Joshua Mersky, PhD, MSW

ICFW Co-Director

Joshua Mersky is a founding director of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Dr. Mersky’s research interests include child maltreatment and other adverse experiences that undermine health and well-being over the life course. He is dedicated to working with local and state partners to translate evidence into real-world solutions that improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

Dr. Mersky applies his expertise to the design, application, evaluation, and dissemination of effective practices, programs, and policies. He is currently the lead evaluator of the Family Foundations Home Visiting program, a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and Department of Health Services that supports evidence-based home visiting programs statewide. He also heads the Healthy Families Study, a randomized trial of multiple home visiting programs at the Milwaukee Health Department. In addition, Dr. Mersky is principal investigator of the Families and Children Thriving (FACT) Study, a longitudinal investigation into the health and well-being of at-risk children and families across Wisconsin.

Dr. Mersky and Dr. James Topitzes directed Project Connect, a randomized trial of a novel group-based model of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) for children in foster care. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin integrated the model into its community services array based on results demonstrating that this intervention enhances the parenting skills of foster care providers and the mental health of children in foster care.

Through his collaborative work at ICFW, Dr. Mersky continues to promote the use of empirically validated interventions such as PCIT and TF-CBT as well as effective and innovative screening and assessment practices within the context of usual care.

Dr. Mersky holds a master’s degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also earned an advanced certificate in prevention science.