Shadi Houshyar


Shadi Houshyar is a Senior Associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), where she is focused on equity-driven policies to support young children and families and with a primary focus on child health, childhood trauma, toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). At CSSP, Shadi has overseen the successful implementation of a universal pediatric intervention for infants, birth to six months, aimed at promoting protective factors, addressing social determinants of health, and enhancing parent agency as part of community approaches to preventing and mitigating toxic stress. Shadi has deep expertise in advancing equity through public policy both legislatively and administratively at the local, state, and federal level.

Prior to joining CSSP, she served as the Director of Early Childhood and Child Welfare Initiatives at Families USA. In this role, Shadi led policy development on the national and state-level for policies to promote the healthy development of children, including preventing and mitigating ACEs, ensuring access to trauma-informed care, and promoting resiliency in young children and families. Shadi also has experience working on federal child welfare policy, with a focus on identifying opportunities to address the health and behavioral health challenges of children and youth impacted by the child welfare system. This includes serving as Vice President for Child Welfare Policy at First Focus, a national bi-partisan children’s advocacy organization. She was also directed First Focus’s State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC), a national resource center for state-based advocates, aimed at improving outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system by building the capacity of, and connections between, state child welfare advocates. Shadi has also served as a fellow of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale and as an AAAS/SRCD Congressional Fellow for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), working on health, education, and disability policy and other issues within the jurisdiction of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Shadi received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Yale University.


Follow us on Instagram to learn more about our work, the CARES Ambassadors, and the policies we are building to advance change for all transition age youth.

We know that children and youth do best when they are able to remain in their homes and communities. And when families do become known to the child welfare system, it is the system’s responsibility to partner with families in ways that promote autonomy and provide supports and resources that keep families together. ⁣
For LGBTQ+ youth and their families, this requires having a system, including staff, that engage youth and families with dignity and are affirming and responsive to their needs, as well as partnerships with a broader network of community-based supports that can meet families’ needs.⁣
Check out our full statement on how Systems, policies, and communities play an important role in affirming LGBTQ+ young people in the foster care system on our blog.  🔗 in bio.
Young people want to be seen for their whole selves and deserve to feel encouraged, affirmed, and supported as they make their way in the world. 
Join us TODAY from 2:30-3:45 PM ET for a panel discussion hosted by @chcidc to talk about opportunities to support and affirm #LGBTQ young people in foster care, featuring LA Ambassador @danie.rose_ 
Learn more and register at
Check out #Atlanta CARES Ambassador Vlad speaking 🗣️ about how he feels about creating policies that help transition-age youth. “Something that I’ll say I enjoy a lot about being a CARES Ambassador is improving people’s lives and giving opportunities. Making policies that will help youth and people in need.”
 #CARES #fostercare #policy #youthpolicies #CARESAmbassador
Check out CARES Ambassador Joseph Mariscal talking about some of the challenges with accessing benefits from state to state and what universal policies should be protected for transition aged youth. #CARES #fostercare #healthcare
#tbt to President Leonard Burton winning the high-five challenge at @ctrsocialpolicy’s 2023 Constituent Convening!