Darcey Merritt

Associate Professor of Social Work
(212) 998-9186

Areas of Expertise

Public child welfare system; addressing issues that include child maltreatment, parental fears, and effective parenting in low socio-economic environments; the impact of child neglect on parent and child well being; domestic violence; correlates of specific types of child maltreatment; characteristics of neglectful parenting behavior


Dr. Darcey Merritt is an associate professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work and a faculty fellow for the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. She has extensive experience as a practitioner in the private and public child welfare systems, specializing in child and family assessments for appropriate foster and adoptive placements. Dr. Merritt received a BA degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, with a concentration in psychology and sociology. She received both her MSW (2003) and PhD (2006) in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Affairs Department of Social Welfare. Her dissertation was awarded an honorable mention for the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Society for Social Work Research in 2007. She was a selected participant of the 2012 Cornell Summer Research Institute and an invited panelist at the 2012 Translational Research on Child Neglect Consortium Conference, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, Washington, DC.

Dr. Merritt's research interests include evaluating the experiences of those served by public child welfare systems, correlates of specific types of child maltreatment, challenges to parenting and the strength of relationships between children and their caregivers, characteristics of abusive and neglectful parents, the neighborhood structural impact on parenting, family violence, poverty and educational attainment, social policy analysis, economic sustainability of vulnerable populations, and racially coded messages in the media regarding poor and abusive parents. Dr. Merritt has published work in Child Maltreatment, Children and Youth Services Review, Child Abuse and Neglect, Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Substance Abuse, Substance Use and Misuse, Journal of Social Services Research, and the Journal of Public Child Welfare. Her published work primarily focuses on child welfare involved families and their perceived experiences while receiving services, contextual (e.g. neighborhood and psychosocial) indicators of well being outcomes, the structural and systemic impact on parenting, and children’s preferences and expectations for permanency, while living in temporary care and the relationship between parental potential to abuse and child abuse rates in communities.

Dr. Merritt has experience teaching the History of Social Welfare Policy, Social Policy Analysis, Research Methods, Family Violence, Grant Writing, as well as workshops on cluster and factor analyses and hierarchical linear modeling. She has previously served on the faculty of Rutgers University, School of Social Welfare between 2006 and 2010, where she taught Social Welfare Policy Analysis and Violence and Abuse in Adulthood. She joined the faculty of the Silver School of Social Work in 2010 where she teaches Social Welfare Programs and Policies (foundation and advanced courses). Maintaining a commitment to community development and revitalization, while in New Jersey she served as a member of the Board of Directors of Essex County Urban League in Newark, NJ. She has served on the Child Maltreatment Prevention Committee for the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children for the last two years since 2014. Additionally, she has certifications in domestic violence training and adoption clinical training.