Jeff Jenson

Jeffrey M. Jenson

Phillip D. & Eleanor G. Winn Endowed Professor for Children and Youth

What I do

Behavioral health problems in childhood and adolescence affect thousands of young people and exact significant social and economic costs. These problems include anxiety and depression, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, aggression and violence, school dropout, and risky sexual activity. Unchecked behavioral health problems early in life cause deep, often long-term damage to children and youth, families, schools and communities. They also perpetuate social inequities, with social groups characterized by gender, race, ethnicity, income and sexual orientation experiencing disproportionately high levels of behavioral health problems. My work focuses on designing and testing preventive interventions that aim to reduce behavioral health problems in young people. I have a personal goal to see more social work practitioners and researchers involved in efforts to promote healthy youth development and prevent behavioral health problems in young people.


children and youth, disparities, evidence-based practice/implementation science, intervention research, K-12 education, mental and behavioral health, public policy

Professional Biography

Jeff Jenson, Ph.D., is the Philip D. and Eleanor G. Winn Endowed Professor for Children and Youth in the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver. His research focuses on the application of a public health approach to preventing child and adolescent health and behavior problems and on the evaluation of preventive interventions aimed at promoting healthy youth development. Dr. Jenson has published seven books and numerous articles and chapters on topics of child and adolescent development and prevention science. His books include Preventing child and adolescent problem behavior: Evidence-based strategies in schools, families, and communities (2014) and Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective (2016), a recipient of the Best Edited Book Award from the Society for Research on Adolescence. Dr. Jenson is Chair of the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health and a co-author of Unleashing the Power of Prevention, a framework aimed at helping communities and states implement tested and effective preventive interventions for behavioral health problems. He is the recipient of the Aaron Rosen Award from the Society for Social Work and Research and the Distinguished Scholar and University Lecturer awards from the University of Denver. Dr. Jenson is the Editor of the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. He is a former board member and treasurer of the Society for Prevention Research and a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.


  • Ph.D., Social Welfare, University of Washington, 1988
  • MSW, Social Work, University of Washington, School of Social Work, 1987
  • MPA, University of Montana, 1984
  • BA, Education and Sociology, University of Wisconsin (River Falls), 1976

Professional Affiliations

  • Other
  • Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)
  • Other
  • Other
  • Other

Key Projects

  • Empowering Disadvantaged and High-Risk Youth: A Community - University Partnership in Public Housing Communities
  • The Effects of Youth Matters on Risk and Protective Factors and Antisocial Behavior of Elementary School Youth
  • The Evidence-Based Practice and Policy Mapping and Implementation Project

Featured Publications

Bayless, S. D., Jenson, J. M., Richmond, M. K., Pampel, F. C., Cook, M., & Calhoun, M. (2018). Effects of an afterschool early literacy intervention on the reading skills of children in public housing communities. Child and Youth Care Forum.
Jenson, J. M., Veeh, C. A., Anyon, Y., St. Mary, J. A., Calhoun, M. A., Tejada, J., & Pena, S. L. (2018). Effects of an afterschool program on the academic outcomes of children and youth residing in public housing neighborhoods: A quasi-experimental study. Children and Youth Services Review, 88, 211-217.
Hawkins, j D. (2015). Unleashing the Power of Prevention, Discussion Paper. (J. M. Jenson, Ed.). Washington DC: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.
Jenson, J. M., & Dietrich, W. A. (2007). Effects of a skills-based prevention program on bullying and bully victimization among elementary school children. Prevention Science, 8, 285-296.
Jenson, J. M., & Fraser, M. W. (2011). Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


  • Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare
  • Aaron Rosen Lecturer, Society for Social Work and Research
  • Fellow, Society for Social Work and Reseaarch
  • University Lecturer, University of Denver
  • Distinguished Scholar Award, University of Denver