Sarah Avellar

Sarah Avellar

Principal Researcher
  • Family support
  • Systematic evidence reviews
  • Evaluation technical assistance
Focus Areas
  • Early Childhood
  • Child Development
  • Child Welfare
  • Family Support
  • Strengthening Families and Responsible Fatherhood
  • Human Services
About Sarah

Sarah Avellar's research interests include early childhood and family support. Much of her work focuses on low-income or vulnerable families, including nonresidential fathers, unmarried parents, and families at risk of child maltreatment. Her expertise in research methodology includes systematic evidence reviews and evaluation technical assistance.

In the area of fatherhood and healthy relationships, she is leading the impact study for Parents and Children Together (PACT), an experimental evaluation of responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage programs. She serves as deputy project director for the Fatherhood and Marriage Local Evaluation (FaMLE) and Cross-Site project, which provides evaluation technical assistance to responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage grantees funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

Avellar has played leading roles on systematic reviews to assess evidence of effectiveness on home visiting programs that serve pregnant women and families with children from birth to age 5, as well as the Strengthening Families Evidence Review (SFER), which identified, compiled, and reviewed the research evidence on programs to strengthen families and promote responsible fatherhood. For the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), she led reviewer training and certification and was the deputy principal investigator for early childhood education as well as early childhood education for children with disabilities.

Avellar provides evaluation technical assistance to help organizations conduct their own rigorous research. She is the co-principal investigator for a project that works with 17 programs for children who are in, or at risk of, out-of-home placements as a result of a parent or caretaker’s substance abuse, through collaborative efforts across the child welfare, substance abuse treatment, and court systems. She provides evaluation technical assistance for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evaluation Technical Assistance and Training project.

Avellar joined Mathematica in 2004. Her work has been published in the Journal of Marriage and Family and Pediatrics. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Key Projects
  • PACT Fathers
    Parents and Children Together (PACT)

    Parents and Children Together (PACT) is a six-year evaluation of the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grant program to help couples build and sustain healthy relationships and marriages, and to strengthen positive father-child interaction.

  • How Effective Is Home Visiting?

    The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness project is a thorough and transparent review of the home visiting research literature and an assessment of the evidence of effectiveness for home visiting models that serve families with pregnant women and children from birth to age 5.

  • Strengthening Families Evidence Review

    Mathematica conducted a systematic review of research on programs serving low-income fathers. The Strengthening Families Evidence Review included studies with a range of designs, such as those that assess program effectiveness and those that report on program implementation only.

Related Case Studies
  • HomVEE Literature Review Identifies Effective Home Visiting Programs

    The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allocated $1.5 billion over five years for the new Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) to establish home visiting programs for at-risk pregnant women and children up to age 5. As a requirement in the law, 75 percent...