Research Center

Children & Family Research Center

The Children and Family Research Center is an independent research organization created jointly in 1996 at the School of Social Work by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The goal of the Center is to identify research needs and support research that is policy and practice relevant and encourage and facilitate public child welfare research activities through collaborative relationships.

The original mission of the CFRC was to maintain a research program responsive to the Department’s mission and responsibilities under statutes and court orders, and contributes to scientific knowledge about child safety, permanency, and child and family well-being. In particular, the Illinois child welfare system was operating under several federal consent decrees, including the B.H. Consent Decree, that mandated improvement in the care provided to children removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. The B.H. parties agreed to establish a Children and Family Research Center “responsible for evaluating and issuing public reports on the performance of the child welfare system operated by DCFS and its agents.” These B.H. outcome monitoring reports remain a core component of the Children and Family Research Center’s mission to improving outcomes for children involved with the child welfare system.

An equally important part of the Center’s mission is to conduct research that contributes to child welfare policy and practice and advances both scientific understanding and public discourse on child maltreatment.

Research activities span the entire continuum of scientific inquiry, including:

  • Gathering information on emerging areas of interest or concern and synthesizing the information into comprehensive literature reviews
  • Using administrative data to track system performance on a wide variety of measurable indicators
  • Conducting large-scale evaluations of service interventions and system reforms
  • Conducting small-scale studies of topics that are practice- and policy-relevant
  • Providing consultation and technical assistance on survey development, evaluation design, and practice implementation
  • Fostering conversation and collaboration among child welfare stakeholders by convening conferences, meetings, and summits that focus on specific topics of significant policy and practice relevance
  • Disseminating knowledge to a wide variety of audiences — both practice and research — through a range of communication strategies in ways that are useful and informative

The CFRC’s research efforts are designed to:

  • Generate knowledge to promote family well-being among vulnerable families, especially those involved with public child welfare systems
  • Aid in the development and evaluation of child maltreatment prevention and interventions activities
  • Be collaborative and cross-disciplinary in nature, encouraging interaction among researchers from different areas of expertise
  • Foster interest and expertise among young scholars – the next generation of child welfare researchers

The Children and Family Research Center is constantly striving to make research as accessible and useful as possible to a wide variety of consumers. We encourage you to find out more about the researchers, current research projects and initiatives, browse through the extensive listing of publications, and explore the interactive data center by visiting the Center’s website.