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College of Social Work

Faculty and Staff

Yanfeng Xu, Ph.D., MSW

Title: Assistant Professor
College of Social Work
Phone: 803-777-2215
Office: Hamilton 117
Resources: Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar

Research gate
Yanfeng, Xu

Research Expertise:

  • Foster care and kinship care 
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Child mental/behavioral health
  • Grandparents raising grandchildren 

Teaching Expertise:

  • Research methods  
  • Program evaluation
  • Human behaviors and the social environment
  • Child welfare policy and service 


Assistant Professor Yanfeng Xu joined the faculty of the College of Social Work in 2019 after earning her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Dr. Xu is also an affiliate faculty associate for the Research Consortium on Children and Families and the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies. Dr. Xu was inducted into the class of Fellows of the Society for Social Work and Research in 2024.

Dr. Xu’s research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, the Duke Endowment Foundation, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Health Care, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and university ASPIRE, EXCEL, and Racial Justice programs. To date, Xu has published 49 peer-reviewed journal articles, with 27 as the first author, five book chapters, three book reviews, six conference abstracts, and 77 conference presentations. Her work has been featured in top-tier journals such as Child Abuse and Neglect, Child Maltreatment, and Children and Youth Services Review.

Dr. Xu’s primary research interest is to improve the well-being of children in kinship care and non-kin foster care by translating research into practice and policy. Xu has used nationally representative datasets, linked administrative data, primary surveys, and qualitative interviews, as well as interventions to enhance the well-being of kinship families, including grandparents raising grandchildren, locally, nationally, and globally. Currently, Xu is working with her collaborators to implement and evaluate a kin support program, “KinCarolina.”

Dr. Xu's work also aims to improve foster children’s access to various resources, particularly mental health services and post-secondary education opportunities. In addition to analyzing nationally representative and large-scale datasets, Xu uses a mixed-method study design to unpack foster children’s use of mental health services, particularly telemental health services in South Carolina. Additionally, Xu is currently implementing and evaluating an intervention, “Better Futures,” to improve foster children’s access to post-secondary education.

Dr. Xu’s work also focuses on child welfare system building and workforce development, both locally and internationally. She has collaborated with multidisciplinary partners, including those in law, education, journalism, communications, psychology, sociology, and public health, to enhance various aspects of child welfare system issues and workforce development.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.