Foster Care Privatization can Lead to Abuse, Fulton Winner Finds

In the United States in 2015, 427,910 children were in foster care, an institution meant to care for children whose parents are temporarily or permanently unable to do so. A 2013 Child Welfare Outcomes Report found that more than 98% of those children were, in fact, well-treated. However, some sources suggest that the number is much higher. In 2015, a judge in Texas oversaw a case regarding abuse in foster care. In his conclusion he wrote: ” Texas’s [foster care] children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.” As a method of reform, many have turned to privatization of foster care–having private companies find foster homes for children. However, is this truly a solution? Some are claiming that privatization only increases children’s risk of abuse.

sad girlThrough her studies, Fulton Conference Political Science winner Mandi Eatough found by privatizing foster care, these children do have an increased risk of neglect or abuse. She said: “It’s much easier to think about policy and government work in terms of whether it’s “good government” or “good for the economy.” However, I believe it’s far more important to consider these policies based on the impact they have on our lives. I hope that legislators and foster care workers alike will consider the implications of the foster care system on the children in it. ” 

Foster Care

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway: “As a reform strategy, many state and local public child welfare agencies have contracted with private agencies [for] some of their services. Some child welfare systems have implemented performance contracting, in which contracted agencies are paid based on their achievements of agreed-to outcomes.”

“There are two main theories about foster care privatization policies,” explains Mandi. “The first is that privatization is preferable because of an increase in efficiency and a decrease in cost of foster care placements. The second claims that this increase in time and economic efficiency creates pressure on social workers to place children faster, leading to a decrease in the quality of the placement.”

What she found through her study corroborated this. She discovered that:

  • Changes in foster care policy often have an immediate effect on the children in the foster care system.
  • Children placed by privatized agencies are more likely to have case goals that are more efficient and less costly.
  • Children in privatized foster care systems are at a greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect than their non-privatized counterparts.


What’s Next?

Mandi has plans to publish the paper and reexamine her data and in order to better understand foster care. Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, she said: “The Fulton Conference was an amazing opportunity to both share my own work and see the work of other students in the college. The part of the Fulton Conference that stood out to me the most was the fact that every student at the conference had been given the opportunity to work on mentored research with a faculty member. Being able to work so closely with faculty in my department on research I care about has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate education.”

New FHSS Faculty: Dr. Chad Nelson

Dr. Chad Nelson, a new Political Science faculty member, is an expert on international affairs, particularly political revolutions and the interaction between domestic instability and international politics. “I suppose what got me hooked was a curiosity about different people and places,” he said. This curiosity prompted him to travel, which, as he puts it, “led me to read more and more about the history of different places, and somehow, I got particularly interested in war and revolution.”

Dr. Nelson enjoyed his four years studying philosophy here at BYU as an undergraduate, and he eventually received his PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles. “I’m thrilled to be back among a great set of colleagues,” he said, “and I love the view from my window. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area!”

Much of Dr. Nelson’s work is focused on the international effects of revolutions. For instance, leaders of nations often see a revolution elsewhere and fear that it could spread to their own state—this can have a major impact on a nation’s foreign policy. Dr. Nelson also studies the question of how states respond to the rise of potential rivals.

Of his teaching, he says: “It is a pleasure to teach such smart and dedicated students. They don’t seem to complain about their grades as much as the students at UCLA!” When he’s not teaching, he is an outdoorsman who enjoys running. His wife currently works as a physicians’ assistant in an emergency room in Long Beach, California, and they have four children—three boys and a girl.

Welcome Dr. Nelson!

Sarah Curry, FHSS Student Extra-ordinaire

It has been said that “the quality of a university is measured more by the kind of student it turns out than the kind it takes in.” If this is true, then BYU is a very fine university, based at least on political science major Sarah Curry . fhsspictureThe senior has traveled both the world and the U.S. and is involved in many things on-campus.

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with her about her school experience:

Getting to Know Sarah Curry

Q: What’s your major? Why did you choose it? Was there a particular experience that lead you to it?

A: I am studying political science with an emphasis in political strategy, and minoring in global studies and nonprofit management. I grew up in the Washington DC area, which exposed me to politics at a young age. When I came to BYU, I knew I wanted to learn how to serve my community. Political science has taught me valuable quantitative and writing skills, as well as a practical understanding of institutions that I will need to serve effectively. Additionally, the faculty and students in political science are fascinating! Their perspectives and experiences are far-reaching. Everyone is supportive and wants to pull you into their network. I really have found my tribe.

Q: What are you involved in (i.e. extracurricular activities)?

A: I am the special events director for BYU Political Affairs Society. I am the co-founder and president of BYUPAS Women in Politics. I am also a member of both Nonprofit Management Student Association and Students for International Development. I am a Undergraduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. I was a TA for POLI 201 for three semesters and have been a RA since January. This semester, I am involved with the KBYU-Utah Colleges Exit Poll, and encourage everyone reading this to volunteer for it as well.

Q: Any tips for getting involved?

A: Be bold! Go to activities hosted by clubs and student associations. Every major has at least one. Talk to people in class. Turn group projects into a way to make friends. Meet and work with your professors and TAs. I have been connected to opportunities that I would not have found otherwise through classmates and faculty. Show commitment to learning as much as you can while you’re at BYU. Our college can be improved by your ideas and insights — you just have to share them!

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: Tap dance, SCUBA dive, cook international food, go to book club and Bombay House with my ladies, watch Parks and Rec and The Office with my husband. I also love to road trip and explore new places.

Q: Random fact or story about yourself?

A: My order at Sodalicious is a 24oz. I Love Lucy extra dirty.


Alumni Spotlight: Dee Allsop, Powerhouse Connector

deeDee Allsop is a powerhouse of a man, having been a strategist who worked at the highest level of American politics during the Ronald Reagan administration, and as a former president of the BYU Alumni Association. He graduated in political science, obtained both a masters and a doctorate from The Ohio State University, and achieved many great things in that arena, but then turned his professional attention to the science of  helping companies understand people, clients, and the decisions they make, at Heart+Mind Strategies. Through all of his endeavors is woven the power of connection, the desire to help politicians, companies, and people connect with each other.

As president of the Alumni Association, he said: “[The spirit of the Y] needs to be cultivated in the communities where people live—not just in their cities, but in their professional, global, and social communities as well.” As CEO of Wirthlin Worldwide from 2002 to 2004,  and then as president of Harris Interactions Groups, a company dedicated to administering surveys that measure public opinion in the U.S.  about the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public on subjects such as politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles. While employed at these companies, (2004-10) he also worked as the president of the BYU Board of Alumni. In addition, he was the BYU Alumni Association president from 2009-14. Currently, he serves on the Family, Home, and Social Sciences National Advisory Council. His passion for and ability to help businesses identify and leverage their connections has won him multiple awards, including the Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award for Beltway Campaign in 2008, the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Award for “The New Steel” in 2000, and the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollster of the Year” in 2000.      

He’s an example to all of the power of initiative and education. Of BYU, Allsop says, “BYU did many wonderful things in my life, and I have much gratitude to the university and the people there.” This is made evident through his far-reaching service to the university.

If you are an alumni of BYU’s School of Family Life, or any of the nine other departments in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, we’d like to hear your story! Please share with us your accomplishments, your stories of service and inspiration. Share them at And don’t forget to join us on October 13th at 11 am in SWKT 250 to listen to Alumni Achievement Award Honoree Bridgitte Madrian speak on household financial decision making.

Where Will You Go With Your Major?

Provo Student Project: How Voting Benefits You and #IVoteBecause

Several students huddled together in one of BYU’s political science classes.  Each had a passion for politics. Each wanted others to feel the power and excitement that comes from being politically involved. Collyn Mosquito gathered friends and founded The Provo Student Project.


Tyler Kivley, the public relations chair of The Provo Student Project, says he was invited by a friend to join the project, but his motivations to join ran deeper than that: “I joined because I want other students to understand the role they have and the actual power they have to influence what goes on in their communities, state, and nation. I am politically active because I choose to be a part of the force of progress and development. I vote because it is a right and duty that I have. I sincerely believe it makes a difference.”

The Provo Student Project recognizes that being politically involved is a civic duty. The right to vote has been protected by the voice, action, and blood of thousands throughout history.  It is working to spread the word about the importance of voting through several campaigns for students. They are:


A social media campaign. #IVoteBecause encourages people to post why they voted, or why they will vote.  So take that selfie and hashtag it!


The Provo Student Project created a video with students on campus about voting. Check out their Facebook page soon for the video. Watch for another video coming out this weekend!

Get Out the Vote Canvassing

Gather at Joaquin Park at 10 a.m. on October 15 to plaster the neighborhood with flyers and talk to passersby about voting. It might be a good idea to bring a car, as you will divide and conquer. Expect to be out for a couple of hours (depending on how fast you can canvas, of course).

Chalking Up the Vote

Chalk up the sidewalks to remind people to get out and vote. Meet at Joaquin Park at 10 a.m.


How Does Voting Benefit You?

All this being said, it is important to talk about reasons for voting beyond civic duty, although that is important. In his recent  BYU devotional address, Elder Dallin H. Oakes recently encouraged all to vote:  “As the First Presidency always reminds us, we have the responsibility to become informed about the issues and candidates and to independently exercise our right to vote. Voters, remember, this applies to candidates for the many important local and state offices, as well as the contested presidential election.” Beyond that, voting encourages us to think seriously about the issues that affect us, which all issues do in some way ultimately, and perhaps how we can affect change if we are dissatisfied with their effect on us.

Check out their Facebook page for more information or email them at

The Golden Rule for Better Government: Treat Women Better

Many Americans believe that in their lifetime they will live to see a female commander-in-chief. It’s possible that one will be elected in the 2016 presidential elections. The fact remains, however, that most populations around the world have not witnessed a powerful female head of state. Most citizens arguably want the same thing: a government that works for them. New research from the political science department shows that gender roles significantly matter. It also shows how gender-based treatment makes a difference.

treat women well


An August 2015 study published in the American Political Science Review by Donna Lee Bowen and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen showed a distinct correlation between poor government and poor treatment of women. The professors explored the “micro-level processes that link clan predominance with dysfunctional syndromes of state behavior. Clans typically…are characterized by extreme subordination of women effected through marriage practices.”  In addition, the researchers noted that “particular types of marriage practices give rise to particular types of political orders and may be fiercely guarded for just this reason.”

Professors Bowen and Nielsen’s research demonstrates that the stability of governments is tied to the autonomy of women in marital unions. Their study, titled Clan Governance and State Stability: The Relationship Between Female Subordination and Political Order, concludes that the existence of powerful clans tend to undermine the possibility of a functional, capable state.

“Clan governance is a useful predictor of indicators of state stability and security, and we probe the value added by its inclusion with other conventional explanatory variables often linked to state stability and security,” according to the researchers’ abstract report.

The study also found that one can predict the effectiveness of government based on the extent of oppression women experienced in marriage. “These findings suggest it may be difficult to construct a more egalitarian—or more secure—society where households are profoundly inegalitarian between the sexes,” state the authors.  “We [can] elicit much through the lens of gender, not just about women as such, but about attitudes towards civic tolerance and governance more broadly”

What does this suggest, then, for governments looking to improve their strength and cohesion? More than the dissolution of the power of agnatic, or male-only, lineages, or the promotion of literacy and education, the provision of free health care, an emphasis on industrial production or on a more equitable distribution of wealth, the improvement of the situation of women as a whole in marriage relationships is what is most likely to improve governmental quality.

The study has received worldwide attention on Twitter. You can read more about their results in the American Political Science Review.

Two Students Nominated for Truman Scholarship

Congratulations to Soren Schmidt and Rachel Stone, who have been selected as 2016 Truman Scholarship Finalists! BYU’s FHSS College and Department of Political Science could not be more proud of these two dedicated, ambitious students.

Truman Scholars are selected from among candidates who show:

  1. an extensive record of campus and community service;
  2. a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors;
  3. good communication skills and a high probability of becoming a “change agent”; and
  4. a strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

Candidates strive to have a positive impact on the world in which they live.They are supported by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, which was established in 1975 as a living memorial to our thirty-third president, Harry S. Truman.

Since its inception, the Foundation has funded almost 3,000 Truman Scholars who are making a difference around the country and the world. It supports the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. Approximately 600 applications are received every year, and from those, 200 students are chosen as finalists. In late March and early April, Soren and Rachel will be interviewed by the Foundation’s Regional Review Panels to determine whether or not they will be included in the final list of 55-65 scholars that are chosen.

We wish Soren and Rachel the best of luck!

The 2016 Class of Truman Scholars will be announced by 9:00 pm EST on April 22.

Harvard Professor to Speak at Durham Lecture

The BYU Political Science Department will be hosting this year’s G. Homer Durham Lecture, with Roger Porter, IBM Professor of Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Professor Porter’s lecture is entitled: “Presidential Leadership in a Challenging Time: How Shall We Measure the President?”

Cambridge, Massachusets

Roger B. Porter joined the Kennedy School faculty in 1977, and has served for more than a decade in senior economic policy positions in the White House, most recently as Assistant to the President for Economic and Domestic Policy from 1989 to 1993. He served as Director of the White House Office of Policy Development in the Reagan Administration and as Executive Secretary of the President’s Economic Policy Board during the Ford Administration. He is the author of several books on economic policy, including Presidential Decision Making and Efficiency, Equity and Legitimacy: The Multilateral Trading System at the Millennium. An alumnus of Brigham Young University, Porter was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received his BPhil degree. He was a White House Fellow from 1974 to 1975 and received his MA and PhD degrees from Harvard University.

February 4, 2016

11:00 AM

Room 250 SWKT (Spencer W. Kimball Tower)

Political Science Student Named MFP Fellow

The students in the college of FHSS continue to amaze us! Alejandra Gimenez, a senior political science student from Connecticut, has been named as one of the 2016-2017 American Political Science Association (APSA) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Fellows.

Alejandra GimenezThe Minority Fellows Program, as described by the APSA, is a competition for individuals from under-represented backgrounds applying to doctoral programs in political science. Gimenez herself plans to pursue a PhD in American Politics after graduation.

As an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, Gimenez has taken advantage of many opportunities outside of the classroom. She has pursued her research interests by working as an undergraduate research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy since January 2014. She and her co-author explored the effects of ‘positive and negative cues on support for an increase in the federal minimum wage’ using a survey experiment that was fielded on the 2014 Utah Colleges Exit Poll. This work was awarded first place in the 2015 Pacific Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Student Paper Competition. Gimenez has presented her work at MPSA, and she has been selected to present at the University of Michigan’s Emerging Scholars Conference.

apsa logo

To learn more about the APSA MFP program and recent fellows, visit

Crayon photo via Flickr.