Skip to main content

Carol Hafford

Pronouns: She/Her

Carol focuses on human services programs to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families and social service integration.

As an applied anthropologist, Carol conducts research and evaluations to address social needs and solve practical problems, with an explicit focus on understanding the culture, history, assets, and needs of people and communities. Carol has conducted studies in multiple policy areas, including early childhood and child welfare; youth transition to adulthood; workforce development and self-sufficiency; housing and homelessness; food security; and family and community strengthening. She values inclusive, equitable, collaborative, and multidisciplinary research.

Her interests include two-generation approaches to support family well-being, along with career pathways programs with supportive services to promote education attainment and sustained employment. Areas of methodological expertise include community-based, participatory research; human-centered design; conceptual frameworks; measure development; qualitative data collection and analysis; mixed method approaches; comparative case studies; process and outcome evaluations; implementation science; and survey research.

Carol is a senior advisor for Head Start Connects, a study of family support services (ACF), and contributes to NORC’s Head Start studies. She led the utilization-focused Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-system evaluation (ACF), and now leads a project to understand state and local early childhood workforce data systems (ASPE).

Over the past decade, Carol has engaged with tribal nations to conduct studies that respect sovereignty, foster cultural and scientific rigor, and share knowledge. Recently, she led the Tribal Health Profession Opportunities Grant (HPOG) 2.0 evaluation (ACF), building on her work with Tribal HPOG 1.0. For the Tribal TANF and child welfare coordination study (ACF), she documented grantees’ culturally responsive and systemic approaches. Carol led two nationally representative surveys in Indian Country, an assessment of American Indian and Alaska Native housing needs and conditions (HUD) and participation in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (USDA FNS).

Before joining NORC, Carol was a senior research associate at James Bell Associates. As part of JBA’s child welfare practice, she conducted studies on maltreatment prevention; tribal family preservation and support; foster care and permanency, including infant-toddler court teams; quality improvement centers; and state Court Improvement reforms. She supported development of youth outcome measures for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.

In the federal sector, Carol directed national-level studies on AmeriCorps and VISTA programs as an evaluation specialist for the Corporation for National and Community Service. While at Computer Sciences Corporation, she provided on-site analytic support for community development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Working with CSR, Incorporated, she was a field-based researcher for a longitudinal, quasi-experimental evaluation of the Transitional Living Program for runaway and homeless youth. Previously, Carol conducted ethnographic research on the children of immigrants, family support networks, and community-based art programs.



Columbia University


Columbia University


Teachers College, Columbia University


Hunter College, CUNY

Appointments & Affiliations


Society for Applied Anthropology

Vice Chair

U.S. Census Bureau National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations

Project Contributions

Minnesota Reading Corps Pre-K Program Evaluation

Demonstrating that AmeriCorps volunteer tutors can improve preschoolers’ literacy


Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Impact Evaluation

NORC finds tutoring by AmeriCorps volunteers brought benefits to most young students


Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Housing Needs of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians

Conducting a culturally sensitive study in tribal and indigenous areas to inform housing policy


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Head Start-to-Kindergarten Transitions Project

The first rigorous, system-level study of the factors that drive successful kindergarten transitions


Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families

Evaluation of Minnesota’s Home and Community-Based Services Assessment Process

Evaluation to understand disparities in Minnesota’s home and community-based services assessment process


Minnesota Department of Human Services

Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-System Evaluation

A first-of-its-kind evaluation to maximize the effectiveness of TTA provided to early childhood grantees


Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services