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Translational Research in Child Welfare

In 2018, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) began working with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work (UIUC SSW) to develop translational research services in support of Illinois’ child welfare system.

The goals of these services are to:

  • Offer research and data analytic support to DCFS programs and initiatives using new or existing data, research from other states, literature reviews, etc.
  • Conduct research projects in support of new program development or existing program improvement.
  • Support the development of program evaluation resources, such as performance metrics and logic models, in support of federal and state legislation such as Family First, workforce development, specific DCFS programs, and program evaluations.
  • Support DCFS leaders to use evidence, research, and data analyses in planning for effective service delivery in support of children, youth, and families involved with or at risk of involvement in Illinois child welfare.
  • Support researchers to connect with relevant DCFS and community-based or private agency partners to translate their findings into actionable strategies for the field.

The work of the Translational Research team is conducted with support from the DCFS Office of Research and Child Well-being. We utilize collaborative Continuous Quality Improvement  processes that engage program staff, implementation support staff, and evaluators in sharing quantitative data and lessons learned from the field; and generating ideas about how to address critical implementation challenges (e.g., referral and linkage to services, knowledge transfer, staff turnover), improve data collection/tracking, inform data analyses, improve service quality and outcomes. In addition to Translational Research, the DCFS Office of Research and Child Well-being includes collaborative leadership of several initiatives, including: Illinois’ implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, Early Childhood Court Teams, Early Childhood Project, and Immersion Sites.

The Office of Translational Research supports state-agency goals of data-informed decision-making, promotion of evidence-based practice, and data-informed support for the implementation of Illinois’ Core Practice Model, including achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion goals in the Illinois child welfare system.

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