Dr. Whittaker’s research and teaching interests encompass the integration of evidence-based practices into contemporary child and family services including residential treatment, therapeutic foster care and intensive community and family-centered treatment alternatives, child welfare history and cross-national comparisons of child and family policy and services. A frequent contributor to the professional literature, Dr. Whittaker is author/co-author/editor of 9 books and over 100 peer review papers and book chapters. In all, his works have been translated into Dutch, Danish, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Dr. Whittaker earned an A.B. from Boston College and a M.S.W. from the University of Michigan.
He has served on the editorial review boards of a number of social service journals including: Social Service Review: 1999-2017 (U.S.); Journal of Public Child Welfare: 2005--present (U.S.); The British Journal of Social Work: 2000-2019 (U.K.); Child & Family Social Work:1997-present (U.K.) ; International Journal of Child & Family Welfare:1995-present(Netherlands) ; Children & Youth Services Review: 1979-1994 (U.S.) and Residential Treatment for Children and Youth: 2015-present(U.S.). He is a founding member of IAOBER, The International Association for Outcome-Based Evaluation and Research on Family & Children’s Services (Padova, Italy): 2001-2019 and served as an Associated Board member of EUSARF, the European Scientific Association for Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (Groningen, The Netherlands) from 2003-2017. Dr. Whittaker is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Association of Children’s Residential Services (ACRC) in 2011 and The European Scientific Association for Residential and Family Care (EUSARF) in 2018.
From its inception, Dr. Whittaker has served as co-convenor for The International Work Group for Therapeutic Residential Care (TRC) established in April 2016 following an invitational summit hosted by Dr. Lisa Holmes, Director of the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University, UK and supported by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. The summit focused on identifying future directions for therapeutic residential care with a specific emphasis on identifying pathways to evidence-based practices. Based on an earlier critical review volume of TRC (Whittaker, del Valle & Holmes, 2015), the 32 participants from over a dozen countries produced a consensus statement containing a working definition of TRC, a set of principles and pathways for future research: Whittaker, J.K. , Holmes, L., del Valle, J.F., Ainsworth, F., Andreassen, T., Anglin, J., Bellonci, C., Berridge, D., Bravo, A., Canali, C., Courtney, M., Currey, L., Daly, D., Gilligan, R., Grietens, H., Harder, A., Holden, M. James, S., Kendrick, A., Knorth, E., Lausten, M., Lyons, J., Martin, E., McDermid, S., McNamara, P., Palareti, L., Ramsey, S., Sisson, K. Small, R., Thoburn, J., Thompson, R., and Zeira, A. (2016) Therapeutic Residential Care for Children and Youth: A Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth. 33, 2, 89–106.
Subsequently, through the efforts of work group members, the consensus statement has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Japanese and disseminated in appropriate professional journals in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Israel and Japan. The Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care has been endorsed by the following associations: The European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF); The International Association for Outcome-Based Evaluation and Research on Family and Children’s Services (IAOBER); The Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC) (USA); and The Centre of Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS). Following these original activities, The International Work Group for TRC continues to provide a vehicle where researchers and service leaders can critically review promising practice innovations in their respective countries, identify pathways for research and evaluation of TRC and participate in collaborative research and cross-national exchange.
"Technology now affords us the opportunity to carry on a sustained conversation between child & family researchers, practitioners and policy makers and conduct cross-national analyses of critical service issues. Of particular interest, are the subtle ways in which promising ‘model interventions’ are shaped and altered to fit differing political, socio-cultural and regional contexts. Despite our great size and wealth, U.S. child and family policy & practice remains insular in its thinking and much in need of fresh perspectives on how differing societies deal with common service challenges." — Dr. James Whittaker