Professional Biography

Dr. Fantuzzo is director of the Penn Child Research Center at Penn GSE and the co-director of the Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy national network. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, Dr. Fantuzzo took a faculty position at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology and developed the Covenant House, a residential facility for children with serious emotional disorders. In 1983, he joined the faculty at the University of Rochester to work as a research associate at the Mt. Hope Family Center, a special research and treatment facility for young victims of child maltreatment. In 1986, he took a faculty position at California State University at Fullerton to work with a large, diverse Head Start program in Santa Ana. Working with Head Start, he examined the impact of maltreatment and domestic violence on children’s development and learning. This work paved the way for Dr. Fantuzzo’s joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. Since that time, he has been involved in many foundation, state, and federally funded research projects that have involved extensive work with the City of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia’s early childhood programs, building sustainable research and service capacities. He serves on the editorial boards of major research journals in education and early childhood (e.g., Educational Researcher, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Journal of School Psychology, and Children and Youth Services Review). He is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement and the National Head Start Research Mentor awards. Dr. Fantuzzo presented the 2009 Albert M. Greenfield Memorial Lecture, The Educational Well-Being of African-American Boys. To read about the lecture, click here.

Research Interests and Current Projects

At the macro-level, he co-developed the Kids Integrated Data System (KIDS) for Philadelphia, which was one of the first fully integrated data systems providing research and planning information to inform public services. Based on the success of KIDS, he partnered with Dennis Culhane to develop and co-direct Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP), a MacArthur-funded national network of integrated data systems. The network serves state and local governments, representing over 30% of the U.S. population. Through AISP, he has promoted the use of IDS through (1) identifying best practices, (2) assisting in the development of local and state IDSs, and (3) using AISP Network sites to conduct large multi-site research. This model for integrating data across education, health, and human service agencies, both in Philadelphia and nationally, has been used to study how various publically monitored risks affect the educational well-being of subgroups of vulnerable children and youth. Dr. Fantuzzo and his colleagues have published over 25 major population-based studies using IDS to produce quality evidence for community leaders advancing city-wide policies and practices for young children. He also conducted research for the Pennsylvania State Office of Child Development and Early Learning examining PA’s Quality Rating Improvement System and kindergarten readiness assessment.

At the micro-level, Dr. Fantuzzo has developed and tested school-based interventions using large-scale randomized control trial designs, which can be found in the Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse. He was the principal investigator, along with Vivian Gadsden and Paul McDermott, for the development and validation of the Evidence based Program for Integrated Curricula (EPIC), a comprehensive school-readiness program for Head Start, which was successfully tested with a randomized control trial across the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). He is also the developer or co-developer of a number of published assessment tools validated for young children and families from low-income households that are used nationally and internationally. He recently completed a large longitudinal study with Paul McDermott examining the transition of Approaches to Learning Skills from Head Start to second grade using a vertically scaled multidimensional measure developed with Paul McDermott and Vivian Gadsden.


Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, 1980
M.A. (Honorary) University of Pennsylvania, 1990
M.A. (Theology) Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976
B.A. (Psychology) Marietta College, 1974

Areas of Expertise

Early childhood risk

Early childhood education, Head Start

Use of Integrated Data Systems for social policy research

Child maltreatment and family violence

Selected Publications