Uriyoan Colon-Ramos

Reiko Boyd



Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Professional Bio

Reiko Boyd, PhD, is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Dr. Boyd’s practice experience as a children’s social worker in two counties within California’s Department of Children and Family Services directly informs her scholarly interests. Her work is centered on three areas of inquiry: child welfare services, racial/ethnic disparities in health and public systems serving children, and structural inequality and opportunity in Black communities. Dr. Boyd earned her MSW from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.

Project Description

Black infants represent a high-risk population at the center of both health and child welfare disparities. This project will analyze Black infant health as an attribute of place and explore the relationship between disparate health and child welfare outcomes at the county level. This study is also designed with a specific intent to determine county-level protective factors that may support and promote Black infant health as measured by both birth and child welfare outcomes. This study is a secondary data analysis that will link birth records, child welfare data, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings Data. In the first phase of this study multi-level analysis will be employed to examine associations between county-level perinatal factors and child welfare outcomes that are known to impact health and well-being across the life course. In the second phase, latent class analysis will be used to determine whether there are county contexts that are protective to Black infant health.

The approach of this research deliberately aims to reframe existing paradigms by building evidence to support the conceptualization of child maltreatment as a public health problem. It focuses on age-specific risk and the role of place-based factors to challenge the traditional deficit-based focus on individual pathology and behavior that is a major influence on typical child welfare system interventions. As such, this project aims to address the need for clear, accessible evidence to guide partnerships between local public health and foster care systems on efforts to improve Black infant health. Continued research in this vein may provide the impetus for collaborative efforts to develop targeted primary prevention strategies aimed at reducing disparate health outcomes for vulnerable infants.

Why did you apply to New Connections

I applied for New Connections because I knew that being awarded would be an unparalleled springboard to my career. The funding would allow me the distinction of securing my first grant as a principle investigator and afford me precious protected time to pursue the research niche in line with my passion and genuine interests. I applied because the New Connections network is overwhelmingly rich and the dynamic combination of support provided would be an invaluable to asset to my career.

Research Interests

  • Racial/ethnic disparities in health and social systems serving children
  • Structural inequality and opportunity in African American communities
  • Child welfare services
  • Infant/Adolescent health and well-being
  • Youth emancipating from foster care Social determinants of health



Berrick, J.D., & Boyd, R. (2016). Financial well-being in family-based foster care: Exploring variation in income supports for kin and non-kin caregivers in California. Children and Youth Services Review, 69, 166-173.

Boyd, R. (2014). African American disproportionality and disparity in child welfare: Toward a comprehensive conceptual framework. Children and Youth Services Review37, 15-27.

Boyd, R. (2014). Psychological theories and low-wage work. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment24(1), 16-25.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2017
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration
  • Project Name: Capitalizing Public Health and Child Welfare System Connections: Building Evidence for Cross-Sector Collaboration to Promote Black Infant Health

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