I am a retired Senior Extension Associate (Emeritus) with the College of Human Ecology, Cornell University. I am affiliated with the College's Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and the research and evaluation team of the Residential Child Care Project. My professional purpose is consistent with the RCCP’s mission to provide high-quality, research-informed, and equitable services for children served by our nation’s child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and developmental disability systems. My focus is on building organizational capacity and staff skills within child welfare agencies that support positive and age-appropriate developmental relationships between children and adult caretakers. Children who have experienced trauma or extreme adversity require trusting relationships with adult caretakers. Trusted relationships are essential to promoting the perception of safety which is critical to their recovery and optimal development. I have been fortunate to continue working with organizations that are receptive to research-informed practice, applying that research to their practice, and seeing the value of contributing research to their professions. My role and that of the RCCP is to provide research expertise and strategies in ways that complement professional practice within both treatment and educational environments. My work has focused on the long-term development, implementation, and evaluation of the Children and Residential Experiences: Creating Conditions for Change program model for residential group care and compiling and maintaining a system to track children and youth restraint fatalities in the United States. These efforts since 2010 have resulted in over fifteen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in implementation science, psychiatry, social work, psychology, and child welfare publications.
Dr. Nunno provides long-term planning and direction to the research and evaluation activities related to the Residential Child Care Project. A broad range of psychological, educational and organizational research and theory underpins both the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and Institutional Abuse (IAB) components. The project raises research questions such as: for abused and neglected children what constitutes safe and developmentally sound treatment in residential care; and, what impact does this care have on their treatment outcomes? A major project goal is to design multi-method research and evaluation strategies that ensure fidelity to the implementation process, as well as, the measurement of short and longer-term child outcomes.
To inform current practice, the RCCP 1) has reviewed children’s restraint and seclusion deaths; 2) analyzes aggressive incidents and restraints within facilities; 3) continues to support on-going research and evaluation on the safety, the use, and the impact of physical interventions with children; and 4) monitores our TCI system’s effectiveness, safety, use, and impact.
Dr. Nunno gives direction and consultation to the Child and Residential Experiences: Creating Conditions for Change (CARE) program model for residential child care workers that is built on principles of relationship, competency, trauma sensitivity, developmental appropriateness, family centeredness, and ecology. A core challenge for facilities who use this program model is to achieve organizational congruence within the best interests of the children in their care, and to improve their organizational climate and culture through participation-centered management and continuous quality improvement strategies. In 2008 child outcome variables were added to the evaluation design and the project is engaged in a quasi-experimental design to test its efficacy and effectiveness with children in residential care. This project has gone beyond its initial 3-year funding from The Duke Endowment and into a 4th and 5th year.
Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Sellers, D. E., Holden, M. J., & Nunno, M. A. (2021). Promoting a relational approach to residential child care through an organizational program model: Impacts of CARE implementation on staff outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.106330
Nunno, M. A., McCabe, L. A., Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Sellers, D. E., & Holden, M. J. (2021). A 26-year study of restraint fatalities among children and adolescents in the United States: A failure of organizational structures and processes. Child & Youth Care Forum. doi:10.1007/s10566-021-09646-w
Nunno, M., Rauktis, M. B., & Schwartz, S. A.-. (2020). Safety Perceptions of Children and Youth in Out-Of-Home Care. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 37(2). doi:10.1080/0886571X.2020.1723207
Sellers, D. E., Smith, E. G., Izzo, C. V., McCabe, L. A., & Nunno, M. A. (2020). Child Feelings of Safety in Residential Care: The Supporting Role of Adult-Child Relationships. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth. 37(2). 136-155.
Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Sellers, D. E., Holden, M. J., & Nunno, M. A. (2020). Improving relationship quality in group care settings: The impact of implementing the CARE model. Children and Youth Services Review, 109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104623
Nunno, M. A., Smith, E. G., Martin W. R., & Butcher, S. (2017) Translating practice into research: An example of agency and university collaboration. Journal of Child Welfare. 94(3). 113-133.
Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Holden, M. J., Norton, C. I., Nunno, M. A., & Sellers, D. E. (2016). Intervening at the Setting-Level to Prevent Behavioral Incidents in Residential Child Care: Efficacy of the CARE Program Model. Prevention Science(17), 554-564. doi:10.1007/s11121-016-0649-0
Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Holden, M.J., Norton-Barker, C. I., Nunno, M.A. & Sellers, D. (2016) Prevention Sciences. 17(5), 554-564.
Holden, M.J., Anglin, J.P., Nunno, M.A., & Izzo, C.V. (2014). Engaging the total therapeutic residential care program in a process of quality improvement: Learning from the care model In J. K. Whittaker, J. Fernandez Del Valle & L. Holmes (Eds.), Therapeutic residential care with children and youth: Identifying promising pathways to evidence-based international practice. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.
Nunno, M. A., Sellers, D.E., & Holden, M. J. (2014). Implications of translational research for the field of residential child care. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care. 13(3).
Masters, J.K., Nunno, M., & Mooney, A.J. (2013). Should psychiatrists assist in the restraint of children and adolescents in psychiatric hospitals? Psychiatric Services, 64(2), 173-176. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.001652012
Le Bel, J., Nunno, M., & Mohr, W. & O’Halloran, R. (2012) Restraint and seclusion use in U.S. schools: Recommendations from allied treatment disciplines. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 82(1), 75-86.
Mohr, W. K. & Nunno, M. A. (2011) Black boxing restraints: The need for full disclosure and consent. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 20(1), 38-47. DOI 10.1007/s10826-010-9375-6
Holden, M. J., Izzo, C., Nunno, M., Smith, E. G., Endres, T., Holden, J. C., et al. (2010) Children and residential experiences: A comprehensive strategy for implementing a research-informed program model for residential care. Child Welfare. 89(2), 131-149.
Current member of the
National Association of Social Workers.
National Organization of Forensic Social Worker
Assessing multi-level change: Update on quasi-experimental study of the CARE program. Presented at the European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) Conference. Glasgow, Scotland, September 4-7, 2012.
Organizational toxicity in children’s treatment facilities that leads to violence and maltreatment. Presented keynote at the British Institute for Learning Disabilities – Positive Behavioural Support conference. Glasgow, Scotland. May 8, 2014
Data-mining your own reports: A useful process in organizational reflection and learning. Presented at the Silberman Conference. Sponsored by the City University of New York & the Icahan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. New York City. June 11, 2014.
A case study using critical incident administrative data to measure implementation and sustainability. Presented at the European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) conference. Copenhagen, Denmark. September 2-5, 2014
Documenting quality in complex residential child care systems: Challenges with assessing fidelity to a principle-based program model. Presented at the 16th National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium. University of California at Berkeley. May 23, 2016.
Organizational toxicity in children’s treatment facilities that leads to violence and maltreatment. Presented keynote at the British Institute for Learning Disabilities – Positive Behavioural Support conference. Birmingham, England. March 5-6, 2018
Perceptions of Safety in Child Welfare: Contrasting Child and Adult Perspectives. Developed and coordinated with James Anglin, University of Victoria, CA, this symposium for the European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) conference. Porto, Portugal, October 2-5, 2018.
Organizational systems to implement and sustain positive behavior support and restraint reduction in schools. Presented a master class at the Queensland Department of Education conference on Positive Behavior Support, Brisbane, AU. June 24-26, 2019.
Lessons learned from Allied Treatment Disciplines in Preventing and Managing Critical Incidents in Schools. Presented a workshop at the Queensland Department of Education conference on Positive Behavior Support, Brisbane, AU. June 24-26, 2019.
Past Principal Investigator, New York State Child Protective Services Institute
Past Principal Investigator, Residential Child Care Project
Past Principal Investigator, Duke Endowment CARE Implementation and Research Project
1997, DSW, Social Work, The Graduate School-City University of New York
1970, MSW, Social Work, Boston College school of Social Work
1967, BA, Humanities, St. Michael's College