Trudy B. Festinger

Professor Emeritus

Areas of Expertise

Adoption and foster care; child welfare policy; social work practice evaluation


Trudy Festinger is a Professor Emeritus at NYU Silver. Dr. Festinger has conducted (principal investigator) a number of studies in the fields of foster care and child adoption, including a major follow-up study of “aging out” youth discharged from foster care. More recently, studies have concerned rates and correlates of adoption disruption of children with special needs, and factors related to reentry in foster care, both published by the Child Welfare League of America, Inc. She has completed analyses of child adoptions in New York City for 1995-98 and 2000. Under the auspices of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services Families for Kids Kellogg Grant, she has conducted two evaluative studies of child adoption procedures in New York City. Both of these reports, Speeding the Adoption Process: Evaluation of the Adoption Expediting Unit Project and Accelerating Adoptions: Evaluation of the Use of Chapter 588, were completed in 2002.

Dr. Festinger has also co-directed a study on the vision and hearing of children in foster care, and completed research on rates of adoption dissolution and the need for post-adoption services (After Adoption: A Study of Placement Stability and Parents. Service Needs), as well as a telephone survey of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services adoption hotline callers, and a descriptive study of “warm–line” services of COAC. Most recently she has co-authored studies on post-adoption placements, on the prevalence of childhood emotional maltreatment among child welfare staff, on suicidal ideation among adoptees, and on the quality of evaluations of foster parent training.

She is a past member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and served on the advisory boards of the Interagency Council of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc. and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. She was a consultant to the Children’s Defense Fund of Washington, DC and was a member of a task force on open adoption of the NYC Comptroller’s office. Dr. Festinger is currently on the editorial boards of Children and Youth Services Review, the Journal of Public Child Welfare, and the Adoption Quarterly. She is on the board of directors of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York City, and was president of the Kenworthy-Swift Foundation.

In 2011, Dr. Festinger received the Council on Social Work Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2016 she received the CSWE Child Welfare Track Career Achievement Award in Child Welfare. Dr. Festinger is also the recipient of the Administration for Children's Services Division of Legal Services Child Advocate Award (1999) and the Council on Adoptable Children Award (1997).

Dr. Festinger earned her DSW from the School of Social Work at Columbia University and her MSW from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her BA from Oberlin College.