Wulfsohn is a senior field liaison and licensed clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience working alongside staff in the field to continually strengthen program implementation at all stages of the evidence-building cycle. Her work at MDRC focuses on listening to the voices of participants and practitioners, providing data-driven technical assistance to programs based on their priorities, and providing opportunities for them to reflect on their insights and changed practices. Her work has spanned a variety of human services systems serving families and children, including child welfare, fatherhood services, early care and education, infant mental health, home visiting, criminal justice, out-of-school programs, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. She brings to this work her coaching experience in a variety of mental health and human services settings; expertise in building learning communities and developing adult learning approaches; understanding of trauma-informed, equity-focused practice; knowledge of human-centered approaches; and ability to develop frameworks for supporting system change. Before working at MDRC, Wulfsohn developed and oversaw a statewide effort in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education to provide mental health coaching to home visiting programs (targeting children from birth through age 3), and prekindergarten programs throughout Illinois focused on enhancing the capabilities of early childhood professionals, building a workforce of mental health coaches statewide, and providing a model for scaling a statewide coaching effort within early childhood systems. Wulfsohn received an M.S. in human development and a Ph.D. in human development and school psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
MDRC PublicationsIssue Focus
Create Wellness Communities and Schedule Staff Celebrations to Boost Morale and Well-BeingMay, 2023
Many program managers are integrating self-care into their management strategies to address work-related stress. This post offers two group activities that managers can use to boost staff morale and promote well-being: wellness communities and monthly staff celebrations.Issue Focus
Use Self-Care Plans to Support Worker Well-BeingJanuary, 2023
An increased focus on staff well-being has been an unexpected benefit of the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. MDRC has helped program managers use a variety of tools to support their workers, including self-care plans that individuals can use to assess and address the stress of their jobs.Issue Focus
Can Pre-K Assessments Support Family Engagement in Early Learning Programs? Listening to Parent PerspectivesAugust, 2022
In this blog post originally published by New America, a diverse group of pre-K parents from around the country share their experiences with early learning assessments in childcare, pre-K, and Head Start settings.ToolkitDecember, 2021
This interactive guide and the accompanying, full toolkit are designed for school-based and community-based programs interested in implementing evidence-based early childhood curricula. The guide provides practical guidelines and tools for four stages of implementation.BriefOctober, 2020
More children spend time in preschool now than a decade ago, but not all of them get educational programs of the same quality. This brief explores how to put new classroom curricula in place across multiple schools to bolster classroom quality, instructional practices, and children’s skills.Methodology
Using Semistructured Interviews to Understand the Experiences of Families and Children Living in PovertyJune, 2020
Semistructured interviews involve an interviewer asking some prespecified, open-ended questions, with follow-up questions based on what the interviewee has to say. This Reflections on Methodology post describes a semistructured interview protocol recently used to explore how children who experience poverty perceive their situations, their economic status, and public benefit programs.Issue FocusApril, 2020
Programs across the country must adjust to working remotely while serving clients in the context of COVID-19, and it’s a challenge — especially if your work typically depends on in-person contact. Here are some tips to help run remote group meetings with staff, stakeholders, and participants in this uncertain, unsettling time.Issue FocusFebruary, 2020
One-time training rarely results in long-term shifts in working practices, but remote learning communities can help reinforce new lessons and promote lasting change. In this post, we explore how two MDRC programs use online, video conferencing and telephone connections to help participants across the country further their professional growth.Issue Focus
Upping Your Staff Training StrategyDecember, 2019
Diverse, complex training needs in many programs makes staff training an ongoing challenge. Managers may be responsible for orienting new staff, implementing new procedures, or facilitating steps toward long-term improvement, and one-time training is often inadequate. MDRC works with programs to establish a “Learn-Do-Reflect” model of collaboration, explored in this post.Issue Focus
Tips to Keep Participants Coming Back for MoreSeptember, 2019
In just seven seconds, most people form a first impression. For program participants, this initial encounter can mean the difference between signing up for services – or walking away. The September 2019 In Practice blog post offers tips for programs seeking to have an impact from the get-go.Issue Focus
Eight Steps to Full EnrollmentJune, 2019
The June post for MDRC’s operations web series, In Practice: Lessons for and from Practitioners, features eight steps to recruiting new participants in community improvement programs. MDRC field liaisons highlight tailored tips and practical advice to help staff members enroll new participants and maximize the full capacity of their programs.Brief
The Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) StudyApril, 2017
This practitioner brief describes three new approaches in the B3 evaluation of enhancements to Responsible Fatherhood programs: a cognitive behavioral workshop that builds skills for employment stability; Just Beginning, an interactive approach to high-quality parenting; and DadTime, a mobile app to encourage active participation by fathers with their children.
JoAnn Hsueh, Amena Sengal, Caroline Schultz, Emily Hanno, Ilana Blum, Katie Beal, Mallory Undestad, Marta Benito-Gomez, Meghan McCormick, Samantha Wulfsohn, Sharon Huang, Ximena Portilla, Brenna Healy
- Determining the ...
The Measures for Early Success Initiative aims to reimagine the landscape of early learning assessments for three- to five-year-olds in pre-K so that more equitable data can be used to meaningfully support and strengthen early learning experiences for all young children.Dina A. R. Israel, Xavier Alemañy, Rebecca Behrmann, Emily Brennan, Virginia Knox, Michelle S. Manno, Emily Marano, Meghan McCormick, Charles Michalopoulos, Frieda Molina, Diego Quezada, Keri West, Samantha Wulfsohn, Donna Wharton-Fields
Over the last three decades, MDRC has established itself as a leader in providing technical assistance to organizations that deliver services to fathers through such projects as Parents’ Fair Share,...Dina A. R. Israel, Frieda Molina, Donna Wharton-Fields, Samantha Wulfsohn, Stephanie Rubino, Diego Quezada
Since 2005, the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) programs have received funding from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance (OFA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to support services, as well as research and...
Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI): Examining the Quality-Child Outcomes Relationship in Child Care and Early EducationJoAnn Hsueh, Michelle Maier, Frieda Molina, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marie-Andrée Somers, Electra Small, Sharon Huang, Amena Sengal, Alexandra Bernardi, Marissa Strassberger, Noemi Altman, Ilana Blum, Ebony Scott, Margaret Hennessy, Mervett Hefyan, Mallory Undestad, Sharon Rowser, Amy Taub
The Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI): Examining the Quality-Child Outcomes Relationship in Child Care and Early Education project is a large-scale, rigorous study with several important aims and implications for current child care and early education policy and practices, including:Shira Kolnik Mattera, Desiree Principe Alderson, Tahsin Amin, Rebecca Davis, Carolyn Hill, Virginia Knox, Emily Pelles, Sydney Roach, Anne Warren, Samantha Wulfsohn
Children’s life prospects are substantially shaped by their circumstances between birth and age 3, so the earliest years of life present promising opportunities to disrupt cycles of poverty. Children growing up in families with low incomes acutely experience the disadvantages of poverty, and they disproportionately remain at the bottom of the economic ladder as adults...
Almost 42 percent of third-grade students in Philadelphia are reading at or above grade level — which means that about 58 percent are reading below that level. For elementary school students, reading proficiency is critical not only for doing well in school, but for remaining in school in the future. In response to this situation, the City of Philadelphia put forth the...Carolyn Hill, M. Victoria Quiroz Becerra, Stephanie Rubino, Samantha Wulfsohn, Gilda Azurdia, Marissa Strassberger
The official poverty rate for the U.S. population is high, at 13.5 percent, and the rate among children is higher still, at 19.7 percent. The body of research examining deep poverty, severe deprivation, and stress associated with poverty in adults has grown steadily with continued interest in recent years; however, qualitative research...Shira Kolnik Mattera, Sharon Huang, Seth Muzzy, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marissa Strassberger, Amena Sengal, Mirjana Pralica
The High 5s project is part of the Robin Hood Early Childhood Research Initiative, a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation focused on improving the life trajectories of low-income children in New York City. The Initiative’s first project, Making Pre-K Count...Dina A. R. Israel, Michelle S. Manno, Dan Bloom, JoAnn Hsueh, Charles Michalopoulos, Virginia Knox, Erika Lundquist, Electra Small, Rebecca Behrmann, Samantha Wulfsohn, Douglas Phillips, Patrizia Mancini, Emily Brennan, Jillian Verrillo, Bret Barden, Kureem Nugent
Fathers play a unique role in their children’s lives and development, but some fathers face personal or societal barriers to positive involvement with their children — such as low levels of education, stigma from criminal records, declining wages for low-skilled men, or family instability. Responsible Fatherhood programs aim to improve the well-being of low-income...Barbara S. Goldman, Sharon Huang, Shira Kolnik Mattera, Michelle Maier, Seth Muzzy, Electra Small, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marissa Strassberger, Amena Sengal, Mirjana Pralica, Samantha Xia, Cullen MacDowell
Making Pre-K Count is the result of a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation whose goal is to build evidence about ways to improve the life trajectories of children living in poverty in New York City. The partnership’s first project focuses on improving preschool children’s math skills.
Why math? Recent...