On Monday, October 5 the American Youth Policy Forum sponsored a briefing that focused on how state and local child welfare programs address the challenge of converting research to inform policy and practice decisions in the child welfare field. The research was funded by the W. T. Grant Foundation in an effort to improve the use of research and evidence in child welfare. The forum highlighted implementation of evidence-based child welfare programs including New York City and the Los Angeles-based Children’s Bureau’s use of research in their Magnolia Community Initiative effort, with its focus on creating community wellness that is scalable.

The panel presentation included comments from Dr. Larry a Palinkas, University of Southern California School of Social Work, Allison Metz Senior Scientist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Alex Morales, President and CEO of the nonprofit Children’s Bureau of Los Angeles.  The remarks and the research discussed strategies to bring together research, evidence-based practices and how to implement those practices.

Lawrence Palinkas focused on ten points or observations. A point highlighted by several panel comments was the emphasis of partnerships with Professor Palinkas discussing some of the cultural barriers that may effect these partnerships. Allison Metz focused on work within the New York City child welfare system. She indicated that there were 11 evidence-based models serving 3000 families at any point in time in that City. She also discussed the importance of partnerships in developing and implementing such services. These partnerships included collaborations between the stakeholders including researchers, model designers, the city and the agencies.

Alex Morales of the Children’s Bureau of Southern California focused on their prevention initiative in a part of the Los Angeles area, the Magnolia Community Initiative. The project targets a 500 block area in Los Angeles made up of the 70 county, city and community organizations with goals to improve outcomes for children in the southwest of downtown Los Angeles area. The infrastructure is built around family resource centers, a new parent program which teaches child rearing skills, school readiness programs that target the 0 to 5 population, services for high-risk families including intensive at home or center-based services and home visiting health programs. In addition, the components include family foster care and adoption services with the goal of providing nurturing homes for children in need and permanent homes for those eligible for adoption and along with this our mental health services.

The power point presentation can be found here.