Dr. Trudy Festinger Receives CCC Eleanor Roosevelt Award
Dean Michael A. Lindsey stands behind Dr. Trudy Festinger and her daughter Debra Bradley Ruder at the CCC Awards Ceremony.
For her groundbreaking research in the areas of foster care and child adoption, NYU Silver Professor Emeritus Trudy Festinger received the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York’s (CCC) highest honor, The Eleanor Roosevelt Award.
During her 45 years on the NYU Silver faculty, Dr. Festinger conducted seminal studies on such topics as foster care reentry; adoption disruption of children with special needs; court procedures to speed adoptions; adoptive parent service needs and foster parent training.
“As someone who has dedicated her academic career to the field of child welfare, Trudy Festinger embodies Eleanor Roosevelt’s unwavering commitment to social justice and human rights,” said CCC Executive Director Jennifer March as she presented the award. “Her work has helped the child welfare field better understand the experiences of youth discharge from foster care, factors that have led to the disruption and dissolution of adoptions, draw attention to the need for post adoption services, as well as understand the factors that drive foster care reentry and so much more.”
In a video screened at the CCC awards presentation, Dr. Festinger recalled a particularly challenging multi-year study on how foster youth fare after they age out of the system. “I raised necessary funds, obtained the cooperation of 30 New York City foster care agencies and ended up collecting large amounts of data from about 280 young adults who had been discharged from care, or about 70% of the starting sample,” Dr. Festinger explained. “The results showed that contrary to common beliefs, the vast majority were resilient and doing okay in the community.” The findings, and the voices of young people themselves, were documented in her book No One Ever Asked Us: A Postscript to Foster Care (Columbia University Press, 1983).
Dr. Festinger has been widely published in peer reviewed journals and served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Children and Youth Services Review, Journal of Public Child Welfare, and Adoption Quarterly. Informed by her research findings, Dr. Festinger has advanced child welfare policy reforms, served on nonprofit boards and provided guidance to major child advocacy organizations in New York and around the country. Significantly, she also educated generations of NYU Silver social work students, sending them into the field with rigorous research skills.
“Trudy Festinger has not only made a lasting impact on children and families affected by the child welfare system, but she has also trained countless social work researchers and practitioners in every area of the field to follow in her footsteps,” said Dean Michael A. Lindsey, who attended the awards ceremony with NYU Silver colleagues. “Our school is so proud to have benefited from her years of foundational scholarship and service.”
In addition to CCC’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award, Dr. Festinger has received the Council on Social Work Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services Division of Legal Services Child Advocate Award and the Council on Adoptable Children’s Annual Award, among other honors throughout her illustrious career.