Dr. Cynthia Osborne Named CHASP Director


One of the country’s foremost child and family policy researchers, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Professor and director of the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named director of the LBJ School’s Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP).  Former director, Professor Carolyn Heinrich, University of Vanderbilt, will continue her affiliation with CHASP as a Research Professor.

“I am very pleased that Cynthia is taking on the leadership of CHASP,” said LBJ School interim dean Robert Wilson. “A dynamic and innovative scholar and teacher, Dr. Osborne will enhance a rapidly expanding research agenda within CHASP, applying innovative social science based research to evaluate social programs.”

“I’m delighted to be the new director of CHASP,” said Osborne. “I look forward to continuing my work with my colleagues as we aim to answer the pressing social policy questions of our day and improve the well being of the poor and vulnerable through effective policy research. Our collective goal is to be a resource to decision makers, an anchor to students and alumni, a convener of experts, and a megaphone for the important research conducted by our tremendous students and faculty research associates.”

Dr. Osborne specializes in policies regarding strengthening families, fatherhood, early childhood interventions, child welfare, and adolescent health under her research group, CFRP. She is the Primary Investigator on numerous program evaluations, including the long-term evaluation project of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Home Visiting Program. She also directed the Project on Education Effectiveness and Quality (PEEQ), a statewide project for the Texas Education Agency.

Dr. Osborne currently serves as Chair of the Responsible Fatherhood working group for the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, a long-term project of the federal Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. She oversees The University of Texas at Austin’s institutional membership of the University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium. She also serves on the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Policy Council, the leadership team responsible for setting policy and strategy for the association.

Dr. Osborne joined the faculty of the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2005 after completing a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University. She holds a Ph.D. in Demography and Public Affairs from Princeton University, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Masters of Arts in Education. Previously, Dr. Osborne taught middle school in a low-income community in California.

CHASP faculty research associates include: Todd Olmstead and David Warner, who are experts in health policy and health care funding; Michele Deitch, who specializes in criminal justice policy, with a particular interest in juvenile justice; Jacqui Angel, who is a leader in aging policy, especially as it relates to Hispanic and immigrant families; Paul von Hippel, who is an expert in research design, statistical methods, and education and health policy; Pat Wong, who is a poverty and social policy expert; Erin Lentz who is a leading scholar in food insecurity in the US and abroad, and Angela Evans, who is the leading expert on ensuring evidence-based policy informs decision makers. Joining CHASP next year will be Abigail Aiken, who specializes in women’s fertility and reproductive health.

For further information contact:
Susan Binford, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Wendy Gonzales, CHASP and CFRP

Michele Deitch Appointed to Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice


CHASP faculty research associate Michele Deitch was recently appointed to the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the research arm of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).  She was appointed by NCJFCJ President Judge Byrne and is one of only two academics on this national board.

The National Center for Juvenile Justice is the premiere and oldest juvenile justice research group in the country. It produces objective, factual information and provides technical assistance to professionals and policymakers.  Professor Deitch’s role on the Board of Fellows is to provide oversight of the Center’s work, and to ensure the research and data collection conducted by the Center meets the needs of policymakers, practitioners, and researchers.

Prof. Deitch specializes in criminal and juvenile justice policy issues and has most recently received national attention for her expertise regarding jail safety issues in the wake of the Sandra Bland case.

Below are some of her contributions in current news:

Click here for more about Prof. Deitch.

For more information, contact: Susan Binford, LBJ School of Public Affairs, 512-415-4820.


New Analysis by Lincove and Osborne on the Diverse Market for Teacher Preparation


CHASP faculty research associate Cynthia Osborne and former CHASP associate Jane Lincove’s analysis on the diverse market for teach preparation was just published in Journal of Teacher Education. The article, co-authored with former LBJ staff researchers, Nick Mills and Laura Bellows, is titled Teacher Preparation for Profit or Prestige: Analysis of a Diverse Market for Teacher Preparation.

Pulled from the article:

After decades of decentralization, Texas has the largest and most diverse teacher training market in the United States. In Texas, future teachers can choose from more than 200 programs housed at more than 150 institutions including large research universities, community colleges, local education agencies (LEAs), for-profit start-ups, and mission-driven nonprofits. Program scope ranges from highly specialized programs designed to fill specific vacancies in hard-to-staff schools to online programs with the flexibility to operate statewide.

This diversity in teacher preparation programs (TPPs) foreshadows national policy trends. Traditional university-based programs face increasing competition from a growing market of start-ups.

Concerns about the quality of these start-ups, along with criticism of traditional university-based teacher education programs, have prompted calls for higher standards and greater accountability.

This article examines these research questions:

  • Research Question 1: Are there measurable differences in performance for students of recently certified teachers based on organizational or market characteristics of the teacher’s TPP?
  • Research Question 2: Are these student outcome differences explained by teacher selection into TPPs or teaching assignments?
  • Research Question 3: Are there differential effects of TPP type on high-need students and schools?
  • Research Question 4: Do TPP effects converge as teachers gain classroom experience?

Click for the abstract, full text, and PDF.

Paul von Hippel Finds Texas’ $37 Million PE Program Did Little to Reduce Obesity

Paul von Hippel


Paul von Hippel, CHASP faculty research associate and LBJ Assistant Professor, conducted the largest study ever of a physical education (PE) program and recently had the findings published in peer-reviewed journal, Preventative Medicine: The effects of school physical education grants on obesity, fitness, and academic achievement.

Physical education programs have long been funded by governments and foundations, however, the effects of these programs are unknown.

von Hippel and former graduate student Kyle Bradbury analyzed PE program, Texas Fitness Now, a program that received $37 million from the State of Texas. The program targeted high-poverty middle schools with the aim of reducing obesity, increasing fitness, and raising academic achievement through improved physical education during a four year period.

Texas Fitness Now was funded by the state Legislature starting with the 2007‐08 school year. It ended after four years, in 2011, amid legislative budget cuts.

“The state launched this program with limited evidence that it could reduce obesity and continued and then discontinued the program without much evidence of whether it was working or not,” said Dr. von Hippel.

The Austin‐based St. David’s Foundation funded the research, which drew from publicly available records, including some that the researchers obtained under the Texas Public Information Act.

“While the results may not be what we all would have hoped for, many middle schools in some of the poorest areas of our state were able to acquire needed fitness equipment,” Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said in a statement. “In addition, this UT study does acknowledge increases in fitness for middle school boys and girls, which may result in better health practices in the future.”

The UT researchers analyzed obesity rates at more than 1,150 middle schools enrolling more than 770,000 students per year. The schools spent most of the $37 million in state grants on sports gear and fitness equipment.

Von Hippel said various studies have shown that programs combining physical activity with a diet component have better results in reducing obesity. Nutrition was a relatively minor aspect of Texas Fitness Now, with 25 percent of funds required to be spent on nutrition. The requirement was not enforced, and only 7 percent was spent on nutrition in the 2009‐10 school year, the researchers found.

The program improved flexibility and strength, especially among girls. And although the state’s guidelines predicted that the program would boost academic achievement through improved cognitive ability, the grants on average had no effect on math.

Media coverage:

For more information, contact: Susan Binford, LBJ School of Public Affairs, 512-415-4820.

Walter Moreau, Executive Director of Foundation Communities, to speak at 2015 CHASP/SHEP Student-Alumni Mixer

The Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP)


Social, Health, and Economic Policymakers (SHEP)

are pleased to invite you to the 

2015 CHASP/SHEP Student-Alumni Mixer

On Thursday March 26, join CHASP and SHEP for our fourth-annual evening of food, drink, and conversation at the AT&T Conference Center Tejas Dining Room. This annual tradition is a special opportunity for LBJ School students, alumni, faculty, and staff interested in social and health policy to connect. 

LBJ students at 2014 MixerProf. King and AlumsProf. Osborne & AlumsAlums & TowerAlum-Student 2014 Mixer

This year our distinguished alumni speaker for the 2015 Mixer will be Walter Moreau, MPAff 1994 and the Executive Director of Foundation Communities.

Walter Moreau headshot

In his role at Foundation Communities, Walter Moreau works in Texas to create affordable housing where families succeed. During his 25 year career he has secured subsidy financing of more than $200 million to create more than 3,500 units of service-enriched, nonprofit-owned affordable housing. FC operates ten onsite learning centers, five supportive housing communities for the homeless, and is the largest private producer of solar power in Central Texas. FC provided short and long term housing to over 400 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. Walter led FC to develop the Community Tax Centers and Insure Central Texas, which serve over 25,000 families each year.

Moreau received the JAJ Fannie Mae Fellowship in 2007, and the Texas Houser Award in 2004. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (1994).


Come hear from this accomplished LBJ alum, catch up with your classmates and professors, and meet some new friends too.  All attendees are invited to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a first cocktail on us. All LBJ students, alumni, faculty, and staff with an interest in health, social, or economic policy are welcome!

RSVP required: Please go to this link to confirm your attendance: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2015-chaspshep-student-alumni-mixer-tickets-15758340621.


Seton and CHASP launch seven new research collaborations

SHF logo_ALT_2  CHASP logologolbj2010

Can medical providers get diabetics to better take care of themselves with a more comprehensive educational approach?

How many injured patients come into emergency rooms not knowing they also suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)? Can they be screened to address their needs sooner – before their PTSD symptoms worsen?

Can therapists keep youths from dropping out of behavioral health treatment programs by using new electronic measurement systems?

How are physicians managing electronic health records – and how many of them are inadvertently creating more work for themselves by continuing to handwrite notes about their patients?

These questions and many more will be addressed in seven new health care research studies aimed at resolving critical health and health care services delivery problems in Central Texas. Seton has granted approximately $300,000 for the studies involving physicians, faculty members and other researchers in this first round of a new partnership with the LBJ School and CHASP.

A range of university-based organizations are involved in this first phase of funding, including the UT Departments of Educational Psychology, Organizational Communication & Technology, Computer Science, Economics and Kinesiology & Health Education; the UT Schools of Information, Social Work, Nursing and Public Affairs and the College of Pharmacy; and the Center for Health Communication and the Center for Identity. Also included are the Texas Child Study Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Other partners in the studies include Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, and the Community Care Collaborative, a unique and ambitious integrated delivery system for Travis County residents living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

“This new research partnership recognizes that our most critical health and health care services delivery problems will only be resolved by bringing together medical and social scientists, along with those based in the community who grapple with these challenges on a daily basis,” said Carolyn J. Heinrich, the Sid Richardson Professor of Public Affairs, affiliated professor of economics and CHASP director at the LBJ School. “We expect that the proposals selected for funding in this first round will make substantial contributions to the health of the community and help us to significantly improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care services.”

“Construction of UT’s new Dell Medical School finishes next year, but we’re already fostering high-quality research involving UT faculty and our medical professionals,” said Ryan Leslie, Seton’s vice president for academics and research. “Ultimately, these studies can lead to better care that is sensitive to each patient’s expectations — what we at Seton call Humancare — and further build a long-term, medical research partnership between UT and Seton.”

The new studies are as follows:

  • Improving Youth Behavioral Health Outcomes: A Feasibility Trial of Electronic Measurement Feedback and Flexible, Evidence-Based Training. Principal investigator (PI) is Sarah Kate Bearman, assistant professor with UT’s Department of Educational Psychology. Co-PIs are David Heckler, psychologist with the Texas Child Study Center at Dell Children’s, a Seton hospital; and Jane Gray, director of psychology training at the Texas Child Study Center.
  • Understanding How Human, Communication and Technology Factors Influence Effective and Efficient Electronic Heath Records (EHRs) Use. The PI is Dr. Brenda L. Berkelaar, assistant professor in organizational communication and technology and affiliated faculty with UT’s Center for Health Communication and Center for Identity. Co-PI is Dr. Jay M. Bernhardt, founding director of the Center for Health Communication and a professor of communication studies at UT.
  • Impacting Acute Trauma: Does a Brief Preventive Intervention Affect PTSD Outcomes? PIs are Dr. Ben Coopwood, director of surgical critical care at UMC Brackenridge; and Stacey Stevens Manser, associate director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health in the UT School of Social Work.
  • Manual and Automatic Analysis of Patients’ Values and Preferences Using Seton Hospital Consumer Assessment for Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Surveys. PIs are Drs. Kenneth R. Fleischmann, associate professor with UT’s School of Information; Bo Xie, associate professor with UT’s School of Nursing and School of Information; and Byron C. Wallace, assistant professor with UT’s School of Information and Department of Computer Science.
  • Incorporating Resilience-Based Diabetes Self-Management Education into the Group Medical Appointment for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. The community partner is Dr. Deborah Morris-Harris, CommUnityCare’s chief medical officer. The PI is Professor Mary Steinhardt with Health Behavior & Health Education, Department of Kinesiology & Health Education in UT’s College of Education. Co-PIs are Dr. Susan K. Dubois, medical director with the Family Wellness Center in UT’s School of Nursing; Sharon A. Brown, the Joseph H. Blades Centennial Memorial Professor of Nursing in UT’s School of Nursing; and Hiro Tanaka, exercise physiology professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Education in UT’s College of Education.
  • Evaluation of Seton Healthcare Family’s “High Alert Program” (HAP Program). PIs are Todd Olmstead, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs; and Brendan Kline, assistant professor in the UT Department of Economics.
  • Transforming Pediatric Healthcare Delivery: Analysis of Texas Medicaid Claims Data to Support an Ongoing Randomized Controlled Trial. PI is Dr. Karen Rascati, Eckerd/Turley Endowed Professor in the College of Pharmacy.

The research partnership between Seton Healthcare Family and the LBJ School was established in August 2014 to provide $500,000 in funding support, enabling Seton and UT Austin to conduct various non-clinical health and social policy research studies that will seed innovative, cross-disciplinary research collaborations and help to improve health policy, health care services delivery, and health outcomes for patients.

For questions about the research partnership, please contact Carolyn Heinrich at cheinrich@austin.utexas.edu or Dr. Esmeralda Garcia Galvan at esmegarcia@austin.utexas.edu.


Cynthia Osborne and CFRP Initiate State-level Conversation on Toxic Stress and Early Childhood

CHASP faculty research associate Cynthia Osborne and her research group, the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP), co-hosted “Toxic Stress and Early Childhood: What Policy Makers and Funders Need to Know” on November 14, 2014. The event marked the first state level conversation about the physiological and costly implications of adverse childhood experiences  (ACE), also known as toxic stress, and the current and potential policies developed to support Texas children and families.  The event was co-hosted with TexProtects and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and attendees included policy leaders, physicians, researchers, and advocates.

Dr. Andrew Garner, one of the nation’s leading pediatric neuroscientists studying the effects of toxic stress on early brain development, was the keynote speaker and presented “Peering into the Black Box: Understanding the Link Between Significant Adversity or Violence in Childhood and Poor Adult Outcomes”.  Representative John Zerwas (Texas House of Representatives, District 28), Chair of the Health and Human Services’ House Appropriations subcommittee, provided opening remarks.

“Multiple stressors in early childhood get under the skin and have long lasting effects that harm the child, family, community, and ultimately the state,” said Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and CFRP Director. “The implications of not addressing early childhood toxic stress are significant. It’s much more than just science – what and when targeted social policies are implemented are key.”

At the event, Dr. Osborne presented early findings from CFRP’s evaluation of the Texas Home Visiting Program that serves families with evidence-based early childhood intervention programs. Sarah Abrams with the Health and Human Services Commission and Sasha Rasco of the Department of Family and Protective Services discussed their prevention initiatives. Madeline McClure and Sophie Phillips of TexProtects also discussed the history and progress of home visiting in Texas.

For links and more about “Toxic Stress and Early Childhood: What Policy Makers and Funders Need to Know,” please go to http://childandfamilyresearch.org/about/toxic-stress/.


Cynthia Toxic Stress event


CHASP thanks Wendy Gonzales for her assistance in preparing this story.

Todd Olmstead Transforming Emergency Health Care through Research

Todd Olmstead, a CHASP faculty research associate and the James M. and Claudia U. Richter Fellow in Global Health Policy, is directing a Policy Research Project (PRP) aimed at rethinking the delivery of pre-hospital emergency care. Olmstead’s PRP, titled “Improving ATCEMS Integration with Local Healthcare Networks,” will help Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) consider its future options in the face of a changing health care scene. “Emergency departments are exactly where you want to go if you’re in a car wreck or have a stroke or heart attack, but they’re not great places if you have a bad cold or a mental illness,” says Olmstead.

With multidisciplinary degrees in Public Policy, Operations Research, and Industrial Engineering, Dr. Olmstead has a unique perspective on the issue. His interests in behavioral health and transportation logistics make him ideal for a PRP focused on reimagining emergency services in the context of an evolving healthcare industry.

“A lot of patients call EMS, believe it or not, because they need a ride, but EMS can’t take them to their primary care physician, so they bring them to the Emergency Department,” says Olmstead.

As a researcher, Professor Olmstead’s goal is to provide policy makers with critical information to help them evaluate alternatives for addressing the myriad issues related to improving health outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of health care.  In his work with the Seton Healthcare Family, Olmstead advises clinicians about research infrastructure and helps evaluate the impact of pilot programs. Olmstead also has a unique partnership with the Dell Medical School.

Olmstead’s PRP ultimately intends to help ATCEMS consider its future options in the face of a changing healthcare scene. The end product for the fall semester will be a concrete list of alternatives to be considered by ATCEMS Chief Ernie Rodriguez and Medical Director Paul Hinchey, M.D. In the spring, students will flesh out selected alternatives, outlining costs, benefits, and stakeholder analysis.

CHASP thanks Meenakshi Awasthi, MGPS 2016, for her contributions to this story.