Intersection of Foster Care Involvement and Sexual and Gender Minority Status: The Impact of Social Support on Youth Mental Health and Resilience Study
In partnership with Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, and local community-based agencies including the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland, and the YWCA A Place for Me, this NIH-funded pilot study examines rates of anxiety/depressive symptoms, self-harm, and suicidality as well as the sources of chronic stress that may be associated with these symptoms and sources of social support that may serve as protective factors for sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth with current or previous foster care involvement in Cuyahoga County, OH.
Meet the Team
Meagan Ray-Novak (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student at the Mandel School of Social Sciences. She earned a BA in Sociology in 2004 and MSSA with a concentration in Community and Social Development from Case Western Reserve University in 2010. Meagan brings nine years of direct practice experience in community-based psychiatric treatment, private practice, integrated health care and program development to the team. Her clinical practice treated those suffering from addiction, eating disorders and survivors of complex trauma. In her program development role, she led the creation of an integrated behavioral health-primary care team and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for those experiencing homelessness. Meagan’s interests include implementation science and the provision of evidence-based intervention with vulnerable populations. She works with Dr. Prince on the pilot study investigating psychological comorbidities and social support among sexual and gender minority youth with current or past foster care involvement as a study coordinator and interviewer.
Emily Peterson (she/her/hers), is a first-year Clinical Psychology doctoral student in the lab of Dr. Amy Przeworski, co-Investigator on the LGBTQ foster youth pilot study. Her research interests include the development, maintenance, and treatment of internalizing disorders across the lifespan. Emily is especially interested in the factors that contribute to anxiety and depression in members of diverse populations, with a particular interest in LGBTQ individuals. It is her ultimate goal to increase understanding of the unique and intersectional experiences of people from marginalized groups in order to more effectively tailor interventions. Emily is an interviewer and research coordinator for the LGBTQ foster youth pilot study.
Mirna Martinez (she/her/hers) is an MSSA candidate with a concentration in children, youth, and families and community practice for social change. Mirna is committed to working with the Latinx population in Cleveland in her field placements. At Nueva Luz, she managed a caseload of clients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She is currently a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) fellow placed at the MetroHealth Trauma Recovery Center. Mirna also serves as a mentor in the RISE program, providing support and education to immigrants and refugees. Working with youth has always been a passion for her, Mirna served as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Los Angeles where 14 teenagers changed her life. She saw the resilience in her students and how they were able to overcome the barriers of being first-generation students. She currently uses her skills and expertise as an interviewer the LGBTQ youth foster care study.
Thomas Schlecter (they/them/theirs), is a fourth year undergraduate student studying psychology and cognitive science. Their research interests include gender and sexual identity development, community attachment, and factors that contribute to anxiety and depression within LGBTQ individuals. Thomas hopes to continue their education by pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology and continue doing research with LGBTQ experiences. Thomas is an interviewer for the LGBTQ youth pilot study.
Leah Love Leah Love is a Licensed Social Worker and MSSA graduate as of May 2019, with a concentration in Children, Youth and Families. She has experience working at Frontline Services as a caseworker for the Bridges to Housing department and Judge Nancy R. McDonnell Community Based Correctional Facility as a mental health caseworker. Followed by her work with Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court and at the Cleveland Clinic-Lutheran Hospital. Leah has a passion for facilitating change and helping others in crisis. She enjoyed her work as an interviewer on the LGBTQ foster youth pilot study. Leah’s work in facilitating change continues as a clinician at Kinnect, a not for profit agency leading initiatives to transform the public child welfare system. Leah now works with families and LGBTQ+ youth involved with the child welfare system to foster affirmative connections and relational permanency.
Jaime Fuentes (he/him/his) is licensed social worker at the Veteran’s Administration where he provides clinical interventions for veterans with serious mental illness and oversees mental health engagement for homeless veterans in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties. Jaime earned his MSSA with a concentration on mental health from the Mandel School in May 2019. Prior to pursuing his masters, Jaime worked in the social work field for several years with experience in substance use treatment, refugee resettlement, and behavioral support with a focus on family dynamics. Jaime served as an interviewer on the LGBTQ youth pilot study.
Madeline Hodgman (she/her/hers) Madeline Hodgman graduated with her MSSA from the Mandel School in May 2019. While in the master’s program, Maddy worked with Dr. Prince's LGBTQ Youth Risk and Resilience Lab conducting literature reviews about LGBTQ youth and youth in the foster care system. Her graduate field experience was at a domestic violence shelter as a clinical intern, and in HIV care doing medical case management and running support groups. Maddy was also part of the 2018-19 HRSA BHWET Fellowship through Metrohealth Medical Center. Currently, she works as an Agency Clinician at Recovery Resources, providing individual counseling and facilitating a dual diagnosis Intensive Outpatient (IOP) group for people with both mental health and substance use diagnoses.