis on adolescents who are involved with or at risk of involvement with the child welfare system. In her research, she seeks to understand the intersection between mental health and child welfare systems. Her research has been funded by Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Jersey, Prevent Child Abuse of New Jersey, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Silberman Foundation. Her published work has appeared in journals such as Child MaltreatmentChild Abuse and Neglect, Children and Youth Services ReviewChild Development, Journal of Public Child Welfare, and Journal of Policy Practice

In addition, Dr. Simmel currently serves as a Senior Research Advisor on the Leadership Team at RTI for the grant award: Preliminary Activities to Support Future Data Collection for NSCAW (National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being). This project is funded by Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Between 2015-2020 she was a member of the Technical Work Group for NSCAW III. Dr. Simmel also served as a Research Consultant from 2013-2020 for a research project entitled Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement at Risk of Homelessness: Phase III (YARH-3), funded by the Children’s Bureau at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She is a member of the Social Policy Committee for the Society for Social Work and Research and is a former member of the Violence Prevention Alliance at the World Health Organization. 

Dr. Simmel recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Child Welfare entitled “Twenty Years after the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (‘Chafee’): What We Know Now About Meeting the Needs of Teens and Young Adults.”  She is on the editorial board for Developmental Child WelfareJournal of Public Child Welfare, and Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Prior to her position at Rutgers, she was a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Child Policy Research Fellow at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Dr. Simmel’s teaching focuses on child and youth policy, adolescent development, and adolescent mental health. She has earned two awards for her teaching (2010 & 2021). Dr. Simmel earned her MSW and PhD in social welfare and her BA in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Courses Taught

  • Advanced Contemporary Policy: Children and Youth
  • Adolescents: Risk & Resilience
  • Conceptual Foundations of Social Work and Social Welfare (Ph.D. seminar)
  • Growing Up on The Wire: Exploring Adolescents’ Lives in Urban Settings (Byrne First Year Seminar)

Selected Recent Publications

Simmel, C., Bowden, C., Neese Todd, S., Hyde, J., & Crystal, S. (2021). Antipsychotic treatment for youth in foster care: Perspectives on improving youths’ experiences in providing informed consent. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(2), 258-270.

Zhang, L., Nepomnyaschy, L., Simmel, C. (in press). So close yet so different: Neighborhood inequality and child maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect.

Zhang, L., Simmel, C., Nepomnyaschy, L. (in press). Neighborhood inequality and child maltreatment rates in US counties, 2009-2018. Child Abuse and Neglect.

Shpiegel, S., Simmel, C., Sapiro, B., & Ramirez Quiroz, S. (2021). Resilience among youth leaving foster care: Findings from the National Youth in Transition Database. Journal of Public Child Welfare

Mackie, T, I., Kovacs, K, Simmel, C., Crystal, S., Neese-Todd, S., Akincigil, A. (2020). A best-worst scaling experiment to identify patient-centered claims based outcomes for evaluation of pediatric antipsychotic monitoring programs. Health Services Research Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13610

Simmel, C. & Kelly, V. (2020). Special Foreword: Twenty years after the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (“Chafee”): What we know now about meeting the needs of teens and young adults. Special Issue of Child Welfare, Volume 97(5). vii-xvi.

Kelly, V. & Simmel, C. (2020). Current context of federal policy for teens involved in or transitioning out of foster care. Special Issue of Child Welfare, Volume 97(6), 287-296.

Simmel, C. & Shpiegel, S, (2020). Child Neglect and Emotional Maltreatment. In E. J. Mullen (Ed.). Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Sapiro, B., Johnson, L., Postmus, J. L., & Simmel, C. (2016). Supporting youth involved in domestic minor sex trafficking: divergent perspectives on youth agency. Child Abuse & Neglect, 58, 99-110.

Simmel, C., Merritt, D., Kim, H. M. S., & Kim, S. (2016). An exploratory study of neglect and emotional abuse in adolescents: Classifications of caregiver risk factors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-15.

Simmel, C., Merritt, D., Kim, S., & Kim, H. M. S. (2016). Developmental disabilities in children involved with child welfare: correlates of referrals for service provision. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 10(2), 197-214.

Shpiegel, S. & Simmel, C. (2016). Functional outcomes among sexual minority youth emancipating from the child welfare system. Children and Youth Services Review, 61(1), pp. 101-108.

Morton, C., Simmel, C., & Peterson, A. (2014). Neighborhood alcohol outlet density and rates of child abuse and neglect: Moderating effects of access to substance abuse services. Child Abuse and Neglect, 38, 952-961.