Judith L. Perrigo

Judith (Judy) Perrigo is an Assistant Professor in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Social Welfare Department. Additionally, she serves as the Research Director for the Data Informed Futures (DIF) project at the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities and assumes the role of Social Work Training Director within the UCLA Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) clinic. Drawing from over two decades of clinical experience working with children and families in Los Angeles County, her scholarship and teaching revolve around prevention and early intervention (PEI) strategies aimed at addressing societal challenges, particularly those impacting early childhood.


Dr. Perrigo specializes in advancing holistic wellbeing for young children aged birth to 5 years. Her research encompasses various facets of early childhood, including mental health, socio-emotional development, early educational experiences, access to public services, and economic security. Her overarching objective is to identify both protective and risk factors contributing to childhood wellbeing, such as systemic challenges like socioeconomic and ethnoracial disparities and inequities. She approaches this goal through the lens of equitable PEI strategies and utilizes a range of research methodologies, including qualitative, mixed-methods, and quantitative approaches, thoughtfully selected to align with the unique demands of each research inquiry.


Her research agenda can be divided into two primary streams. The first focuses on transforming early childhood ecosystems, while the second delves into the impact of policies on families with young children facing poverty and material hardships. Among Dr. Perrigo’s ongoing research projects is a series of descriptive studies examining holistic wellbeing trends among kindergarten populations across the United States. These studies encompass facets such as physical and mental health, socio-emotional skills, and cognitive development. Another notable project is a multi-year, randomized controlled trial testing the impacts of guaranteed income receipt on early childhood development and various aspects of material hardship and poverty. Additionally, Dr. Perrigo is involved in research examining the experiences of young neurodivergent children within medical, mental health, and educational systems.


Dr. Perrigo is also deeply committed to collaborating with and serving communities to tackle local, social needs that can be explored through research. A key facet of her commitment lies in making sure that research findings are strengths-oriented, culturally humble, and accessible to a broad range of audiences. Support for her work comes from the Society for Research in Child Development, First 5 Orange County, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Council on Social Work Education, and Los Angeles County.


In addition to her scholarship, Dr. Perrigo places a strong emphasis on engaging and mentoring student research collaborators. She teaches courses on social welfare practice and infant and early childhood mental health. Her teaching approach highlights the historical and structural forces that underlie both oppression and opportunity. Through her collaborative guidance, students develop practical, meaningful, and pertinent knowledge and skills that resonate within the realm of social justice and welfare.

Joanna Barreras

Dr. Joanna L. Barreras’ research focuses on understanding and addressing health and mental health disparities among Latinos. Joanna is particularly interested in the role of Latino cultural factors, such as familism, fatalism, family cultural conflict, acculturation, and acculturative stress, with regard to wellbeing and healthcare service utilization. Through her research, Joanna aims to develop culturally grounded policies and interventions to increase health and mental health service utilization.

Ms. Barreras is well-trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. In collaboration with faculty at UCLA, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the RAND Corporation, and Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Research & Evaluation, Ms. Barreras has worked on projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)— including PI and Co-I roles. Joanna has presented her work at interdisciplinary academic conferences, has taught graduate and undergraduate classes at UCLA and California State University Los Angeles, and has publications in high impact journals.

Joanna is currently the Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at Bienestar Human Services, Inc., a community-based organization that focuses on identifying and addressing health issues faced by Latino sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations. Drawing upon 10 years of research experience on Latino health and mental health disparities, five of which include research with the SGM communities and HIV prevention and intervention. Further, Joanna has contributed to several community-based initiatives and professional undertakings that address the needs of disenfranchised and marginalized groups.

Through her research, Joanna aims to develop interventions to improve the well-being of diverse minority communities. Joanna is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach (BA in Psychology) and California State University, Los Angeles (MSW). She was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California and is fluent in Spanish.