Darcey Merritt

Darcey Merritt, PhD

She, her, hers

969 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Office Location: E16

Areas of Expertise
Child neglect and poverty
Child Protective Services: impacted, Black, financially disenfranchised mothers
Child Welfare System
Lived experiences of racially marginalized parents and children: impacted families enduring poverty
Parental decision-making in the context of low socio-economic status
Traumatic impacts related to racialized poverty and systems oversight
Other Affiliations

Affiliate, Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Darcey Merritt is a Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her empirical scholarship is meaningfully informed by her vast experience as a practitioner in private and public child welfare systems. Her research centers on child maltreatment prevention, specifically neglect, and parenting in socio-economic context, considering the impact of working memory on parental decision-making. She is dedicated to elevating the voices of systems-impacted parents and children in the discussion of prevention methods and service delivery in the context of systemic racism and racialized poverty.

Her research has been published in the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Race and Social Problems, Journal of Child and Family Studies, Child Welfare, Journal of Public Child Welfare, Journal of Orthopsychiatry, and Children and Youth Services Review, which she co-edits. Her articles primarily focus on child welfare service-impacted families and their perceived experiences while receiving services, contextual (e.g., neighborhood and psychosocial) indicators of well-being outcomes, the structural and systemic impact of child welfare oversight on parenting, children’s preferences and expectations for permanency while living in out of home placements, ways in which systemic racism manifests within child welfare system service delivery, and child developmental and well-being outcomes in the context of socio-behavioral, relational, and neighborhood level factors.

Social Intervention: Programs and Policies I

This two-quarter course introduces students to the issues and problems associated with social welfare interventions at the community, agency, and policy levels. Students...

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Children’s Bureau Champion Award for Advancing Equity
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Merritt, D.H., *Ludeke, R., *Patankar, K. U., *Mahachi, M., *Buck, M. (2022). “Racial Justice.” In Cynthia Franklin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Work. New York: Oxford University Press and National Association of Social Workers Press. DOI:

Detlaff, A., Boyd, R., Merritt, D., Plummer, A. & Simon, J. (2021). Racial Bias, Poverty, and the Notion of Evidence. Child Welfare, 99(3).

Merritt, D., *Ludeke, R., & Hudson, K. D. (2021). Parenting Amid Child Welfare Oversight: A Case Study of a Black Mother. Child Welfare.

Merritt, D.H. (2021). Documenting experiences and interactions with Child Protective Services. In J.T. Spartz & J. Siers-Poisson (Eds.), Preventing child maltreatment and neglect in the United States: Opportunities for Change, Focus on Poverty, 37(2), 3-10. Institute for Research on Poverty.

Merritt, D.H. (2021). How Do Families Experience and Interact with CPS? In K. Slack and L. Berger, Toward a Better Approach to Preventing, Identifying, and Addressing Child Maltreatment, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS). DOI:

Merritt, D.H. (2021). Lived Experiences of Racism among Child Welfare Involved Parents, Race and Social Problems. DOI:

Professor Darcey Merritt received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College with concentrations in sociology and psychology and earned her MSW and PhD in social welfare from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare.