Megan R. Holmes, PhD

Assistant Professor

PhD, University of California Los Angeles
MSW, University of California Los Angeles
BA, San Diego State University
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel
School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-7164


Using her clinical experience with families from domestic violence households to set the foundation for her research, the overarching goal of Megan Holmes’ work is to contribute to the optimal development of children who have been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) by identifying risk and protective factors that can be translated into interventions.

Read full biosketch.

Course List

  • SASS 477 – Direct Practice Foundation Methods and Skills

Awards, Fellowships and Honors

  • National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood Dissertation Fellowship: 2010-2012
  • 2012 Society for Social Work and Research Doctoral Fellows Award
  • Collegium of University Teaching Fellows: 2011

Scholarly Interests

  • Child exposure to intimate partner violence
  • Maternal parenting
  • Sibling relationships

Recent Publications

Freisthler, B. & Holmes, M.R. (in press).  Explicating the social mechanisms linking substance use behaviors and ecology to child maltreatment.  Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

Holmes, M. R. (2013)Sleeper effect of intimate partner violence exposure: Long-term consequences on young children’s aggressive behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 54(9), 986–995. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12071

Holmes, M. R. (2013). Aggressive behavior of children exposed to intimate partner violence: An examination of maternal mental health, maternal warmth and child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect. 37(8), 520-530. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.12.006

Freisthler, B., Kepple, N.U., Holmes, M.R. (2012).  The geography of drug market activities and child maltreatment.  Child Maltreatment, 17 (2), 144-152. doi:10.1177/1077559512443124.

Clapp, J. D., Reed, M. B, Min, J. W., Shillington, A. M., Croff, J., Holmes, M. R., & Trim, R. (2009). Blood alcohol concentrations among bar patrons: A multi-level study of drinking behavior. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 104, 272–273.

Recent Presentations

Holmes, M.R., (January, 2013). The sleeper effect of intimate partner violence exposure: long-term consequences on young children’s aggressive behavior. Symposium presentation,  Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, San Diego, CA.


Megan Holmes in the News:

Megan Holmes leads study of sibling relationships and maternal warmth to help abused children

May 21 2015

holmesResearchers at Case Western Reserve University have begun studying 1,700 children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) database to understand how mothers and siblings can protect abused children who have witnessed family violence.

“I want to focus on their positive characteristics in protecting children and eventually create an intervention that builds on those strengths,” said Dr. Megan R. Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Mandel School.

Holmes is leading the two-year project, “The Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting.” The study builds on Holmes’ investigations into intimate partner violence (IPV) between adults in the home and how it affects children, both physically and psychologically.

All the children selected from the NSCAW database have been investigated by Child Protective Services for some form of maltreatment.

The survey’s information provides researchers with first-hand accounts by parents, teachers and caseworkers about the children’s circumstances. Each child has had data collected about his or her family life at four different times from birth to 11 years old.

Holmes received $158,500 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (grant #1R03HD078416-01A1) to support the project. She will be assisted by Dr. Adam Perzynski, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Sonia Minnes, associate professor of social work at the Mandel School.

The project will examine the relationship between child abuse (neglect, physical and/or psychological mistreatment), sibling dynamics (birth order, gender and number of children in the family), maternal warmth (nurturing, support, love, concern, comfort and trust) and the social and emotional adjustment of the abused children over time.

“Better sibling relationships have better outcomes,” Holmes said.

Holmes has witnessed how older children have protected and shielded younger family members from seeing and hearing violence in the homes. As a result, however, the older children tend to have more mental health problems, she said.

Through her research, Holmes hopes to change that outcome and learn how:

  • Internal and external behavior patterns and social skills develop in IPV-exposed children;
  • Child abuse effects this behavioral and social development in IPV-exposed children;
  • Sibling factors can work to protect the abused child exposed to IPV in the home;
  • And what particularly in maternal warmth buffers children against witnessing and experiencing family violence.

Holmes also has a study underway examining the quality of sibling relationships, which she expects to contribute to designing an intervention that focuses on positive factors in those relationships.

Visit with us at SSWR 2015

Jan 15 2015

SSWR 2015The Mandel School will have a substantial presence at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) 2015 Annual Conference this week in New Orleans. Stop by Booth #100 to visit with Dean Grover “Cleve” Gilmore, faculty and PhD students who are gathered for the event. Additionally, the following papers and posters will be presented at SSWR (faculty names are in bold and doctoral students/graduates are in italics):

  • Suzanne Brown & Elizabeth M. Tracy, PhD: Parenting competence and the role of children for mothers recovering from substance dependence
  • Youngmin Cho & Kyung-Hoon Han: Mediating role of self-esteem on the relationship between exposure to violence and self-rate health among South Korean middle school
  • Youngmin Cho & Claudia J. Coulton, PhD: The effects of parental nonstandard work schedules on adolescents’ academic achievement in dual-earner kouseholds in South Korea
  • Chia Ling Chung: Empowerment as a mediator in the relationship between social support and internalized stigma in family caregivers of adults with severe mental illness
  • Chia Ling Chung, David E. Biegel, PhD, Ching Wen Chang: Loneliness as a mediator in the relationship between social support and quality of life in adults with severe mental illness
  • David Crampton, PhD; S. K. Bearman, K. Corteselli, & Susan Yoon: Ongoing efforts to develop the evidence-base of team decision making
  • Janelle Duda; Fred Butcher, PhD; Daniel Flannery, PhD; Jeffrey M. Kretschmar, PhD; Stephen Morgano: Individuals with open warrants: Motivations for surrendering at a church
  • Eunlye Lee, Anna Maria Santiago, PhD, & G.C. Galster: Neighborhood influences on smoking and marijuana use among low-income African American and Latino adolescents
  • Hyung Yong Park, Elizabeth M. Tracy, PhD & Meeyoung Oh Min, PhD: Longitudinal associations among sobriety support, substance using members, and substance use at 6 and 12 months post treatment
  • Susan Yoon & Megan R. Holmes, PhD: Child exposure to violence: The underlying effect of trauma symptoms on behavior problems.

$200,000 Federal Grant Received to Study Children Who Thrive Despite Abuse

Nov 24 2014

Megan HolmesThe Mandel School received a two-year, $200,000 grant to study why some children thrive, achieve and develop despite being abused and witnessing violence in the home.

Megan R. Holmes, PhD, assistant professor of social work and the study’s lead investigator, believes the research could potentially help victims of abuse and neglect by learning why some children are more resilient to it. By understanding child resiliency, social workers and policymakers can implement interventions and programs that focus on protective factors that promote resiliency in maltreated children.

Dr. Holmes said such mistreatment is a prevalent public health concern that has both immediate and long-term consequences on a child’s behavior and academic performance. In 2012, Child Protective Services’ national report, “Child Maltreatment 2012,” found that 686,000 children suffered maltreatment, defined as abuse and neglect.

The training grant provides support for three studies: one by Dr. Holmes and two dissertations by Mandel School doctoral students Julia Kobulsky and Susan Yoon, whom Dr. Holmes will mentor. The researchers will study children from 3 to 17 years old.

Kobulsky will examine the use of substances in children up to age 17, with a particular interest in those who begin using before age 13. Yoon will study the development of behavioral problems of children 4 to 13. Dr. Holmes’ study will focus on how witnessing domestic violence in the home impacts the academic performance from preschool to middle school.

The grant is provided by U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Fellowships for University-Based Doctoral Candidates and Faculty for Research in Child Maltreatment from the Administration of Children, Youth and Families’ division of the Children’s Bureau.

The Mandel School was among five nationally to receive the federal grant.

The researchers intend to share what they learn with social workers and policymakers who work with and address children’s issues. They expect to present their findings during a symposium in 2016 with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.