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Childs, Ph.D.

Senior Associate

Dr. Ellen Childs is an organizational sociologist and mixed-methods health services researcher with more than 15 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating initiatives to improve access to care. She uses her background in organizational sociology and implementation science to explore the interconnected factors that influence the success of interventions in health systems. She is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles. She has worked with several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Childs is the project director for HRSA’s Paraprofessional Apprenticeship Technical Assistance (PATA) Program. It provides technical assistance and training to 38 HRSA awardees implementing Registered Apprenticeship Programs for behavioral health paraprofessional roles, such as community health workers or substance use treatment recovery coaches. Childs brings her expertise in implementation science, workforce development, adult learning, and opioid treatment and recovery services to develop resources and training and implement the HRSA PATA project. Childs leads the development and review of focused technical assistance resources and training, ensuring that materials are easy-to-read and usable by awardees. She ensures the rapid cycle quality improvement evaluation feeds information to the technical assistance team and the reporting and dissemination of broader impact and lessons learned.

Childs also leads two learning collaboratives of clinical practices implementing interventions to improve opioid management for older adults in the AHRQ Opioids in Older Adults project. And she supports the evaluation of the AHRQ EvidenceNow: Building State Capacity project and the CDC Overdose Data 2 Action project.

Prior to joining Abt, Childs’s work included research examining strategies such as expanding harm reduction services to reduce opioid and other accidental drug poisoning. She supported a variety of health services program implementations. They ranged from HIV patient navigation and maternal depression screening to antimicrobial stewardship programs and managing incidental radiographic findings. She also supported implementation of health interventions in public housing, including evaluating the implementation of smoke-free housing initiatives.


  • Organizational sociology
  • Sociological social psychology
  • Implementation Science
  • Health Services Research
  • Workforce development

Key Projects:

  • HRSA Paraprofessional Apprenticeship Technical Assistance (PATA) Program
  • AHRQ Opioids in Older Adults
  • AHRQ EvidenceNow: Building State Capacity
  • CDC Overdose Data 2 Action Evaluation
  • SAMHSA Evidence-Based Resource Center


  • Childs, E., Gellar, A.C., Brooks, D.R., Davine, J., Kane, J., Keske, R., Anthony, J., Rees, V.W. 2022. “Best-Practice Approaches to Implementation of Smoke-Free Housing Rules: A National Mixed-Methods Survey of Early-Adopting Public Housing.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Childs, E., Biello, K.B., Valente P.K., Salhaney, P., Biancarelli, D.L., Olson, J., Earlywine, J.J., Marshall, D.B.L., and Bazzi, A.R. 2021 “Implementing harm reduction in non-urban communities affected by opioids and polysubstance use: A qualitative study exploring challenges and mitigating strategies.” International Journal of Drug Policy. 90:103080.
  • Rajabiun, S., Childs, E., Fortu, K., Spencer, L.Y., Niles-Carnes, L.V., Wahome, R., Downes, A., Heath, C. 2020. “Unmet Needs Among Out of Care and Recently Diagnosed Women of Color with HIV: Opportunities for Focused Interventions.” Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.
  • Barlam, T.F., Childs, E., Zieminski, S.A., Meshesha, T.M., Jones, K.E., Damschroder, L.A., Goetz, M.B., Butler, J.M., Madaras-Kelly, K., Reardon, C.M., Samore, M.H., Shen, J., Stenehjem, E., Zhang, Y., Drainoni, M. 2020. “Perspectives of Physician and Pharmacist Stewards on Successful Antibiotic Stewardship Program Implementation: A Qualitative Study.” Open Forum in Infectious Disease. 7(7):ofaa229.
  • Childs, E., Laws, M.A., Drainoni, M.L., Nath, A., Reid, M.J., Sandel, M., and Cohen, R.T. 2017. “Caring for Young Children with Asthma: Perspectives from Urban Community Health Centers.” Journal of Urban Health 94(6):824-834.
Ellen Childs