Examining Strategies to Improve the Use of Research Evidence in Child Welfare

Examining Strategies to Improve the Use of Research Evidence in Child Welfare
Examining Strategies to Improve the Use of Research Evidence in Child Welfare


Recent initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels have charged child welfare agencies with the challenge of better integrating research-based programs and practices into their daily routines. This forum explored how state and local leaders grapple with this challenge and shares recent research, funded by the W. T. Grant Foundation, on how research evidence is used to inform policy and practice decisions in the child welfare field.  The forum highlighted the implementation of evidence-based statewide foster care programs in California and Ohio, and the use of evidence-based child welfare programs in New York City. It also described the Los Angeles-based Children’s Bureau’s use of research in their Magnolia Community Initiative effort, with its focus on creating community wellness that is scalable.  Presenters explored how research evidence is used at all levels of the child welfare system as well as its implications for policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels.  They examined the kind of capacity it takes to ensure more substantive use of research evidence by child welfare agencies, and discussed what such evidence means for services and for the young people being helped. They also spurred thinking about how we can improve and increase research with practice partnerships, social networking, and intermediaries to more effectively share lessons learned and best practices.

Presenter Biographies

Metz formattedAllison Metz, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist, Director of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), and Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Allison specializes in the implementation, mainstreaming, and scaling of evidence to achieve social impact for children and families in a range of human service and education areas, with an emphasis on child welfare and early childhood service contexts. Allison’s work focuses in several key areas including: the development of evidence-informed practice models; the use of effective implementation and scaling strategies to improve the application of evidence in service delivery systems; and the development of coaching, continuous quality improvement, and sustainability strategies. Allison serves on several national advisory boards and is an invited speaker and trainer internationally. She is a co-chair of the Global Implementation Conference, a part of the Global Implementation Initiative. Allison is the author of many peer reviewed articles, briefs and white papers. She is co-editor of the widely read volume Applying Implementation Science in Early Childhood Program and Systems.

Alex Morales formattedAlex Morales is President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Bureau of Southern California, a non-profit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse, mental health, family support, child development, and community building that has served Southern California since 1904. Under Alex’s leadership, Children’s Bureau formed an ambitious visionary plan to create a national model and raised $22+ million to launch it. These resources have been used to build the Magnolia Place Family Center and be the “founding spark” of the Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI) in Los Angeles. MCI is championed by a large community network of 75+ diverse organizations and the Belong Campaign, a social movement led by residents and parents. This revolutionary initiative will become a national model/framework for building community wellness, resiliency, prevention and family support. MCI seeks to help ALL of the 35,000 children and youth within 500 blocks, a dozen neighborhoods, achieve success in education, health and receive nurturing care and economic stability form their families and community.

Palinkas 2012 photo formattedLawrence Palinkas is the Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health and Chair of the Department of Child, Youth and Families at the University of Southern California. He also holds secondary appointments as Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Preventive Medicine at USC. Dr. Palinkas received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1974 and an MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego in 1975 and 1981, respectively. Prior to coming to USC, he was Professor and Vice Chair of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He has also been a visiting professor at the Peking Union Medical College in China, the University of Oulu in Finland, and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

Click here to view the presentation slides

Click here to read the forum brief


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.