You are here

Kristina Lovato

Dr. Kristina Lovato, PhD, MSW, joined the School of Social Work faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2017. Dr. Lovato’s scholarly work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and she has presented at national conferences. As a social work educator, Dr. Lovato draws upon over 10 years of clinical experience serving diverse children and families as a bilingual child welfare social worker, child therapist, and school-based mental health clinician. She formerly served as a lecturer and the Project Coordinator for the Title IV-E Program in the School of Social Work at San Francisco State University and as a Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at CSU Fullerton. Dr. Lovato serves on the Board of Directors at Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.


  • B.A., Saint Mary's College of California, 2000
  • M.S.W., San Francisco State University, 2006
  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2017

Curriculum Vitae (CV)


Dr. Lovato’s scholarly work focuses on enhancing Latinx child and family well-being particularly among immigrant families at risk of immigration enforcement and/or public child welfare involvement. Her research agenda aims to improve policies and systems that serve Latinx children and immigrant families that are culturally responsive and increase equity in access and well-being outcomes.


Her first line of inquiry employs critical theoretical, and intersectional qualitative methodological approaches designed to examine the impact of immigration policy on Latinx immigrant child and family well-being. During the height of the pandemic (summer 2020), she conducted an intramurally funded qualitative study that examined the impact of immigration policy and the COVID-19 pandemic on family separation and risk for child welfare involvement.  A call-to-action essay was published in the Child Welfare League of America’s Child Welfare journal (December 2020). 


Dr. Lovato’s second line of research examines social and structural inequities associated with race, gender, and socioeconomic status in the provision of services to Latinx populations. This work aims to enhance service provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services to Latinx families at risk of/ or involved in child welfare and other systems involvement. In her most recent intramurally funded national study, as a Co-PI, she elicits the perspectives of child welfare agency representatives – both administrators and frontline staff – about the challenges and barriers to serving their immigrant populations during the global pandemic and how the service needs of this immigrant population may have changed during COVID-19. This study also explores adaptations and innovations that have been adopted by agencies in response to COVID-19.


In her third line of research which examines maltreatment prevention in Latinx immigrant communities, Dr. Lovato challenges the traditional deficit-centered representations of Latinx families and communities via public policy and institutions. In the coming years, she expects to be able to lead research aimed at improving safety net systems and prevention services in support of Latinx immigrant children and families. Dr. Lovato’s scholarly work has been published in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and she has presented at premier national social work and immigration conferences.


  • Child Welfare
  • Latino/a immigrant youth and families
  • International migration policy
  • Maltreatment prevention in underrepresented communities
  • Cultural competence in social service provision


She teaches courses in Child Welfare Practice, Social Work Practice with Latinx Populations, Applied Projects, Group Work, and Human Behavior and the Social Environment.