Dr. Antonio Garcia Spearheads Innovative Research to Transform Trauma-Informed Practices in Education 

Through Garcia's groundbreaking research and development of trauma-informed curricula, Dr. Garcia is not only advancing academic discourse but also fostering real-world solutions that enhance the resilience and well-being of children across the nation.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 07, 2024) — Dr. Antonio Garcia, the Buckhorn Professor of Social Work at the University of Kentucky, has been at the forefront of addressing childhood trauma through his research.  

Garcia is a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) fellow, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Families & Children. He collaborates extensively across multiple disciplines.  

“My goal is to foster a holistic approach where educators are equipped to address the psychological impacts of trauma with the same confidence as they do academic challenges,” Garcia stated.  

This approach is reflected in Garcia’s comprehensive portfolio, which includes enhancing fatherhood engagement among Black Indigenous Latinx People of Color (BILPOC) communities and integrating evidence-based interventions for youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. 

Garcia recently concluded three major research projects: 

  1. “COVID-19: Preparing Schools to Address Childhood Trauma” 

In this pilot study funded by the UNITE/COSW, Garcia and co-investigator Ginny Sprang developed an online curriculum to increase trauma-informed care awareness among school personnel. Although the study found an increase in positive attitudes toward trauma-informed practices, Garcia notes that “the journey to full integration of these practices in schools is ongoing. We need more targeted training and clear referral pathways to truly meet the needs of our students.” Read more about the pilot grant here. 

  1. “Disciplinary Research-Practice Partnerships to Enhance Father’s Capacities to Promote Child Well-being” 

The Unifying Fathers to Families, Communities, and Systems (UFFCS) study is a community-based participatory initiative that originated from the desire to contend with the scarcity of culturally congruent father-centric practices and policies across child and family-serving systems. The overall objective of the UFFCS study was to rely upon input from fathers and service providers to inform the development of a father-centric model to achieve two major goals: 1) mitigatethepractices and policies that sustain racial inequities in service provision among BILPOC fathers and 2) enhance fathers’ capacity to engage in healthy co-equal parenting. Read more about it here. 

  1. “Public Library Virtual Storytimes: Meeting School Readiness and Community Needs through a Socially Distant Approach.” 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, public libraries shifted their vital story time programs online to continue supporting young children’s educational needs, particularly in areas of early literacy and school readiness. The exploratory research project aims to assess and inform the efficacy of these virtual story time (VST) programs. By engaging diverse public libraries across the U.S., the study developed evidence-based guidelines to enhance the delivery and accessibility of VST programs, ensuring they meet the needs of all children, including those from underserved communities. Read more about it here. 

By bridging academic research with practical implementation, Garcia’s work not only advances scholarly discourse but also promises real-world applications that could transform educational settings nationally. His leadership in cross-disciplinary research continues to inspire policies and practices that support the well-being of all children. 

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For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.