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Alan J. Dettlaff

Associate Professor

MSW, University of Texas at Arlington
PhD, University of Texas at Arlington

Email: aland@uic.edu
Phone: (312) 996-0044
Room: 4549, EPASW

Download CV

Alan Dettlaff

Professional Interests 

Dr. Dettlaff's research interests focus on improving outcomes for children of color in the child welfare system through the elimination of racial disparities. Specifically, Dr. Dettlaff is actively involved in research addressing the overrepresentation of African American children in the child welfare system and identifying and understanding the unique needs of immigrant Latino children who come to the attention of this system. Dr. Dettlaff is also Principal Investigator of the Jane Addams Child Welfare Traineeship Project, which provides advanced training and financial assistance to students pursuing careers in child welfare.

Current Research

  • California Cultural Competence Integration Initiative - Funded by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation.
  • Improving Services for Children of Immigrants in Foster Care - Funded by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation.
  • Permanency Enhancement Project - Funded by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Implementation of getREAL (Recognize, Engage, Affirm, Love) in Allegheny County - Funded by the Center for the Study of Social Policy.


  • Child and Family Practice
  • Advanced Child Welfare Practice
  • Critical Social Work in a Multicultural Society
  • Models of Social Work Scholarship & Knowledge Development

Practice Experience

Dr. Dettlaff's practice experience includes several years as a practitioner and administrator in public child welfare, where he specialized in investigations of maltreatment.

Selected Recent Publications

Dettlaff, A. J., & Finno-Velasquez, M. (2013). Child maltreatment and immigration enforcement: Considerations for child welfare and legal systems working with immigrant families. Children's Legal Rights Journal, 33, 37-63.

Johnson-Motoyama, M., Dettlaff, A. J., & Finno, M. (2012). Parental nativity and the decision to substantiate: Findings from a study of Latino children in the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW II). Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2229-2239.

Thomas, K. A., & Dettlaff, A. J. (2011). African American families and the role of physical discipline: Witnessing the past in the present. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21, 963-977.

Dettlaff, A. J., Rivaux, S. R., Baumann, D. J., Fluke, J. D., Rycraft, J. R., & James, J. (2011). Disentangling substantiation: The influence of race, income, and risk on the substantiation decision in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1630-1637.

Velazquez, S., & Dettlaff, A. J. (2011). Immigrant children and child welfare in the United States: Demographics, legislation, research, policy, and practice impacting public services. Child Indicators Research, 4, 679-695.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Fong, R. (2011). Conducting culturally competent evaluations of child welfare programs and practices. Child Welfare, 90(2), 49-68.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Johnson, M. A. (2011). Child maltreatment dynamics among immigrant and U.S. born Latino children: Findings from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 936-944.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Berger Cardoso, J. (2010). Mental health need and service use among Latino children of immigrants in the child welfare system. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1373-1379.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Rycraft, J. R. (2010). Factors contributing to disproportionality in the child welfare system: Views from the legal community. Social Work, 55, 213-224.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Rycraft, J. R. (2010). Adapting systems of care for child welfare practice with immigrant Latino children and families. Evaluation and Program Planning, 33, 303-310.

Phillips, S. D., Dettlaff, A. J., & Baldwin, M. J. (2010). An exploratory study of the range of implications of families' criminal justice system involvement in child welfare cases. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 544-550.

Dettlaff, A. J., & Rycraft, J. R. (2009). Culturally competent systems of care with Latino children and families. Child Welfare, 88(6), 109-126.

Dettlaff, A. J., Earner, I., & Phillips, S. D. (2009). Latino children of immigrants in the child welfare system: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 775-783.

Affiliations, Associations & Consultations 

Chair, CSWE Commission on Educational Policy

Co-Chair, Migration and Child Welfare National Network

Editorial Reviews

Child Abuse & Neglect, Editorial Board Member

Journal of Public Child Welfare, Editorial Board Member

Child Welfare, Review Board Member

Families in Society, Consulting Editor