Megan R. Holmes, PhD

Assistant Professor

PhD, University of California Los Angeles
MSW, University of California Los Angeles
BA, San Diego State University

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Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Room 110
Case Western Reserve University
11235 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106


Using her clinical experience with families from domestic violence households to set the foundation for her research, the overarching goal of Dr. Holmes’s 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 will be translated into interventions. Read full biosketch >>

In Spring 2017, Dr. Holmes published three new documents on her research for the HealthPath Foundation:

  • Impact of Domestic Violence Exposure: Recommendations to Better Serve Ohio’s Children. This full report details the short- and long-term effects on children, the impact of domestic violence on parenting, the impact of the legal system on children and families, and the economic impact. It also includes interventions for a variety of ages and situations and the recommendations on what Ohio can do to better serve its children.
  • Executive Summary: This stand-alone document highlights the findings of the report and gives a brief outline of the recommendations.
  • Research Methodology: This document explains the research methods and how calculations were made for the report.

Course List

Masters Courses

  • SASS 477: Direct Practice Foundation Methods and Skills
  • SASS 549: Theory and Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work
  • SASS 555: Women’s Issues

Doctoral Courses

  • SASS 631: Job Seekers Seminar

Doctoral Student Mentoring

Dr. Holmes is passionate about her ongoing work with the Mandel School doctoral and master’s students. She provides multiple training opportunities to learn essential research and scholarship skills to facilitate the development of becoming a productive independent scholar. For example, under the mentorship of Dr. Holmes students obtain authorship on publications; learn the process of grant writing; present research at national conferences; and develop their own clear independent research and scholarship plan. Her federal grants provide funded research opportunities to her students. She also welcomes the opportunity for doctoral students to participate in a teaching mentorship for her current courses.

Scholarly Interests

  • Intimate partner violence exposure
  • Child maltreatment
  • Sibling relationships and maternal parenting
  • Early childhood development

Current Funded Research

Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes
NIH NICHD (Grant Number 1R03HD078416-01A1), $158,500. 4/10/2015–3/31/2017Effects of instructional strategies on social work student learning outcomes
Co-Principal Investigators: Megan Holmes & Zoe Wood
Case Western Reserve University, Nord Grant, $5,000. 1/5/2015–12/18/2017Multilevel Protective Factors that Promote Well-Being for Maltreated Children
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes.
Administration of Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau (Grant Number 90CA1817-01-00), $200,000. 9/30/2014–9/21/2016Sibling Relationships and the Psychobiology of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure: A Pilot Study
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes.
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences Research and Training Development Grant, $13,000. 9/1/2013–6/30/2016
Holmes, M. R., Yoon, S., Voith, L. A., Kobulsy, J. & Steigerwald, S. (2015). Resilience in physically abused children: Protective factors for aggression. Behavioral Sciences, 5, 176–189. doi: 10.3390/bs5020176

Holmes, M. R., Tracy, E. M., Painter, L. L., Oestreich, T., & Park, H. (2015) Moving from flipcharts to the flipped classroom: Using technology-driven teaching methods to promote active learning in foundation and advanced master’s social work courses. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43, 215–224. doi: 10.1007/s10615-015-0521-x

Holmes, M.R., Voith, L.A., & Gromoske, A. (2015). Lasting effect of IPV exposure during preschool on aggressive behavior and prosocial skills. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 30(10), 1651­–1670. doi: 10.1177/0886260514552441

Voith, L.A., Gromoske, A., & Holmes, M.R. (2014). Effects of cumulative violence exposure on children’s trauma and depression symptoms: A social ecological examination using fixed effects regression. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 7(4), 207-216. doi: 10.1007/s40653-014-0026-8

Freisthler, B. Holmes, M. R., & Wolf, J. P. (2014) The dark side of social support: Understanding the role of social support, drinking behaviors and alcohol outlets for child physical abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect. 36(6), 1106-1119.

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

Holmes, M. R., Yoon, S., Voith, L. A., Kobulsy, J. & Steigerwald, S. (2015). Resilience in physically abused children: Protective factors for aggression. Oral presentation at the Council on Social Work Education 61th Annual Program Meeting, Denver, CO, October 2015.


Yoon, S., Steigerwald, S., & Holmes, M. R. Child exposure to violence: The underlying effect of trauma symptoms on behavior problems. Electronic poster presentation at the Society for Social Work and Research 19th Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, January 2015


Holmes, M. R., Tracy, E. M., Painter, L. L., & Oestreich, T. D. From flipcharts to the flipped classroom: Using technology to promote clinical skills. Faculty Development Institute at the Council on Social Work Education 60th Annual Program Meeting, Tampa, FL, October 2014.


Holmes, M. R., Voith, L. A., & Gromeske, A. N. Lasting Effect of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure During Preschool: Cross-Lagged Analyses of Aggressive Behavior and Prosocial Skills. Oral paper presentation at the Society for Social Work Research 18th Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2014.


Voith, L. A., Gromeske, A. N., & Holmes, M. R. An Ecological Examination of Cumulative Violence Exposure on Children’s Trauma and Depression Symptoms. Oral paper presentation at the Society for Social Work Research 18th Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2014.


Holmes, M. R. Maternal warmth and depression: Long-term effects on domestic violence-exposed children’s aggressive behavior and prosocial skills. Poster presented at Zero to Three: 28th Annual National Training Institute, San Antonio, TX, December 2013.


Holmes, M. R. Developmental Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure on Young Children’s Social Behavior. Oral paper presentation at the 18th International Conference & Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma, San Diego, CA, September 2013.


Holmes, M. R. The Sleeper Effect of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure: Long-Term Consequences On Young Children’s Aggressive Behavior. Oral paper presentation as part of the Identifying and Maximizing Opportunities for Intervention in Infancy and Early Childhood Symposium at Society for Social Work Research 17th Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, January 2013.


Megan Holmes in the News:

One In Four Ohio Children Will Experience Domestic Violence, Study Led by Holmes Finds

Jul 21 2017

One in four Ohio children will experience domestic violence before reaching adulthood, according to a new study conducted at the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University.

The lifetime cost from these experiences is nearly $2.2 billion, including $476 million in increased health care, $600 million associated with crime and $1.1 billion in productivity losses, according to estimates in the report.

Conducted on behalf of The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, the study sought to determine the extent and expense of domestic violence, as well as the gaps in addressing its roots and aftermath. It was funded with a $75,000 grant.

The report highlights the gap between the number of children in Ohio experiencing violence each year, about 168,000, and those who received help for it in 2016—only about half of them.

“Domestic violence carries lifetime consequences for children that have enormous costs on our society and public resources,” said Megan R. Holmes, PhD, lead researcher of the report and an assistant professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve.

When left unaddressed, domestic violence—defined as witnessing or being victimized by physical or sexual acts, stalking or psychological aggression—puts children at higher risk of developing behavioral, mental, social and physical problems.

“This report shines a light on the long-term human and financial costs of violence, which is preventable and can be identified early and addressed by appropriate services and strategies,” Holmes said.

Researchers found a dramatic disparity among Ohio counties, in terms of the number of domestic violence incidents and services offered, as well as significant variations in the enforcement and treatment of domestic violence cases.

A statewide survey of agencies providing relevant services showed a lack of resources, coordination and access. Nearly 90 percent of these organizations pledged to expand services, if resources were made available.

What is to be done?

The report collects and highlights strategies proven to identify and help children already exposed to violence, as well as preventive efforts, such as programs targeting teen dating violence in fifth and sixth grades to complement current offerings in higher grades.

Researchers also recommend making efficient use of existing resources, such as providing training to educators to spot the symptoms of violent trauma in children and improving coordination between Child Protective Services and domestic violence agencies, police and medical, educational and substance use services.

“We hope these findings speak to policymakers and help them make informed decisions about preventive and therapeutic services,” Holmes said. “This is about the future of Ohio’s children and the adults they’ll become, which will shape our state and its economy for decades.”

Addressing violence could also have positive ripple effects for children at risk: If exposed to violence, they have twice the odds of being neglected and are 2.6 times more likely to be physically abused, 4.9 times more likely to be sexually abused and 9.6 times more likely to be psychologically abused, according to research highlighted in the report.

Research collaborators on the paper, “Impact of Domestic Violence Exposure: Recommendations to Better Serve Ohio’s Children,” were Francisca G.-C. Richter, PhD, a research assistant professor at the Mandel School’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development; Mark Votruba, PhD, an associate professor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management; and Kristen Berg and Anna Bender, both doctoral students at the Mandel School.

Holmes Appointed to National Advisory Committee to Improve Child Welfare

Apr 28 2017
Megan Holmes

Megan R. Holmes, PhD, Assistant Professor, was appointed in March to the National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the National Quality Improvement Center on Child Welfare Involved Children and Families Experiencing Domestic Violence (QIC-CW/DV), a collaborative project led by Futures Without Violence (FUTURES) to research, analyze, and identify best practices for improving how child welfare agencies, domestic violence programs and other partners work collaboratively to improve outcomes for families experiencing domestic violence.

Dr. Holmes joins other experts in child welfare and domestic violence research, practice, and policy along with judicial leaders and those experienced in tribal law and practice, racial equity, and early childhood to provide strategic guidance at key points as the QIC-CW/DV is implemented.

The project is funded by a grant from the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will work collaboratively with The Center for the Study of Social Policy, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, and the Center for Health & Safety Culture at Montana State University.

Download the complete press release here.

Poly-victimization Across Social Contexts

Jan 20 2017

Fred Butcher, Senior Research Associate, and colleagues recently published an article examining childhood exposure to violence across social contexts.

Nationally, a large proportion of youth experience exposure to violence (ETV) in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods and research has consistently shown that ETV is linked to symptoms of trauma. Juvenile justice-involved youth are particularly at risk for ETV and accurate assessment for this population is vital to their treatment. We examined data from a sample of juvenile justice-involved youth and found that measures of ETV should take into account the cumulative effect of violence across multiple social contexts. Youth who experience ETV in homes, schools, and neighborhoods are particularly vulnerable since they are likely to have few, if any locations in which they feel safe from violence.

Butcher, F., Holmes, M. R., Kretschmar, J. M., & Flannery, D. J. (2016). Poly-victimization across social contexts: Home, school, and neighborhood violence exposure. Criminal Justice and Behavior. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0093854816662679