May 13, 2020
Sandra Barrueco headshot

The work of Professor Sandra Barrueco, director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, continues to attract praise and financial support.

Barrueco has been awarded Spencer Foundation funding for a project in collaboration with the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.

Their project, one of five selected from nearly 150 applicants, builds upon a nationally representative study of migrant families, the first of its kind, that Barrueco co-directed. Catholic University’s portion of the award is about $96,000, roughly a quarter of the total amount of about $372,000.

"We are thrilled to receive this funding,” Barrueco said. “It will allow us to continue to do the kind of work with migrant and seasonal farmworker families that is critical to improving national practices and policies for this important community."

Professor Barrueco has traveled the country to work with immigrant children and families, conducting psychological research, assessment, and intervention as well as formulating policy recommendations. One of her policy briefs, on how schools and early intervention programs do outreach to immigrant families, is frequently referenced, and her research was cited in the creation of national standards for diagnosing bilingual children.

Immigrant families are often subject to stress both in their country of origin and on the journey out. And in their destination country, they frequently struggle with discrimination, poverty, and separation from family members. These stresses can take an even greater toll on the descendants of immigrants.

“People think that the first immigrants are the ones who face the most challenges, but actually it’s the next generations after that,” Barrueco said. “Those children start to have more mental health issues, and more health outcome issues in general. Not all immigrant families are suffering, but a good deal are. How can we intervene?”

The Spencer Foundation is focused on improving education with the ultimate aim of creating a better society. NORC provides governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses with data to guide their policy deliberations.

“We are extremely proud of the work of Sandra Barrueco, who continues to attract national attention as evidenced by this very competitive award from the Spencer Foundation,” said David Walsh, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “Her focus on the children of immigrants is both an act of service and an impressive contribution to the long term well-being of immigrants, their children, and the nation that welcomes them."

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