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FSU Institute Funds Research to Benefit Children

This article was posted July 21, 2015 on tallahassee.com.

Aimed at benefiting children in Florida’s child welfare system, the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University has funded 10 research projects statewide that promote evidence-based practice.

“The Florida Institute for Child Welfare is in a unique position to connect Florida’s child welfare community with social work researchers across the state,” said Patricia Babcock, interim director of the institute. “This year the Legislature recognized the importance of evidence-based practice and put legislation in place that mandates that Florida’s child welfare system transition into a system that uses programs and services that are supported by research. These grant awards are a first step for making the transition.”

The institute, which was established by the Legislature in July 2014, funded each project with $60,000 for a total of $600,000. Five of the institute’s projects involve faculty members in Florida State University’s College of Social Work.

  • Shamra Boel-Studt, an assistant professor, will lead “A Randomized Evaluation Examining the Effects of an Incentive-Based Child Welfare Invention on Strengthening Child and Family Engagement in Services.” The project will evaluate an incentive program’s effectiveness at increasing child/family engagement in services and strengthening child/family outcomes; examine caseworker and client-level factors that influence engagement; work with agency partners to develop a plan to strengthen and sustain effective engagement practices in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties; and develop recommendations to strengthen and support efforts to increase and sustain family engagement in child welfare services throughout Florida.
  • Katrina Boone, director of the college’s field education and an associate teaching professor, in partnership with Kenneth Bender, executive director of Boys Town North Florida, will lead “Common Sense Parenting Program for Children 0-5 in the Child Welfare System.” It will address maltreatment of children from birth to age 5 using an evidence-based program. Through the course of the project, Boys Town North Florida will provide Boys Town “Common Sense Parenting for Toddlers and Preschoolers” modeled after the evidence-based Common Sense Parenting program. Boys Town North Florida intends to mitigate the risk of child abuse and neglect among participating families while further researching the efficacy of Common Sense Parenting for Toddlers and Preschoolers.
  • Jeffrey R. Lacasse, an assistant professor, will lead an “Evaluation of the CriticalThinkRX Educational Curriculum for Child Welfare Workers: A Replication Study.” The project will examine the use of evidence-based educational curriculum on psychiatric mediations for non-medical helping professionals. The CriticalThinkRX program is an established curriculum previously tested in South Florida. This new study seeks to replicate previous findings in a different, broader sample and add additional outcomes.
  • Karen Randolph, the college’s Agnes Flaherty Stoops Professor in Child Welfare, and Mary Kay Falconer of the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida will lead an “Evaluation of Parent Training Services in a Community-Based System of Care.” The project’s selected priority is the evidence-based services for children from birth to age 5, primarily parent education and training. The project will evaluate two parent-training programs, Circle of Security (COS-P) and Early Childhood Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), currently offered to families receiving case management services within the system of care managed by Big Bend Community Based-Care (BBCBC).
  • Lisa Schelbe, an assistant professor, will lead an “Evidence-Based Parenting Intervention for Youth Aging Out of the Child Welfare Program.” It seeks to demonstrate the need for an intervention for parenting youth who are aging out of the child welfare system and to adapt and pilot test its effectiveness in Leon County. The project partners with the Children’s Home Society of Florida and involves an interdisciplinary team of scholars from across Florida State University, including College of Social Work Associate Professor Melissa Radey.

To learn more about the Institute for Child Welfare and the other 2014-2015 grant recipients, contact Babcock.

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