Associate Professor Amy Wright

MSW, PhD
Associate Professor
Director, Institute of Open Adoption Studies

A35 - Education Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone 0286276119

Website LinkedIn
Institute for Open Adoption Studies
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Biographical details

Amy Conley Wright is Associate Professor of Social Work & Policy Studies at the University of Sydney and Director of the Institute of Open Adoption Studies. She leads a program of applied research focused primarily on building the evidence about children and their best interests in open adoption and other permanency pathways in out-of-home care. A key focus for the Institute research agenda is the active exchange of research findings into policy and practice through substantial engagement withpolicy makers, practitioners, judiciary and people with lived experience in out-of-home care and adoption.Her teaching, research, and practice experiences are in the areas of child advocacy, child and family policy,andfamilysupport. Her work has been recognised as influencing policy and practice in the U.S., Australia, Romania and other countries. She holds degrees in social work and child development.

Previous to her current appointment at the University of Sydney, Amy was Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Wollongong where she had a leadership role in developing the Bachelor of Social Work Program and Early Start Research Institute. From 2008-2013, Amy was Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University, where she led the Policy, Advocacy and Systems concentration. From 2004-2008, she held positions at the Center for Social Services Research and the Center for Child and Youth Policy (at University of California, Berkeley), where she led and contributed to child welfare research projects on the topics of reunification from out-of-home care, differential response, and analysis and geographical mapping of administrative child welfare data.From 2000-2001, she was the director of Romanian Children’s Relief, where she managed three programs that promoted children’s healthy development in orphanage and hospital settings. During her tenure, she lead the effort to design and implement a foster care support program for children transitioning from institutional care to family foster care, a program that has been recognized by the government of Romania as a best practice in foster care.

Amy has served as a board member of International Child Resource Institute, an advisory board member of Romanian Children’s Relief and Tipping Point Foundation and has provided consulting on child and family services for a number of organisations, including San Francisco Head Start, San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Ministry of Education for Brunei Darussalam. She currently serves on research advisory boards for NSW Family and Community Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study and Barnardos Australia’s Australian Open Adoption Outcomes Study. Her research has been featured in media, including ABC national news, ABC radio’s Life Matters program, and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Research interests

The Institute for Open Adoption Studies aims to facilitate a robust research program that will drive the creation of a comprehensive evidence base to inform the policies and practices for the adoption and out-of-home care sector, the judiciary, and government.

Our research agenda targets three specific areas of enquiry:

1. Family engagement and support

2. Open adoption practice enablers and barriers

3. Court and judiciary role and functions

Teaching and supervision

Interested in supervising HDR students who would like to study permanency, adoption, attachment, out-of-home care, working with birth parents, social work and judicial processes and other topics pertinent to the Institute of Open Adoption Studies.

Current research students

Project title Research student
The Child�s Voice and Choice in Care Proceedings: Are We Really Listening? Pei KONG

Current projects

  • Meanings of Permanency

Collaborative research exploring young people’s concepts of permanency and home when growing up in out-of-home care or alternative permanency pathways. This project uses the creative methodology Photovoice.

  • NSW Supreme Court Adoption Case file review

In-depth reviewof all open adoptions from out-of-home care completed in 2017,with permission from the NSW Supreme Court,to provide detailed analysis on contact arrangements, provisions for supporting cultural identity development and judicial decision-making regarding children’s best interests.

  • Measuring social investment for children in different child welfare permanency pathways

Secondary data analysis utilising the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study to explore key early-life predictors of positive outcomes later in life for children in different permanency arrangement pathways (Kinship care, guardianship, open adoption and long-term foster care).

  • Practice model for permanency

This project will review, design, trial and evaluate a practice framework for permanency support, in collaboration with theParenting Research Centre (PRC). The Institute is conducting a rapid evidence review on permanency practice, including the areas of restoration, kinship care, and adoption. This rapid review will contribute to developing a set of permanency practices, through co-design with non-governmental organisations.

  • NSW Family Group Conferencing Evaluation

Funded by NSW Government, this 2 year evaluation will assess the extent to which the NSW Family Group Conferencing program has contributed to reducing risks for children and young people, avoiding entries to care, and promoting engagement of families and communities in decision making. Mixed methods will be used for the implementation, outcome and economic evaluation, triangulating qualitative and quantitative data.

  • Research synthesis on priority vulnerable populations

Rapid evidence assessment to synthesiseliterature on risk indicators for two target vulnerability groups, critically assess the effectiveness of interventions that have been used to address these risk factors, highlight the most significant theories which inform these interventions, and overlay these findings with the current NSW service system to identify gaps, funded by Their Futures Matter, NSW Government.

  • Connecting to “Roots”: A study of Taiwan and Australian adoptions

As adoption practice becomes increasinglyopen, the perspectives of adoptees and their families are significant for understanding the desire and lived experience of connection in the context of intercountry adoption.This project has a ground-breaking focus on exploring perspectives on both sides of the intercountry adoption, including adopted children and adoptive parents in Australia, birth parents in Taiwan, and adoption professionals in both countries. This project is a collaboration between a research team based at University of Sydney and National Taiwan University.

Awards and honours

California State University Quality Online Learning and Teaching Award, 2013

Presidential Award for Professional Development of Probationary Faculty, San Francisco State University, 2012

Society for Social Work Research Doctoral Dissertation Fellow Award, 2007

Influencing Social Policy Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2006

In the media

2019, 24 June. Where’s William Tyrell? Channel 10 podcast, episode 2 - Two Families – Interview on New South Wales foster care system. https://10daily.com.au/news/a190628ghpmx/wheres-william-tyrrell-ep-2-missing-toddlers-foster-parents-speak-out-20190630

2019, 3rd February. 9 children were adopted by their carers in 3 years, of the 835 in care. The Canberra Times. Extensively quotes my commentary on reforms to adoption in the ACT. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/9-children-were-adopted-by-their-carers-in-3-years-of-the-835-in-care-20190102-p50p7t.html

2018, 11 April. What are the barriers to local adoption in Australia? Live national radio interview. ABC Radio National Life Matters. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/adoption-barriers/9638654

2017, 15 September. Open adoption. ABC TV Canberra.

2016, 2 August. Where kids do it tough, educators ease the strain. Early Learning Review. http://www.earlylearningreview.com.au/where-kids-do-it-tough-educators-ease-the-strain/

2016, 6 July. How do I navigate the NDIS? Live national radio interview. Radio National Life Matters. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/how-do-i-navigate-the-ndis/7571324

2016, 28 June. UOW helps parents prepare for the NDIS. http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3996250/uow-helps-parents-prepare-for-the-ndis/?cs=300

2015, 2 September. Is it possible to stop your child from swearing? ABC News 24 evening broadcast, live national television interview.

International links

Taiwan

(National Taiwan University) • Connecting to “Roots”: A study of Taiwan and Australian adoptions As adoption practice becomes increasingly open, the perspectives of adoptees and their families are significant for understanding the desire and lived experience of connection in the context of intercountry adoption. This project has a ground-breaking focus on exploring perspectives on both sides of the intercountry adoption, including adopted children and adoptive parents in Australia, birth parents in Taiwan, and adoption professionals in both countries. This project is a collaboration between a research team based at University of Sydney and National Taiwan University.

Selected grants

2017

  • Intercountry adoption of Taiwanese-born children by Australian families: Perspectives of adoptees, adoptive families, birth families and professionals; Wright A, Chen Y, Van Wichelen S, Spencer M; Office of Global Engagement/Partnership Collaboration Awards.
  • Measuring social investment for children in different child welfare permanency pathways: a scoping study; Wright A, Schurer S, Harmon C, Cashmore J, Zhou Q, Cobb-Clark D; DVC Research/Sydney Policy Lab.
  • Strong children, strong families: Building protective factors for children, families and educators in early childhood education & care; Wright A, Siraj I; Big Fat Smile Group/Industry Grant.

2016

  • Establishing an Institute of Open Adoption Studies at Sydney University; Wright A, Baines D, Laing L; Department of Family and Community Services (NSW)/Research Support.

2015

  • The Parent Room: Empowering parents and carers of children with disabilities through a peer support and advocacy intervention; Wright A; CareSouth/Commercial Grant.

2014

  • Starting strong: Making children resilient in early childhood; Wright A, Siraj I; Big Fat Smile Group/Industry and University Grant.

Selected publications & creative works

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Books

  • Wright, A., Jaffe, K. (2014). Six steps to successful child advocacy: Changing the world for children. London: Sage Publications Ltd. [More Information]

Edited Books

  • Midgley, J., Dahl, E., Wright, A. (2017). Social investment and social welfare: International and critical perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Midgley, J., Wright, A. (2010). Social work and social development: Theories and skills for developmental social work. New York: Oxford University Press.

Book Chapters

  • Wright, A. (2017). Social investment in early childhood in Australia. In J. Midgley, E. Dahl, A. C. Wright (Eds.), Social investment and social welfare: International and critical perspectives, (pp. 33-51). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2015). International perspectives on social work and social development: Strategies for developmental social work. Developmental social work: Theory and practice. Taipei, Taiwan: Eden Social Welfare Foundation.

Journals

  • Luu, B., Wright, A., Cashmore, J. (2019). Contact and adoption plans for children adopted from out-of-home care in New South Wales. Australian Social Work, Online first. [More Information]
  • Collings, S., Wright, A., Spencer, M., Luu, B. (2019). How foster carers experience agency support for birth family contact. Child and Family Social Work, Online first. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Warren, J., Burriel, K., Sinnott, L. (2019). Innovations in social welfare: Three variations on the Australian supported playgroup model. International Journal of Social Welfare, 28(3), 333-344. [More Information]
  • Luu, B., de Rosnay, M., Wright, A., Tregeagle, S. (2018). Identity formation in children and young people in open adoptions from out-of-home-care in New South Wales, Australia. Adoption Quarterly, 21(2), 120-139. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2018). Investing in adoption: Exploring child development accounts for children adopted from foster care. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 45(4), 129-146.
  • Collings, S., Neil, E., Wright, A. (2018). Practices to improve communication between birth parents and permanent families. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 20(2), 144-150.
  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2018). Strategies of Policy Advocacy Organizations and Their Theoretical Affinities: Evidence from Q-Methodology. Policy Studies Journal, 46(2), 298-326. [More Information]
  • Taylor, S., Wright, A. (2017). The role of not-for-profit organisations in supporting leadership in parents of children with disabilities: A cross-national perspective. Third Sector Review, 23(2), 81-107.
  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2015). Policy capacity is necessary but not sufficient: Comment on "Health reform requires policy capacity". International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 4(12), 837-839. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2015). Powerful parenting and enabling contexts: lessons to support academic success. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 23(2), 323-329. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Taylor, S. (2014). Advocacy by Parents of Young Children With Special Needs: Activities, Processes, and Perceived Effectiveness. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(5), 591-605. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Lamsal, D., Ksetree, M., Sharma, A., Jaffe, K. (2014). From maid to mother: Transforming facilities, staff training, and caregiver dignity in an institutional facility for young children in Nepal. Infant Mental Health Journal, 35(2), 132-143. [More Information]
  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2013). Policy Advocacy Organizations: A Framework Linking Theory and Practice. Journal of Policy Practice, 12(3), 163-193. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2013). Teaching about diverse families through case studies and authentic performance assessment. Family Science Review, 18(1), 134-154. [More Information]

Research Reports

  • de Rosnay, M., Luu, B., Wright, A. (2016). Young children's identity formation in the context of open adoption in NSW: An examination of optimal conditions for child wellbeing, Australia: The University of Sydney. [More Information]

2019

  • Luu, B., Wright, A., Cashmore, J. (2019). Contact and adoption plans for children adopted from out-of-home care in New South Wales. Australian Social Work, Online first. [More Information]
  • Collings, S., Wright, A., Spencer, M., Luu, B. (2019). How foster carers experience agency support for birth family contact. Child and Family Social Work, Online first. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Warren, J., Burriel, K., Sinnott, L. (2019). Innovations in social welfare: Three variations on the Australian supported playgroup model. International Journal of Social Welfare, 28(3), 333-344. [More Information]

2018

  • Luu, B., de Rosnay, M., Wright, A., Tregeagle, S. (2018). Identity formation in children and young people in open adoptions from out-of-home-care in New South Wales, Australia. Adoption Quarterly, 21(2), 120-139. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2018). Investing in adoption: Exploring child development accounts for children adopted from foster care. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 45(4), 129-146.
  • Collings, S., Neil, E., Wright, A. (2018). Practices to improve communication between birth parents and permanent families. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 20(2), 144-150.
  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2018). Strategies of Policy Advocacy Organizations and Their Theoretical Affinities: Evidence from Q-Methodology. Policy Studies Journal, 46(2), 298-326. [More Information]

2017

  • Midgley, J., Dahl, E., Wright, A. (2017). Social investment and social welfare: International and critical perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Wright, A. (2017). Social investment in early childhood in Australia. In J. Midgley, E. Dahl, A. C. Wright (Eds.), Social investment and social welfare: International and critical perspectives, (pp. 33-51). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. [More Information]
  • Taylor, S., Wright, A. (2017). The role of not-for-profit organisations in supporting leadership in parents of children with disabilities: A cross-national perspective. Third Sector Review, 23(2), 81-107.

2016

  • de Rosnay, M., Luu, B., Wright, A. (2016). Young children's identity formation in the context of open adoption in NSW: An examination of optimal conditions for child wellbeing, Australia: The University of Sydney. [More Information]

2015

  • Wright, A. (2015). International perspectives on social work and social development: Strategies for developmental social work. Developmental social work: Theory and practice. Taipei, Taiwan: Eden Social Welfare Foundation.
  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2015). Policy capacity is necessary but not sufficient: Comment on "Health reform requires policy capacity". International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 4(12), 837-839. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2015). Powerful parenting and enabling contexts: lessons to support academic success. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 23(2), 323-329. [More Information]

2014

  • Wright, A., Taylor, S. (2014). Advocacy by Parents of Young Children With Special Needs: Activities, Processes, and Perceived Effectiveness. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(5), 591-605. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Lamsal, D., Ksetree, M., Sharma, A., Jaffe, K. (2014). From maid to mother: Transforming facilities, staff training, and caregiver dignity in an institutional facility for young children in Nepal. Infant Mental Health Journal, 35(2), 132-143. [More Information]
  • Wright, A., Jaffe, K. (2014). Six steps to successful child advocacy: Changing the world for children. London: Sage Publications Ltd. [More Information]

2013

  • Gen, S., Wright, A. (2013). Policy Advocacy Organizations: A Framework Linking Theory and Practice. Journal of Policy Practice, 12(3), 163-193. [More Information]
  • Wright, A. (2013). Teaching about diverse families through case studies and authentic performance assessment. Family Science Review, 18(1), 134-154. [More Information]

2010

  • Midgley, J., Wright, A. (2010). Social work and social development: Theories and skills for developmental social work. New York: Oxford University Press.

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