Kess Ballentine

Kess Ballentine is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her MSW and her doctoral certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from North Carolina State University and her bachelor’s degree in Health Policy and Administration with distinguished honors at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as an elementary special educator, as well as on an NIMH-funded intervention study for children with mental health and behavioral disorders. Kess has also worked as a domestic violence advocate and a community program developer. Through her practice, she has gained insight into the fields of education, mental health, and child welfare and is now applying this knowledge as an engaged researcher advocating for improved cross-system communication and attention to parent-defined needs.

Kess uses a critical perspective to understand the intersections of poverty, gender, and race/ethnicity in the lives of parents and children involved with child-serving systems. She has published on these topics in Families in Society and the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. She currently works on the Pittsburgh Wage Study focusing on the interactions of work, poverty, and parenting. Her dissertation continues this work, examining how parents navigate the complex terrain of home, work, school, and their personal parenting values when working jobs that have been documented to create barriers to parenting.

Representative Publications

Ballentine, K.L. (2019). Understanding Racial Differences in Diagnosing ODD Versus ADHD Using Critical Race Theory. Families in Society.

Farmer, E.M.Z, Murray, M., Ballentine, K.L., Rauktis, M. & Burns, B.J. (2017). Would we know it if we saw it? Assessing quality of care in group homes for youth. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems (25)1, 28-36.