Sharing Knowledge

Carmela J. DeCandia, Psy.D.

Academic Positions

My teaching interests center around human development, child and adolescent trauma, and psychological assessment. I have taught courses on Understanding Trauma in the Lives of children and Adolescents and Counseling the Young Child at Lesley University, and Human Development Across the Lifespan at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions.

Currently, I am an Adjunct Professor at Boston College, Lynch School of Education, Graduate Program in Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology where I lecture on Psychological Testing, Applied Child Development, and Issues in Lifespan Development.

Passionate about sharing knowledge with the field and preparing the next generation of health and human service providers.

I have written articles for academic journals and educational publications, and presented in numerous public forums and expert panels. I have provided keynote addresses on trauma-informed care, child trauma, and family homelessness, including leading five Congressional Briefings to advocate for the needs of homeless children and families. If you are interested in having me speak at your event, contact me at

For a more detailed review of my experience and background see my Curriculum Vitae (CV).

Featured Publications


November 2019

An Ecological Perspective to Screening Young Children for Risk and Resilience. Keynote Speaker. 2nd annual World Congress on Pediatrics and Child Care. Porto, Portugal. Pediatrics & Child Care 2019 is a global platform for professionals, researchers, students, and healthcare industrialists to meet and share their creative ideas to support children’s health and development.

Parenting as Mediator: Impact on Self-Regulation, Social Skills, and Neurocognitive Development During Early Childhood. Organizing Committee Member, Co-Chair, and Keynote Speaker. The 2nd International Maternal and Child Health Conference, Porto, Portugal.

August 2019

Using and Ecological Perspective to Screen Young Children for Risk and Resilience. Three Talks: (1)Why NEST? The Origins of a Screening Tool for Low-Resource Settings; (2) Let the Data Speak: Developing a Psychometrically-Validated Ecological Too; 3) Making Theory and Data Practical: NEST Results and Recommendations. American Psychological Association 2019 Annual Conference, Chicago, IL

March-April 2019

Using and Ecological Perspective to Screen Young Children for Risk and Resilience Research on NEST presented at the following national conferences:

  • CWLA 2019 National Conference, Advancing Excellence in Practice & Policy: Meeting the Challenge of the Family First Prevention Services Act. Washington D.C.
  • Utah Early Childhood Annual Conference. Ogden, UT.
  • Investments in Maternal and Child Health. Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference. San Antonio, TX.
  • The 32nd Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. Tampa, FL.

February 2019

Understanding Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care: A Thing and A Process. The Center for Hope. Keynote Kickoff Address. Southbridge, MA.

October 2018

Creating a Neurodevelopmental Ecological Screening Tool for Children. National Association of Education of Homeless Children & Youth (NAEHCY) annual conference. Anneheim, CA. Research is presented on NEST, a new, validated, online developmental screening tool for young children experiencing homelessness.

Building Nest: Creating a Neurodevelopmental Ecological Tool: Bridging the Gaps in Community-Based Practice. National Black Child Institute annual conference. Dallas, TX. Research on is presented on racially diverse children ages 3-5 experiencing homelessness. NEST is a new tool to screen children, ecologically, for risk and resilience.

Come to the Table. Bridge of Hope Annual Conference. Akron, PA. Three sessions including:

Plenary One: Overview of Trauma-Informed Care: Its a Thing and a Process! This presentation will provide an overview of trauma-informed care outlining what it is, why it’s important, and how to implement this organizational practice.

Workshop: Screening Children & Families Experiencing Homelessness: Practical Strategies for Implementation. In line with recommendations from the Services Matter report, this presentation discuss how to implement the new Bridge of Hope screening and assessment protocol.

Plenary Two: Keys to Effective Stabilization: Tailoring Services to the Needs of Families and Strengthening Community Connections. This workshop will provide participants with an overview of the evidence based stabilization model for homeless families with a focus on strategies to strengthen community connections and relational supports necessary for all families to thrive.

August 2018

The Invisible Rock: Trauma in the Lives of Children and Youth. A Workshop for Parents and Providers. Homes for Families Visioning Day. Worcester, MA.

January 2018

Evidenced Based Stabilization: A Solution to End Family Homelessness. Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness Annual Conference. New York, NY.

October 2017

Assessing Families Experiencing Homelessness: Keynote Address. Strangers to Neighbors: Opening Doors. Bridge of Hope Annual Conference. The Welcoming Place. Akron, PA.

Helping Families Address Children’s Trauma. Strangers to Neighbors: Opening Doors. Bridge of Hope Annual Conference. The Welcoming Place. Akron, PA.

Building Resilience in Children & Families who have Experienced Adversity. Strangers to Neighbors: Opening Doors. Bridge of Hope Annual Conference. The Welcoming Place. Akron, PA.

September 2017

Understanding and Responding to Child and Family Homelessness: What Psychologists Can do. Presentation at Antioch University New England Graduate School, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Keene, NH.

August 2017

Child and Family Well-Being and Homelessness—Integrating Research Into Practice and Policy. Symposium Panel presentation on Assessing Families Experiencing Homelessness: A New Framework. American Psychological Association Presentation 125th Annual Convention; Washington D.C.

June 2017

Assessing Families Experiencing Homelessness: Towards a New Framework. Presentation at a Congressional Briefing entitled  Escaping Homelessness: Helping Families Reach Their Full Potential, sponsored by The American Psychological Association, The Child Welfare League of America, The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, and SchoolHouse Connection. Capital Visitors Center, Washington, DC.

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July 2016

From Principles to Practice: Implementing and Measuring Trauma-Informed Practice in Human Service Organizations: “Implementing Trauma-Informed Practice: The Nexus Model.” International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference. Portsmouth, NH.

April 2016

How Housing and Services Can End Family Homelessness: A Policy Forum for Leaders. Sponsored by HapHousing. Springfield, MA.

March 2016

Services Matter: How to End Family Homelessness in America. Probono Institute Annual Conference. Washington, D.C.

February 2016

Services Matter: How to End Family Homelessness in America: A Panel Discussion. Moderator, Congressional Briefing, in cooperation with the U.S.Congressional Caucus on Homelessness. U.S. Capital Building Visitor’s Center. Washington, D.C.

January 2016

Assessing Homeless Families; Towards a New Framework. Beyond Housing Annual Conference; The Institute on Children, Poverty, and Homelessness. New York, NY.Concrete Strategies for Becoming Trauma-Informed. Beyond Housing Annual Conference; The Institute on Children, Poverty, and Homelessness. New York, NY.


DeCandia, C. J., Bassuk, E.L., Richard, M. (2017). Assessment of Families Experiencing Homelessness: Analysis of Current Practice. Advances in Child and Family Policy and Practice, SpringerBriefs Series Child and Family Well-Being and Homelessness, pp 49-63.

Available at:

Although research indicates that families experiencing homelessness struggle with both structural needs (e.g., housing and income) and psychosocial issues, the assessment process varies considerably among programs serving these families. In this study, we systematically evaluated the initial intake and assessment process of a convenience sample of 55 emergency shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing programs serving homeless families. Results provide support for culturally competent, family-oriented, and trauma-informed assessment of homeless families. Implications for practice and policy are discussed.

Review: “DeCandia, Bassuk, and Richard provide a vital look at the relevance and nature of assessment practices when homeless families enter shelter. This survey provides a loud wake-up call for responsive assessments of children and parents. Without such baseline measures, services can’t be matched to needs, and any objective determination of the effects of housing and services on well-being is impossible.”

Britner & Farrell (2017)

DeCandia, C. J., So, M., Hayes, L. (2017). Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts: The Case for Family-Centered Care. Homes for Families, Boston, MA.

This paper is the third in a series released by Homes For families. Using a Community Bases Participatory Research (CBPR) approach, a total of 117 parents were surveyed in the Springfield and Boston areas in motels, congregate scattered sites, and co-shelters to learn more about homeless families’ experiences with systems of care. The paper makes the case for family centered care as a model to best align family needs with service delivery.

(Click here to view the paper.)

DeCandia, C. J. (2017). Evidence Based Stabilization: A solution to Reduce Family Homelessness in MA. Homes For Families. Boston, MA.

This paper is the fourth in a series produced by Homes For Families. It reviews national research about families experiencing homelessness and evidence based practices across the country. The paper concludes by recommending an assessment and evidence based stabilization model be implemented across the Commonwealth.

(Click here to view the paper.)

Bassuk, E.L., Olivet, J., & DeCandia, C.J. (2016). Building on Strengths and Advocating Family Empowerment (BSAFE): An Intervention to End Family Homelessness – Implementation Guide. The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth and the Center for Social Innovation. Needham, MA.

BSAFE is an evidence based stabilization model for housing and case management services designed to support families and children who are homeless or formerly homeless as they transition back to the community. BSAFE addresses the needs of all family members and tailors the approach to their strengths, needs, goals, wishes, and priorities. The implementation guide outlines the components of this comprehensive approach to effective stabilization. To implement BSAFE, contact the author(s).

Osher, D., Kidron, Y., DeCandia, C.J., Kendziora, K. & Weissberg, R. P.(2016). Interventions to Promote Safe and Supportive School Climates. In Wentzel, K.R. & Ramani,G.B. (Eds.). Handbook of Social Influences in School Contexts: Social Emotional,Motivational, and Cognitive Outcomes, pp.384-404. Routledge. New York, N.Y.

The Handbook of Social Influences in School Contexts describes how and why various aspects of social relationships and contexts contribute to children’s social and academic functioning within school settings. This chapter focuses on creating safe school environments, and highlights the needs of vulnerable and traumatized children.

DeCandia, C.J., & Guarino, K. (2015). Trauma-informed Care: An Ecological Approach. Journal of Child Care and Youth Work. 25, 7-32.

This comprehensive review of trauma-informed care—its evolution, current models, promising practices, and evidence base—asserts that investment in trauma-informed care is essential to improve practice across service sectors.

DeCandia, C. J. (2015). Assessment of Families Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Practitioners and Policy Makers. Homes for Families, Boston, MA.

This brief is intended to be a guide for providers and policy makers, local leaders, and state agencies on the process of conducting a comprehensive assessment of homeless families. First, assessment is defined and current models and tools briefly reviewed. Next, the domains of a comprehensive assessment are outlined, along with the core principles underlying the process. Finally, implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Bassuk, E. L., DeCandia, C. J., Richard, M. (2015). Services Matter: How to End Family Homelessness in America. The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth Needham, MA.

More families experience homelessness in the United States than in any other industrialized nation, with the numbers reaching historic proportions. More than 2.5 million children, many below the age of six, are homeless each year. Despite these staggering figures, comprehensive strategies to end family homelessness have not been implemented, and the nature and mix of housing options coupled with services and supports continue to be debated. This report opens with a call to action and ends with the demand for an immediate response to end family homelessness.

Bassuk, E.L. DeCandia, C. J. Tsertsvadze A., Richard, M. (2014). The Effectiveness of Housing and Service Interventions on Ending Family Homelessness: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 84(5):457-74. doi: 10.1037/ort0000020.

While current housing programs are successful in reducing literal homeless, families have difficulty maintaining stable housing in the community. This article highlights the need to combine housing and services to support vulnerable families.

Bassuk, E.L., DeCandia, C.J., Beach, C.A., Berman, F. (2014). America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness. The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research. Waltham, MA.

This report examines the status of homeless children both nationally and state-by-state, including an estimate of the numbers of children who are homeless, and state rankings based on factors that can protect children from becoming homeless or lead to homelessness.