Faculty member's research aims to improve the lives of families and children
- Alicia Carter
- Tuesday, August 10th, 2021
As a former Child Protective Services Worker, Austin Griffiths has first-hand knowledge of the challenges of child welfare work and the prevailing needs of children in South Central Kentucky.
An Assistant Professor in the WKU Department of Social Work and Director of the LifeSkills Center for Child Welfare Education and Research, Griffiths is involved in facilitating several key research projects that are dedicated to combating child maltreatment and improving the lives of families and children in Kentucky.
Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center’s Clinical Director Heather Webb and Assistant Professor in the WKU Department of Psychological Sciences Matt Woodward worked with Griffiths to develop the GIFT Initiative, Group Intervention for Families with Trauma, that seeks to eliminate generational trauma by providing evidence-based treatment to parents with children who have experienced maltreatment.
Griffiths is also working with Assistant Professor Kim Link and Assistant Professor Kara Haughtigan from the WKU School of Nursing and Allied Health to lead the Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative that uses advanced biometric technology to evaluate the related job stress of working in child welfare. Participants have the opportunity to develop tools and strategies to offset these challenges by participating in a mindfulness-based intervention led by Mindfulness Facilitator Alice Simpson and a team of co-facilitators at LifeSkills.
Additional plans are on the horizon for Griffiths and the LifeSkills Center for Child Welfare Education and Research including a collaborative effort with Assistant Professor in the WKU Department of Social Work Daniel Boamah, Associate Professor in the WKU Department of Social Work April Murphy, and Associate Professor in the WKU Department of Communication Disorders Kimberly Green to work with WKU’s XR Research Lab to use innovative virtual reality technology to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable child welfare system.
This summer, Griffiths helped secure a five-year partnership between LifeSkills Inc. and the WKU Child Welfare Education and Research Center, Kentucky’s first center for child welfare in the state of Kentucky.
“While the Center has been in existence here at WKU for two years, we have recently formalized a five-year partnership with the leadership team at LifeSkills, and we are very excited about the future,” said Griffiths. “This partnership will further support our diverse team of interdisciplinary professionals and provide us with resources to enhance our work with community agencies.”
For more information about the LifeSkills Center for Child Welfare Education and Research, visit https://www.wku.edu/childwelfare.