Sandra Barrueco's Headshot


  • Psychology
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Assessment
  • Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Immigrants and Migrants
  • Young Children and Families
  • Multilingualism
  • Research Methods
  • Biography

    My research program utilizes a prevention science framework to examine and address developmental and mental health difficulties among language-minority, immigrant, and migrant children. Contributing to empirical and clinical advancements in this area are three interrelated investigative foci: 1) methodological improvements in the assessment and early identification of bilingual children, 2) expansion of the theoretical and research bases pertaining to developmental and clinical processes within immigrant children and their families, and 3) creation and examination of multisystemic preventive interventions fostering linguistic and socioemotional functioning. 

    For example, I created and led a nationally-representative study of Migrant and Seasonal Head Start with over 1400 participants focused on infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their agricultural families. My research was also referenced in the development of national requirements in the assessment of bilingual children. Most recently, I and my collaborators were awarded a grant to advance diversity, substance/opioid, and telehealth training in clinical psychology. These studies and initiatives have been fiscally supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, and Spencer Foundation, and other entities. 

    After nearly twenty years at CatholicU, I recently joined the faculty at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). I remain connected with CatholicU as a Research Associate.

    At Catholic University, I was the Director of the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology and member of the Children, Families, and Cultures Elective Focus. I also led the undergraduate Latin American and Latino Studies Minor and Certificate Degrees and founded the University’s Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies. In 2022, I became Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research in the School of Arts & Sciences.

    In terms of background and training, my undergraduate degrees are in Psychology & Economics from Amherst College, magna cum laude. I obtained my doctorate at the University of Denver in Clinical Child Psychology with an emphasis in Cognitive Neuroscience and a full-year nationally matched internship at Children’s National Medical Center in Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology. I subsequently focused on the identification and prevention of developmental and mental health difficulties as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neuropsychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute. I also completed a research Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, designing and conducting prevention and intervention science investigations. I am a Licensed Psychologist in Maryland and DC. 

    Finally, I engage in the local and national communities, currently serving on The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Forum for Children’s Well-Being. Past appointments include DC Bilingual Charter School Board, the Advisory Committee of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Immigration, the federal Expert Panel on Research Methods with Young Dual Language Learners, and the Policy and Communications Committee of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). Throughout my training and career, I have been dedicated to learning and utilizing advanced statistics, including latent variable and multilevel level modeling, to advance scientific knowledge and practice with young immigrant children and families. This approach is rooted in a community-based participatory research framework involving strong collaborations with families and the local and national programs that serve them. For more, see the Multicultural Child and Family Research Laboratory webpage.