Volume 17 | May 2017 

A Letter from Our Director
Happy Spring! 

It's one of CFRC's busiest springs since I started here back in 1997. B.H. work is in full swing, and we are wrapping up our chapters on child safety and permanency. We are also finishing our evaluation of the Oregon Differential Response program. The final report for this evaluation is due in June, though  we look forward to collaborating with our Oregon partners on publications and presentations for years to come. Our Wisconsin Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation continues as well, along with all our other projects. 

Speaking of collaboration, a proposal of ours was recently accepted for presentation at the International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement hosted by the Kempe Center at the University of Colorado Denver. Together with our Oregon partners, we will present on predictors of staff attitudes toward differential response.

There's no more exciting time in an evaluator's life than seeing the myriad pieces of an evaluation project come together into a coherent final product. What are the themes running through all the evidence that we may only spot when we pause and take stock of the big picture? What kinds of recommendations can we offer when looking at the totality of evidence? These are the joys of evaluation work, and we're so proud that we get to do it every day. 

We hope you enjoy our May newsletter!
Tamara Fuller, Ph.D., Director, Children and Family Research Center

Project Updates and News

Like to Share? Check Out Our Website Updates

Our website recently became a lot more social! Now, under each news item, you will find links to share that item via Facebook and Twitter. Check it out today. Visit the CFRC Newsroom, find an item that looks interesting to you, and click to share! Are there other social networking sites on which you'd like to share? Instagram? Snapchat? OpenTable? Weibo? Ravelry? Email us and let us know, or use the hashtag #PlacesWhereIWantToShareCFRCWork. (Just kidding about that last one.)

Submit Presentations for the Third Annual CQI Conference

This year's annual conference on Continuous Quality Improvement will be held November 7 and 8, 2017, at the I Hotel in Champaign. Conference organizers have been busy planning the event, and the Request for Proposals went out last month. Do you have an interest in presenting at this year's conference? You can find more information on the conference website

2017 B.H. Report Work Underway

The monitoring report of the  B.H. consent decree is our annual report on the status of Illinois children taken into state care. It is CFRC's seminal publication, the result of the same decree that led to the founding of our center. Chapter authors are nearly finished with their drafts, and we are beginning work on the additional analyses that augment the regular yearly findings. Are there any issues or patterns that you would like to see us explore in greater depth?  Send us an email  with your thoughts!

Other Project Updates

Our evaluation projects  in Wisconsin and Oregon are keeping us busy. For our evaluation of Oregon's implementation of Differential Response (DR), we are now in the last stages of the evaluation. Our final report is due in June. We are finalizing our analysis of the results from the parent surveys and interviews, and working on the cost analysis. We are also updating our propensity score matching model to provide updated comparison groups for the assessments in DR counties.

For the Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation of Wisconsin's Post-Reunification Support (P.S.) Program, we continue to collect data from caseworkers in the 38 counties that have implemented the P.S. Program and are compiling the data to provide feedback on report completion, most frequently used services, and services that were needed but not received by families. We continue to receive surveys from parents that have had children return home from foster care. Additionally, CFRC researchers Ted Cross and Michael Braun attended a convening of waiver program evaluators in Seattle in April; more details about this are provided next. 
Inside CFRC

At the end of April, CFRC researchers Ted Cross and Michael Braun attended a meeting of Title IV-E Waiver evaluators put on by Casey Family Programs in Seattle, WA. The event was an opportunity for researchers and evaluators working on these projects to discuss successes, challenges, and what comes next when the waivers expire in 2019. In this Inside CFRC, we talk with Dr. Ted Cross about the event.

Q: How was the convening?

It was great. There was a good spirit at the meeting, and I felt like I learned a lot. We had great conversations with other evaluators and with various other stakeholders. It was a rare opportunity to sit down with other researchers and have conversations about the opportunities and challenges of doing evaluation work. By getting together, we got to break down some of the walls that separate different evaluation approaches and teams and share knowledge that everyone can use.

Q: What were some of the things you learned about?

A lot of the conversation centered around spreading the gospel of the waiver projects. Title IV-E Waivers expire in 2019, unless there is new legislation to reinstate them. That means it's important to promote the utilization of waiver research, communicate study results, and tell the full story of the waivers--both the good and the challenging--to help all stakeholders understand the work that the jurisdictions are doing to innovate in child welfare. That communication piece is a new one for many of us evaluators. We're often so focused on research methods and analysis, we may forget about the importance of communicating the findings in numerous ways to reach our diverse stakeholders. Not everyone is going to read the 200-page report we produce at the end of the evaluation.

Q: And you presented at a session as well?

That's right. Michael and I presented with evaluators from the University of Nebraska, Michelle Graef and Kate Stephenson. It was really more of a discussion about what we leave behind with states after we wrap up the waivers. This is one of the toughest questions, and it touches on all the major themes of the convening. How do we communicate findings? How do we construct tools that are useful to all people, not just evaluators? How do we offer guidance about where the waiver activities might go after the waivers end? Once again, these aren't necessarily things evaluators think about first and foremost, and it was great to stretch our brains a little and think about what comes next. We want to make a lasting, positive impact, so how best to achieve that? It's a question I enjoyed thinking about and discussing.

Q: What will come out of the convening? What's next?

In terms of meetings, the next gathering of waiver evaluators and their state partners will be at the end of June in Washington DC. We're looking forward to getting together with friends, colleagues, and partners old and new at this event. I'm also interested in discussing more about how the findings of our evaluations will shape the programs going forward. How can we encourage states to continue a program that shows promising results? How can we advise states when their programs don't show the results that we had expected? This was one of the big questions that was left unanswered at the end of this convening. The waivers may be ending, but the work of evaluation continues to be an exciting, challenging one. I know everyone at CFRC is excited to take what we learn and apply it to all of our work.

What We're Reading

There is so much great research published each month, we can hardly keep up! Here are the articles that we have read as part of our monthly Journal Club. 

As part of our Oregon evaluation, we've been thinking a lot about risk and safety assessment models in child welfare. One article from 2008 offers valuable summary information on this topic: Amy D'Andrade and colleagues' Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work article "Risk and Safety Assessment in Child Welfare: Instrument Comparisons." It raises challenging questions about what we can get from an assessment model and how models can be improved. 

Another article sure to be cited hundreds of times as a vital reference is "The What, When, and Why of Implementation Frameworks for Evidence-Based Practices in Child Welfare and Child Mental Health Service Systems" by Rochelle Hanson and colleagues, and published in Child Abuse & Neglect in 2016. The article summarizes several implementation frameworks, providing a useful reference for anyone interested in evidence-based practice and implementation strategies. 

One last work that has captured our attention relates to assessing educational outcomes, a new area CFRC is branching into. The guide, titled "PROGRAM-Based Review and Assessment: Tools and Techniques for Program Improvement , " comes from the University of Massachusetts and offers detailed steps for assessing student learning, from identifying educational goals through formative assessment, in which student learning is used to improve instruction. The guide is thorough and thought-provoking. Whether you work in education evaluation or another area, there's a lot of useful information in it.  

What have you been reading lately? Let us know via the contact information below.

Connect with Us

We want to hear from you! You can contact CFRC at or via phone at (217) 333-5837. Visit our website at . Follow the School of Social Work on Twitter @UofISocialWork or like the School on Facebook.

Thanks for reading! Look for our next newsletter in August.