Cynthia Burnson headshot

Cynthia Burnson

Senior Researcher

Cynthia Burnson, PhD, has served as a senior researcher since 2018. Prior to this, Cynthia was with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied postpartum depression treatment in Wisconsin home visiting programs, infant and family mental health, and the assessment of parent-child relationships. She received her PhD in human development and family studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied resilience processes in young children of incarcerated parents and quantitative methods. Before receiving her PhD, she taught preschool for 10 years.

Cynthia has worked on a wide range of research and outreach projects, including studying self-regulation in children born preterm, a compassionate and mindful parenting intervention, the efficacy of Sesame Street toolkit materials in promoting positive jail visitation between young children and their parent, marital quality in families with a child with autism, postpartum depression treatment programs, young children experiencing homelessness, and reading programs geared toward low-income preschoolers. Throughout all her work, Cynthia has carried her passion to promote the well-being of children within systems that impact their development: family, school, community, and policy.

Pronouns: she, her

Recent publications by Cynthia Burnson:

Cynthia Burnson, PhD

The Family First Prevention Services Act has the potential to move significant child welfare resources upstream—to fund services that help families provide safe, loving homes for their children. While this funding could help decrease the need for foster care and is worthy of celebrating, the act also has the potential to further racial inequities

Cynthia Burnson, PhD

How many times have you tried to carry on a video chat with a young child when they abruptly got up and wandered away? Or they didn’t answer your question but stared at you like you’re a character on TV? Or even hung up? Rest assured: This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in interacting! Video visits with young children pose special challenges

Cynthia Burnson, PhD

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) became law in 2018 to support states in keeping children safely in their homes and out of foster care. To be eligible for this support, states must create a prevention plan listing the programs and services for which they will pursue reimbursement. The law requires that prevention programs or

Cynthia Burnson, PhD

One day, while sitting in the home of a mother with a young boy, I asked if her son had witnessed his father’s arrest. She told me that her family was on a walk when several police cars drove up and surrounded them. Right in front of the family, police officers arrested her husband for violating parole, while her son kept asking where and why they