Megan Piel joined the WSU School of Social Work faculty in 2015. She received her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and was a Doris Duke Fellow for the Promotion of Child Well-Being. Her research focuses on the intersection of child welfare and mental health, with attention to foster youth and transitions to adulthood.
Dr. Piel’s experience in social work settings includes providing interventions and program supervision for youth and emerging adults in behavioral health and foster care group homes and schools. The scope of her work is inherently interdisciplinary as it focuses on intervention with vulnerable populations involved in multiple service systems.
• PhD, Social Work, Arizona State University
• MSW, Arizona State University
• BS, Biopsychology, Nebraska Wesleyan University
• Interpersonal Practice with Children and Families
• Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice
• Emerging Adulthood
Barriers and Strategies to Mental Health for Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood
Funded by the Wayne State University Office of the Provost, Dr. Piel is conducting research to understand the experiences of former foster youth as they navigate their mental health needs and services and aging out of foster care. Findings from this research provide much needed insight to child welfare and behavioral health professionals to adequately assess and support the mental health needs of transition-age foster youth.
Foster Youth Community College Access and Retention
Dr. Piel is also collaborating with Wayne County Community College District on a three-year grant, funded by the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to develop and evaluate a campus-based support program for students with a history of foster care. The goal of the project is to increase access, retention, and graduation rates for students at the community college level and to create a pipeline of educational support from high schools to community colleges to four-year universities.
Foster Family Resilience
Families who foster serve an important role in the child welfare system, providing safe and stable homes to children and youth who have experienced abuse and neglect. To understand how foster families cope and adapt over time to the unique challenges of fostering, Dr. Piel has partnered with collaborators at Arizona State University and the University of Illinois Chicago on three projects examining risks, strengths, and healthy functioning of foster families. Implications from these research projects provided important insight into key retention and recruitment efforts.
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Support for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
Piel is working to advance research and best practices with foster youth transitioning to adulthood to ensure healthy development and to help them enjoy long and productive lives. In the first of three current projects, Piel is interviewing former foster youth about their experiences with health care, including their use and knowledge of campus-based and community healthcare resources.
For the second, funded by the Wayne State University Office of the Provost University Research Grant, Piel is surveying former foster youth regarding their experiences navigating their mental health needs and services as they age out of the child welfare system. Findings from this research provide much needed insight to child welfare and behavioral health professionals to adequately assess and support the mental health needs of transition-age foster youth.
Piel is also collaborating with the Wayne County Community College District on a three-year grant, funded by the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to develop and evaluate a wraparound support program for foster youth transitioning to higher education with the goal of increasing access, retention, and graduation rates. Creating a pipeline of educational support from high schools to community colleges to four-year universities improves not only graduation rates but also contributes to healthy development in areas such as physical and mental health, life skills, supportive relationships and community connections, and cultural and personal identity formation. Learn more