Sarah Elizabeth Neville, PhD

My name is Sarah Elizabeth Neville. I received my PhD from Boston College School of Social Work and I research global child welfare.

Current estimates suggest some 5 million children around the world live in residential care institutions, commonly known as orphanages.

When I was a teen, my parents internationally adopted two toddlers who had lived in orphanages and foster care, sparking a lifelong passion for finding ways to ensure children in low- and middle-income countries without adequate parental care can thrive in families.

My research interests are transdisciplinary and focused on all aspects of this issue, such as:

  • What are the effects of residential care institutions (a.k.a. orphanages) on children's well-being and development? How might the effects vary for children of different ages or for different types of institutions?

  • What about the effects of family reintegrationincluding reunification, local foster care, and international and domestic adoption?

  • How can interventions—like family strengthening, parenting education, economic assistance—support successful reintegration?

  • How can unnecessary family separation and institutionalization be prevented?

I have used quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods in my work, and am passionate about integrating participatory approaches into research.

I'd love to connect!