Dr. Preston Britner is a Professor of HDFS and currently serves as the Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. “Brit” has been on the faculty at UConn since 1997, and he has been active in service roles at department, college, university, state, and national professional organization levels throughout his time in Storrs.
Brit was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Virginia. He completed his BA in psychology at the University of Miami, where he also captained the varsity track team, and his MA and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Virginia, where he contributed to studies of child-parent attachment, child care, and child maltreatment prevention.
At UConn, Professor Britner has researched a number of topics (e.g., attachment-caregiving relationships; youth mentoring; prevention programs) with a focus on the application of child development and parent-child family relationship theory and research to applied settings (i.e., translational science), geared toward the promotion of healthy interactions and the prevention of negative behavioral outcomes. Much of his current research focuses on interventions for families with children in foster care. Brit is examining the effectiveness of college preparatory programs for high school youth in foster care, as well as looking at eventual college attainment for youth in care (and what factors influence those educational outcomes). Since 2001, he has been involved with the study and refinement of the Supportive Housing for Families (SHF) housing and child welfare intervention for families with children in, or at risk for, foster care. SHF is a successful example of a community-based, family-focused intervention that was developed and studied collaboratively with state and nonprofit provider partners.
In addition to publishing two books and dozens of articles and chapters (most with student co-authors), Dr. Britner routinely testifies at state and federal hearings and briefings in Hartford and DC. He has served on numerous editorial advisory boards and was the Editor of The Journal of Primary Prevention (2005-2010). A Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) since 2007, Brit served as Co-Chair of the Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, leading APA’s policy efforts related to children and families. In Connecticut, he was Co-Chair of the Families with Service Needs Advisory Board at the legislature, working to improve supportive services for “status offender” children and their families.
At UConn, Professor Britner has chaired the Faculty Review Board, the Faculty Standards and Student Welfare committees of the University Senate, the Planning and Evaluation Committee for university accreditation, and the Teaching and Learning advisory board. He was Co-Chair (2008-2012) of the Public Engagement Forum (and the lead author of UConn’s successful 2010 Carnegie Foundation “Community Engagement” classification application). He has been recognized as a University Teaching Fellow (2003) and with the AAUP Service Excellence Award (2011), the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair (2013-2016; the first UConn HDFS faculty member to hold an endowed chair), the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement (2015), and the Edward C. Marth Mentorship Award (outstanding mentoring of graduate students; 2019).
Brit resides in Hampton, CT, with his three children (a chemist, a college runner, and a high school soccer player) and two cats (Mabel and Thea).