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Areas of Focus

Translational research products and services are created through conversation, planning, mutual agreement, and DCFS approval. Since child welfare practice has many elements and components impacting children, youth, and families, our current projects center on four areas.

Education and Transition Services

Translational Research collaborates with the DCFS Office of Education and Transition Services, the DCFS Office of Information and Technology Services, the Illinois Longitudinal Data System, and other partners to improve data access and analytic capacity to understand the educational needs and outcomes of children and youth in care. From preschool to K-12 education through postsecondary education, Translational Research contributes to research-based and data-informed program planning and service delivery in presentations, reports, and planning documents focused on the education needs of children and youth in care.

Equity Practices and Policies

Translational Research collaborates with the DCFS divisions and offices including, the Office of Race Equity Practice to conduct research to strengthen race-equitable child welfare practice. Our team collaborates with practitioners to facilitate conversations in building race-equitable child welfare practice, and we collaborate with other researchers on projects. Examples include: a) a study on needed support to increase the use of subsidized guardianship to reduce racial disparities in permanency outcomes, and b) a study guiding the development of systemic practices that improve placement rates for Black children in same-race foster homes and improved support for Black children placed in White foster homes.

Translational Research and Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion collaborates on the use of data and research to inform the design and implementation of improved supports for youth in care that identify as LGBTQIA+. Note: LGBTQIA+ encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, pansexual, etc. For example, the Translational Research team conducted a statewide survey of youth in care aged 12 and older to engage them in sharing their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression and their recommendations for improved support. This information is being used to develop ongoing data collection process and support LGBTQIA+ friendly casework and supervision practices.

Prevention Services

Translational Research partnered with a wide range of stakeholders through the Office of Research and Child Well-being on the development of program plans, data analyses, research summaries, event planning, and CQI activities to support the implementation of evidence-based services with children and families at-risk of substitute care entry. For example, the team conducted a study on the relationship between community characteristics and substitute care entry, which illustrated the central importance of building cross-agency and community-based partnerships to address risk factors families experience in education, employment, housing, health services, and more.

Workforce Development

Translational Research partners with the Office of Workforce Development, Immersion Site directors, and other child welfare collaborators to develop research-based resources that support caseworkers and supervisors in implementing high-impact and evidence-based practices with children and families. Examples of work includes a literature review of workforce retention practices, survey research on the coaching needs of supervisors, and training curricula on serving families experiencing environmental neglect.


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