About the Center

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About the Child Protection Research Center

Setting the Center’s Agenda

When the Center was established in 2007, it was clear that a process of connecting to existing domestic and international researchers would be valuable both to build awareness of the Center’s mission  and to form the critical ties that would advance the opportunities for funding and for using and disseminating research.

In addition, there was a need to ascertain from key researchers and those in the child protection community what the perceived priorities are for research, and what research has proven to be most useful. This undertaking -- called the discernment process --involved interviewing 130 participants from 21 sites. Researchers in universities, governmental agencies, and users of research in several state child welfare systems provided crucial insights to set the overall topical agenda for the Center.

Download the complete discernment report.

Special meetings of researchers were also held on key topical areas to summarize what is known and explore future directions for research and dissemination. 

These meetings focused on:

  • Decision Making in Child Protection
  • Evidence-Based Practices
  • Chronic Neglect

The Center’s Priorities

Based on these initial efforts, we determined that certain key areas of work should inform the Center’s agenda, including:

  • A focus on decision-making itself, which is vital to achieving meaningful, positive results. Decisions made by child protection workers are often irreversible and potentially life-changing, requiring careful approaches.
  • The issue of racially-based disparities in the services that children and families involved in the child protection system receive, along with ways to disseminate improved intervention and treatment for families of color.
  • An international focus to take advantage of knowledge on a global scale by working to understand and aid in the development and distribution of systematic child welfare data on child maltreatment in a variety of populations and an understanding of prevention and intervention methods that support effectiveness.
  • A focus on the criteria for evidence-based practice and the accumulation of research findings that support scaling up of key practices.

The Center’s current agenda is focused on three strategic research initiative areas:

  1. Child Welfare Decision Making
  2. Evidence-Based Services Scale-Up
  3. International Child Maltreatment Data

In each of these areas, specific project work is in progress. There are also funding opportunities to exercise leadership in designing the direction for future work, collaboration with others to build on the development of knowledge and for communication of research findings to advance the field of child protection.

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Decision-Making Ecology

Watch the video

Read the monograph (PDF)