Shauna Lea Rienks

Research Associate Professor, Senior Research Analyst, Butler Institute for Families

What I do

Whenever possible, rigorous research, knowledge of best practices and the needs of the community should inform program development, clinical practice, teaching and policy making. Our most effective work happens when we take into account ways in which individual, family and cultural systems impact child and family well-being.


child welfare, children and youth, evidence-based practice/implementation science, families and family systems, gender, intervention research, K-12 education, mental and behavioral health, race and ethnicity, research methods

Professional Biography

Shauna Rienks, PhD, is a research assistant professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and a senior research analyst at the Butler Institute for Families. She is an expert in child welfare workforce development, child development, family relationships and well-being across the lifespan, and social determinants of health.

Rienks has over 15 years of experience at the national, state and local levels in research and evaluation, with strengths in research design, development and testing of measurement tools, qualitative and quantitative data analyses, and research and evaluation consulting and capacity-building. She has led several federally funded longitudinal studies, including an examination of the impact of adverse childhood experiences on children's health, organization-level integration of services, early literacy programming, community need for services, and the development of a 360 leadership assessment and feedback process for child welfare staff that has been widely adopted.

Rienks holds a BA from Princeton University and a PhD in developmental psychology with a quantitative research methods concentration from the University of Denver.


  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Denver, 2007
  • MA, Developmental Psychology, University of Denver, 2005
  • BA, Psychology, Princeton University, 1995

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Certified Mediator

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Social Work and Research

Featured Publications

Rienks, S. L., Phillips, J. D., McCrae, J. S., Bender, K. A., & Brown, S. M. (2017). Complex health concerns among child welfare populations and the benefit of pediatric medical homes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 65, 212-225.
Wacker, E. A., Rienks, S. L., & McCrae, J. S. (2018). Studying the impact of a literacy intervention in early childhood classrooms: Strategies and lessons learned in a quasi-experimental design. SAGE Research Methods Cases. Sage.
Rienks, S. L., Markman, H. J., Wadsworth, M., Einhorn, L., & Etter, E. (2011). Father involvement in urban low-income fathers: Baseline associations and changes resulting from preventive intervention. Family Relations, 60, 191-204.
Potter, C., Leake, R., Longworth-Reed, L., Altschul, I., & Rienks, S. L. (2016). Measuring organizational health in child welfare agencies. Children and Youth Services Review.


  • Development of a multidimensional approach to assessing organizational health
  • Trauma Experiences of Urban American Indian Parents/Caregivers Involved with Child Welfare Systems
  • Developmental differences in ACEs as predictors of complex health profiles among children involved in child welfare
  • Utilizing 360-degree assessments for program evaluation and leadership development with child welfare managers
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and Children’s Complex Health Concerns