About María

Email: mgandarillaocampo@wustl.edu

María is a third-year social work doctoral student at the Brown School in Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining the Brown school, María received her BASW and MSW from the California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work (Go Beach!). María has worked as a case manager for families experiencing homelessness, an Emergency response Social Worker with families interacting with the child welfare system, and as a Medical Social Worker with individuals and families receiving end-of-life care. She also served as a preceptor and field instructor for BSW and MSW interns.



  • Child maltreatment epidemiology
  • Child welfare policy (mandated reporting policies)
  • Child and family well-being


  • María focuses on mandated reporting policies and their role in bringing families, particularly
    families of color, to interact with child welfare systems.
  • María’s current work involves evaluating child maltreatment prevention strategies aimed at strengthening families and preventing future interaction with child protective services.
  • María values the unique strengths and contributions of quantitative and qualitative research methods and she engages in the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data to inform her work.
  • María hopes to engage in mixed methods research that informs the development and implementation of policies and interventions that prevent child maltreatment, bolster families, and promote child well-being.


María is working with her advisor, Dr. Brett Drake, and Dr. Melissa Jonson-Reid on:

  • A study using the NCANDS Child File and Missouri integrated longitudinal child maltreatment data to analyze differences in child maltreatment report source and child welfare outcomes.
  • A study on state political partisanship and its association with child welfare policies and outcomes.

    Maria is working with Dr. Patricia Kohl on the Parents and Children Together–St. Louis (PACT-STL).

    • María is responsible for the administrative data component of the project, which includes:
      •  Completing IRB paperwork to access data at the child welfare population level and the PACT STL program participant level.
      • Assisting with completion of the evaluation plan.
      • Linking and managing administrative data.
      • Engaging in qualitative data collection via focus groups and other means.
      • Data analysis and manuscript development

    María is working with Evident Change and a partnering jurisdiction on developing a Mandated Reporter Community Response Guide.

    • María supported the survey development to understand community members decision making experiences, perceptions of child protective services, and the availability of community services to support families.
    • María assisted with analyzing qualitative data and is partaking in disseminating the results.



    • María is a fellow of the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Program (CGFP).
    • María is also a fellow of the Pivot 314 Fellowship, a program providing a developmental pathway for building and strengthening leadership skills.
    • María is a graduate research assistant for the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy, Research, and Training (CMCI). In this role, María is part of the coordinating team for the LEAD Predoctoral Institute, the Community Engagement Core (CEC), and the Translating Evidence to Practice: Dissemination and Sustainability of Best Practices in Child Maltreatment Prevention and Early Intervention Summit.
    • María is the co-founder of the Brown School PhD BIPOC Collective. This informal group provides a safe and supportive community for PhD BIPOC scholars at the Brown School.


    • María is a Research Fellow for Evident Change (formerly the National Council on Crime and Delinquency). In this role, María engages in child welfare research on a variety of topics including mandated reporting, placement stability, and addressing racial and ethnic inequity in child welfare.
    • María is a Spencer’s Cohort scholar for the Institute in Critical, Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies (ICQCM). Through the ICQCM, María is receiving training to develop “a critical awareness of how methodologies structure inequality and opportunity.”
    • María participates in a Mandated Reporter Work Group composed of mainly social work professionals. The purpose of the group is to raise critical awareness around the impact of mandated reporting policies on families and to engage in problem-solving conflicts that arise with mandated reporting in a way that empowers families.