Rowena Fong, Ed.D.

Rowena Fong, Ed.D.

Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor in Services to Children and Families

Dr. Rowena Fong is the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor in Services to Children and Families in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) and Co-Chair of the Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative (GCSWI). She has served nationally as past president of the Society for Social Work and Research (2009-2013) and is an inaugural Fellow of SSWR. A former member of the Children’s Bureau’s, Child Welfare Evaluation Workgroup, of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Dr. Fong is currently serving as a board member of the North American Council on Adoptable Children and has served as a board member of the National Advisory Board of In-Home Services.

Dr. Fong received her BA in Chinese Studies and Psychology from Wellesley College, her MSW in Children and Families from UC Berkeley, and her Ed.D. in Human Development from Harvard University

Dr. Fong’s current research focuses on post permanency preservation and supports in public child welfare systems and on transracial and intercountry adoptions. In collaboration with Spaulding for Children in Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, she is currently the Co-Principal Investigator for the UT portion of $1.65 million dollar, for a 5 year $23.4 million grant (2014-2019), for the National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and Families. The grant is to develop evidence-based models of support and intervention that can be replicated or adapted in public child welfare systems for children, who are waiting for adoptive homes as well as for children and families after adoption has been finalized. The long-term expected outcomes are to increase permanency stability, improve behavioral health for children, and improve child and family well-being.

Dr. Fong’s other areas of research are international adoptions from China, victims of human trafficking, racial disproportionality in public child welfare, and immigrant and refugee children and families. She has received research and training grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement; Texas Department of Family Protective Services; and Texas Health and Human Services. Her previous research projects have included determining reasons for underutilization of Medicaid services in African American families, developing community engagement strategies in dealing with disproportionality in the public child welfare system, and evaluating the design and implementation of a foster care redesign in a public child welfare system. Since 2010 Dr. Fong has been co-director of a Chinese Culture Camp, co-sponsored by the Austin chapter of Families with Children from China and the UT School of Social Work. Her research is to examine the cultural socialization practices of adoptive parents in efforts to promote the ethnic identity formation of transracially adopted Chinese daughters and sons.

She has over 100 publications, including nine books: Fong, R. & McRoy, R. (Eds.). (in press). Transracial and intercountry adoption practices and policies: A resource for educators and clinicians. Columbia University Press; Fong, R., Dettlaff, James, J., & Rodriguez, C. (2015). Eliminating racial disproportionality and disparities: Multi systems culturally competent approaches. Columbia University Press; Dettlaff, A. & Fong, R. (Eds.) (2012). Child welfare practice with immigrant children and families. New York: Taylor & Francis Books; C. Franklin & R. Fong (2011). The church leader’s counseling resource book: A guide to mental health and social problems. New York: Oxford University Press; R. Fong, R. McRoy, & C. Ortiz Hendricks, (Eds.). (2006). Intersecting child welfare, substance abuse, and family violence: Culturally competent approaches. Washington, D.C.: Council on Social Work Education; R. Fong, (Ed.). (2004). Culturally competent practice with immigrant and refugee children and families. New York: Guilford Press; M. Smith & R. Fong (2004). Children of neglect: When no one cares. New York: Brunner-Routledge Press; R. Fong, & S. Furuto (Eds.). (2001). Culturally competent social work practice: Skills, interventions and evaluation. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon; and E. Freeman, C. Franklin, R. Fong, G. Shaffer, & E. Timberlake (Eds.). (1998). Multisystem skills and interventions in school social work practice. Washington, D.C.: NASW Press. She is co-editing another book with Alan Dettlaff book on Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families: Multisystems Culturally Competent Practice to be published by Columbia University Press.

She has received the 2014 Diana DiNitto Peer Faculty Mentor Award of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin; the 2008 Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education Award of the Council on Social Work Education; the 2007 Texas Exes Teaching Award of the University of Texas at Austin; the 2001 Regent’s Teaching Award of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the 2001 Social Worker of the Year in Education and Training of the National Association of Social Work, Honolulu Chapter.

She has been at the University of Texas at Austin since 2002. Prior to that time she taught at the University of Hawaii (1990-2002), Ohio State University (1989-1990), Nankai University in Tianjin, China (1988-1989), and Bethel College in Minnesota (1981-1988). A second generation Chinese American, Dr. Fong speaks three dialects of Chinese: Cantonese, Mandarin, and Toisanese.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Interests

Adoptions and child welfare; International adoptions from China; Chinese American children and families; Women and children victims of Human Trafficking; Disproportionality in public child welfare; Culturally competent practice; Translational research and practice.


  • Ed.D., Harvard University
  • M.S.W., University of California at Berkeley
  • B.A., Wellesley College

Teaching History



Social Work Building


Mailing Address

The University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358