Heather Taussig

Heather N. Taussig


What I do

Our field needs more innovative and contextually sensitive prevention programming for youth. My work focuses on developing and rigorously testing programs that promote positive youth development in multiple realms to foster healthy futures by nurturing youth's strengths.


addictions and substance use, child welfare, children and youth, criminal justice, evidence-based practice/implementation science, intervention research, mental and behavioral health, research methods, trauma, violence

Professional Biography

Heather Taussig, PhD, is a professor at the Graduate School of Social Work. She is also an adjunct professor at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado.

Taussig's research focuses on developing and testing prevention programming for maltreated children with child welfare involvement. She developed and directs the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, an evidence-based mentoring program for children with child welfare involvement that was developed and tested with funding from the National Institutes for Health. FHF is being disseminated through community-based organizations and a teen adaptation is being tested in a randomized controlled trial funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Taussig recently completed data collection for a 10-year longitudinal study of youth in foster care, funded by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Taussig's work includes research on youth mentoring, adolescent risk behaviors, dating violence and child welfare system outcomes.

Taussig currently serves on several review panels and community collaboratives as well as on the research board of the National Mentoring Resource Center. She served on Colorado Governor Ritter's Task Force on Foster Care and is an awardee for her work on child abuse and neglect from the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. In 2021 Taussig was awarded the inaugural Jeffrey Jenson Endowed Research Award and a Fulbright Scholar Award in Cardiff, Wales. She is the recipient of the 2024 Kempe Foundation Professional Award.


  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, San Diego State Univ/Univ of California San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, 1998
  • BA, Psychology, Harvard University, 1992

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Featured Publications

Taussig, H. N., Culhane, S. E., & Hettleman, D. I. (2007). Fostering healthy futures: an innovative preventive intervention for preadolescent youth in out-of-home care. Child welfare, 86(5), 113-31.
Taussig, H. N., Culhane, S. E., Garrido, E., & Knudtson, M. D. (2012). RCT of a mentoring and skills group program: placement and permanency outcomes for foster youth. Pediatrics, 130(1), e33-9.
Taussig, H. N., Harpin, S. B., & Maguire, S. A. (2014). Suicidality among preadolescent maltreated children in foster care. Child maltreatment, 19(1), 17-26.
Taussig, H. N., Weiler, L., Rhodes, T., Hambrick, E., Wertheimer, R., Fireman, O., & Combs, M. (2015). Fostering Healthy Futures for Teens: Adaptation of an evidence-based program. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 6, 617-642.
Taussig, H. N., Bender, K., Bennett, R., Combs, K. M., Fireman, O. J., & Wertheimer Hodas, R. (2020). Mentoring for teens with child welfare involvement: Permanency outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of the Fostering Healthy Futures for Teens Program. Child Welfare, 97(5), 1-24.


  • Outstanding Young Professional in the Field of Child Abuse and Neglect, International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Dean's Award for Exceptional Support and Commitment to Social Work Education, University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
  • Fulbright Scholar Award, The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board
  • Jeffrey Jenson Endowed Research Award, Graduate School of Social Work
  • Professional Honoree at the Annual Gala, Kempe Foundation for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect