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Past Projects

These projects are projects that have been completed within the past five years. For older projects, please go to Resources/Archived Reports.

Best Practices in Risk Assessment for Child Protective Services

Principal Investigators: Becci Akin, PhD; Thomas McDonald, PhD

This project was funded by the Kansas Department for Social and Rehabilitation Services, Division of Children and Families the time period was July 1, 2009 thru December 30, 2010. This study critically reviewed the empirical literature to identify key issues and recommendations for risk assessment in child protective services. The current Kansas risk assessment instrument was examined in relation to lessons learned from the literature review. The study also provided key considerations and recommendations for improving risk assessment instrumentation and implementation.

Caring For Kids

Principal Investigators: Dr. Jody Brook; Dr. Tom McDonald

From 2010 to 2012, Drs. Jody Brook and Tom McDonald serve as principal investigators for the evaluation of the effectiveness of this psycho-educational program oriented towards children who have a family member struggling with substance abuse. This project is operated through First Call, in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Child Welfare Resource Network (1998-2010)

Principal Investigators: Michelle Levy, AM; Alice Lieberman, PhD; Bethany Roberts, JD; Debora Ortega, PhD

The Child Welfare Resource Network (CWRN) promoted best practice in child welfare through curriculum development, training and consultation with child-welfare staff, supervisors, and managers. Trainings of note included: Skills of Family Centered Practice, Effective Child Welfare Practice with Latino Families, Fathers Place and Introduction to Child Welfare & Child In Need of Care Courts in Kansas. Work was funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau; Kansas Office of Judicial Administration and Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Children Affected by Methamphetamine

Principal Investigator: Jody Brook, PhD

Research Staff: Yeuqi Yan, GRA; Margaret Lloyd, GRA

Children Affected by Methamphetamine (CAM) was a federally-funded project in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, implemented to improve the services offered to children at the Tulsa County Family Drug Court.  This project implemented a novel and promising strategy: offering two evidence-based parenting programs to parents sequentially. The evaluation utilized some of the most rigorous methods in child welfare research, as well as an innovative mixed methods approach to evaluation that included outcomes, cost analysis, and formative evaluation. Amount funded: $1,480,000 over 4 years (subcontract amount approximately $183,500 over 4 years). The project began in 2010 and continued through 2014.

Clinician Use of Theory and Technique when Working with Women Affected by Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

Principal Investigator: Jody Brook

In 2006, dissertation research conducted by Jody Brook, which examined how substance abuse counselors, child welfare workers, human services supervisors, and recovery support personnel adjust therapeutic approach to become gender centered in counseling substance affected women.

Developmental Needs and Service Receipt Among Latino Children of Immigrants in the U.S. Child Welfare System

Principal Investigator: Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, PhD

Research Staff: Mindi Moses, GRA

The provision of services to meet children’s developmental needs can improve outcomes for children at risk for delays, and potentially limit the impact of child maltreatment when it occurs. However, little is known about the developmental needs or services provided to children of Latino immigrants in the U.S. child welfare system. Moreover, little is known about the impact of federal policy changes that sought to increase access to early intervention services among young maltreated children. This study built knowledge in these areas using data from the first and second National Surveys of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW). Findings will inform the development and dissemination of social work education and training curricula for the fields of child welfare and early child education. This project was funded by the Lois and Samuel Silberman Faculty Grant Program ($40,000) and the University of Kansas New Faculty General Research Fund ($8,000).

Webinar: Promoting Positive Child Development in Latino Children of Immigrants Involved with Child Protective Services

Additional Resources:

Resource Guide for Parents, Caregivers, Practitioners, Physicians, Interventionists, & Individuals Working with Young Latino Children in Immigrant Families (pdf)

Promoting Positive Child Development in Latino Children of Immigrants with Child Protective Services: Compendium of Promising Practices (pdf)

Evaluation of CASA-Columbia Safe Haven Model

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook; Dr. Tom McDonald

From 2005 through 2010, Dr. Jody Brook (as part of national research fellowship award from the Administration for Children and Families) and Tom McDonald served as evaluators for this 3 site implementation of an early model, therapeutically driven family drug court, developed by the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Immediate Access

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook; Dr. Tom McDonald

From 2010 to 2011, Drs. Jody Brook and Tom McDonald served as evaluators for this OK based initiative, which tracks the referral of substance affected families through the assessment, treatment and child welfare process in Oklahoma County, OK to assess substance abuse treatment and child welfare outcomes.

Kansas Child Welfare Scholars Program (1991-1996; 1999-2006)

Principal Investigator: Alice Lieberman, PhD

Project Manager: Michelle Levy, AM

The Kansas Child Welfare Scholars Program was a Title IV-E funded collaborative partnership between the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS – now DCF) and a consortium of the eight undergraduate social work programs in Kansas led by KUSSW to increase the number of professionally educated public child welfare staff in Kansas. Of the course of the program, 260 students completed a social work education and were employed by SRS to work with children and families throughout the state. In addition, the program supported the development of specialized curricula on various topics related to child welfare practice. In 2005, the Kansas Child Welfare Scholars Program was honored to receive the first Academic Excellence Award from the American Public Human Services Association for outstanding contributions in the field of human services.

Kansas City Youth Mercantile Alliance Study

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook

From 2010 to 2012, Dr. Jody Brook served as principal investigator for this project which was administered through First Call, in the Kansas City metropolitan area.This study centered on discovery of ways in which community stakeholders can most effectively address youth tobacco prevention.

Kansas Health in Pregnancy (HIP) Project/Pregnant Women Using Substances

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook

The Kansas HIP project (2006-2009) took place in four counties across KS: Ellis, Barton, Douglas, and Sedgwick. HIP provided relationally oriented recovery services (through existing community resources) to women who were struggling with alcohol and other drug abuse while pregnant. The goal of the project was to assist mothers in getting and staying alcohol and other drug free while pregnant. In 2009, HIP services were launched statewide, and are offered through the regionally based child welfare service providers.

Kansas Partnership for Educating Kids in Care

Principal Investigator: Alice Lieberman, PhD & Teri Gartska, PhD

Staff: Cheryl Holmes & Michelle Levy

The Kansas Partnership for Educating Kids in Care (KPEKC) is a state-level, multi-agency initiative established with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. KPEKC was created to increase educational stability for children and youth in foster care by building a sustainable collaboration between child welfare and education systems. To learn more, visit KPEKC website.

Kansas Serves Substance Affected Families

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook; Dr. Tom McDonald

From 2007 to 2012, Drs. Jody Brook and Tom McDonald served as key partners for this federally funded initiative in Kansas between the State’s DCF, the KU School of Social Welfare, the State’s Addiction and Prevention Services, and the regional child welfare service providers. This initiative provided 2 targeted services in the area of substance abuse and child welfare: (1) Implementing and evaluating the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) statewide for substance abuse affected families with children in foster care. Rigorously conducted evaluation results showed that SFP participation resulted in an average of 190 fewer days in foster care placement for participant children. Statistically significant changes in child, parent, and family functioning were also documented—including reduced substance use by parents. At an average out-of-home care rate of $86 per child per day in Kansas, SFP saved approximately $16,340 per participating child in out-of-home care costs. From a cost–benefit perspective, every $1 invested in SFP yielded an average savings of $9.83. As a result of this implementation, SFP services are now required of child welfare contractors in Kansas. (2) Development and maintenance of the Independent Living Website: This website was developed to target older youth in foster care who are transitioning into adulthood. Website content focuses on substance abuse prevention and life skills enhancement. The website contained information, stories and resources targeted for these high risk youth.

Kansas Workforce Initiative

Principal Investigators: Michelle Levy, AM; Alice Lieberman, PhD

Research Staff: John Poertner, PhD (Evaluation Consultant); Roxanne Emmert-Davis, LMSW (Project Consultant); Justin Thaw, LMSW (Scholars Coordinator); Kathleen Holt, MS (Trainer/Facilitator)

The purpose of Kansas Workforce Initiative (KWI) is to create a stable, prepared, and supported workforce to improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families in Kansas. Recruitment and retention activities will focus on strengthening the workforce of private and tribal child welfare agencies while "value added" educational traineeships will increase the child welfare focus at university social work programs statewide. The KWI is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. The project began September 2008 and will end March 2014. For more information on the project, visit the Kansas Workforce Initiative website.

Mapping the Black Box of Family Drug Courts

Principal Investigators: Toni Johnson, PhD; Jody Brook, PhD

Research Staff: Margaret Lloyd, GRA: Molly Jones-Peterman, GRA

This participatory study utilized concept mapping to address a significant gap in the family drug court literature by investigating the importance of various components to the drug court model from the perspective of family drug court (FDC) participants. The study also sought to understand the extent to which important elements are available to participating family drug courts so that relevant recommendations may be provided. Data was collected at the FDC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the FDC in Kansas City, Missouri, two sites that have demonstrated measurable success. The study was funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Oklahoma Partnership Initiative Phase I

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Brook; Dr. Tom McDonald

From 2007-2012, Drs. Jody Brook, Tom McDonald, Becci Akin, and Johnny Kim (all KUSSW researchers/faculty members) serve as co-principal investigators for this federally funded initiative in Oklahoma. This partnership is facilitated through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and comprises research related to 3 interventions:

Implementation of universal screening in the child welfare service system for parental substance abuse. Through this project, Oklahoma has been able to implement universal screening statewide for substance use disorders, and is 1 of only 2 states nationwide to successfully implement this important practice. Brook and McDonald proposed the use of the screen, assisted with implementation, and are evaluating the impact of the use of the screen on service delivery. The use of solution focused brief therapy (an evidence based intervention) for child welfare involved parents in primary substance abuse treatment. The Strengthening Families Program is currently being implemented at addictions treatment sites in Oklahoma for child welfare involved families (see above for description).

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