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 concerns, and optimal parenting in low socio-economic and under resourced environments; understanding parental perspectives regarding the etiology of child neglect and the impact on parent and child well being; domestic violence; correlates of specific types of child maltreatment; decision making processes of neglectful parenting behavior


Darcey Merritt is an Associate Professor at NYU Silver and is 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, and as a researcher with interests including child maltreatment prevention; maltreatment type definitional issues; neighborhood structural impact on maltreatment; and the lived experiences of those served by public child welfare systems.

Dr. Merritt is internationally recognized for her expertise in child welfare and she has presented research and provided guidance on child protective services design and supports for vulnerable families in China, Abu Dhabi, and across the United States. In January 2019, she presented a keynote at the International Conference on Social Work for Children: Practice in China and Global Experience in Beijing at the invitation of UNICEF’s China Office.

In August 2019, Dr. Merritt was awarded an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for a study to elicit the parental decision-making processes that result in behaviors typically deemed by child welfare service providers as neglectful.

Dr. Merritt is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Social Work and Research and serves as chair of the organization’s Social Policy Committee. She is an Associate Editor of Children and Youth Services Review (CYSR), and serves on the editorial board of Child Maltreatment. Her research has been widely published in journals including CYSR, Child Maltreatment, 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. She also serves on the Child Maltreatment Prevention Committee of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and was lead author of the chapter on “Effective Program Models for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment” in the APSAC Handbook on Child Maltreatment, Fourth Edition. 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 of child welfare oversight on parenting, children’s preferences and expectations for permanency while living in out of home placements, and child developmental and well being outcomes in the context of socio-behavioral, relational and neighborhood level factors.

Dr. Merritt, who joined the NYU Silver faculty in 2010, 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 serves on the NYU Faculty Senate and is Vice Chair of the Tenured Faculty Senators Council. In 2019, she received the School’s first-ever Distinguished Contribution to Student Engagement Award.

Dr. Merritt earned her MSW and PhD in social welfare from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare, and her BA from Sarah Lawrence College with concentrations in sociology and psychology.