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Amy Vargo, PhD

Amy Vargo, PhD








Dr. Vargo is an anthropologist and faculty member in the Department of Child & Family Behavioral Health at USF-FMHI with over eighteen years’ experience in behavioral health  and child welfare service evaluation and provision. She currently serves as a co-principal investigator to Florida’s Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation, as well as co-principal investigator for the implementation analysis of the State of Utah and State of Idaho IV-E Waiver evaluations. Title IV-E Waivers are federally funded initiatives designed to reduce the number of children in foster care and provide more funding flexibility for prevention and diversion services.

Dr. Vargo’s previous research experience includes serving as principal investigator of the Child Welfare Prepaid Mental Healthcare Evaluation, a study focused on examining the mental health needs of children in foster care receiving Medicaid-funded mental health services. Dr. Vargo has also served as principal investigator of the Foster Care Child Resiliency Study, examining resiliency and social capital of children in temporary shelter as well as long term, group foster care.

Of particular interest methodologically are holistic and participatory approaches to program evaluation, and in-depth, exploratory studies of external and contextual variables impacting child welfare system change.  Dr. Vargo is also interested in community governance and public private partnerships within mental health and child welfare service systems, with the goal of family preservation while maintaining child safety, permanency and well-being.


"It Takes Time to Shift Historical Paradigms": Changes in Structure, Governance, Perception, and Practice During a Decade of Child Welfare Policy Reform in Florida