Francisco Palermo

In Funded Scholars
Francisco Palermo
Francisco Palermo




Assistant Professor
University of Missouri

Professional Bio

Francisco Palermo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri. His research focuses on promoting Latino children’s sociobehavioral health and educational well-being by fostering supportive social interactions and relationship qualities with parents, teachers, and peers. Palermo has presented his work at conferences and published several manuscripts on low-income Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ learning of English language and academic skills, and on how social experiences with parents, teachers, and peers contribute to their educational well-being. 

Project Description 

My project will examine how adverse conditions in the form of economic distress and maternal mental health problems when children are 14-months of age shape Latino mothers’ later parenting behaviors at 24-months of age, and in turn children’s sociobehavioral health and educational well-being in preschool and in 5th grade. The project will also investigate how those associations vary by maternal and child culture and immigration-related factors that stem from the process of acculturation, such English proficiency levels, and by children’s trait characteristics, such as their emotion regulation capabilities. 

Why I Applied to New Connections 

I applied for New Connections because my research program is consistent with the Foundation’s goal of empowering families to foster their children’s health and positive development, even in the face of adversity. The New Connections program allows me to focus on research that is important to me and that addresses critical gaps in our understanding of how best to promote Latino children’s health and quality of life. 

What New Connections Means for my Career 

Being part of the New Connections program is a great opportunity to get to know the Foundation better, to meet and collaborate with Foundation scholars to refine my ideas and develop new ones, and to advance my professional development. The New Connections program is a key step in the development of my career dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of Latino children in the U.S. 

Research Interests 

My program of research focuses on enhancing Latino children’s health and educational well-being. I am particularly interested in the contributions of social interactions with parents, teachers, and peers; and the unique roles of cultural and immigration-related factors, such limited English proficiency. 


Human Development and Family Science.

Populations of Interest

The population of interest are the Latino families who participated in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (EHSREP), an experimental study conducted on several Head Start sites across the U.S. The EHSREP followed children from infancy to 5th grade and gathered a rich set of measures from multiple sources on adverse conditions, mothers’ mental health, mother-child relationship and interaction qualities, and children’s sociobehavioral health (e.g., emotionality, self-regulation, and interpersonal skills, language, and academic skills). 

Honors and Awards 

Jack and June Richardson Scholar Honors Thesis Mentor Award for Exceptional Mentoring, University Honors Program, Colorado State University.


Palermo, F., & Mikulski, A. M. (2014). The role of positive peer interactions and English exposure in Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ English vocabulary and letter-word skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29, 625-635.

Palermo, F., Mikulski, A. M., Fabes, R. A., Hanish, L. D., Martin, C. L., & Stargel, L. E. (2014). English exposure in the home and classroom: Predictions to Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ English vocabulary skills. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35, 1163-1187.

Ispa, J. M., Carlo G., Palermo, F., Su-Russell, C., Harmeyer, E., & Streit, C. (2015). Middle childhood feelings toward mothers: Predictions from maternal directiveness at age 2 and respect for autonomy currently. Social Development, 24, 541-560.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2015
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Child and Family Well-being 
  • Project Name: Promoting Latino Children’s Sociobehavioral Health and Educational well-being.

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