The Center on Child Welfare Policy and Practice (CCWPP) is a joint effort between the School of Social Work (SSW) and the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The CCWPP engages in inter-disciplinary efforts to inform child welfare policy and practice knowledge through enhanced collaboration and communication among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. Center research activities focus on the development and enhancement of child maltreatment prevention and intervention activities, and the generation of knowledge to promote family well-being in populations involved or at risk of involvement with the child welfare system. The CCWPP works cooperatively with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to identify research needs and priorities and translates research findings to state and county governments, the child welfare training system and other entities that provide professional education, and child and family service and advocacy agencies.
The CCWPP has three key objectives:
- Conduct and Disseminate Relevant Research – Despite decades of research on populations at-risk for child maltreatment, surprisingly little is known about “what works” in child maltreatment prevention. A key objective is to help build the body of evaluation research on prevention and to translate this knowledge to individuals and groups vested in reducing the incidence of child maltreatment.
- Provide and Support Training – There is a need to increase the number of researchers who have in-depth knowledge of the child welfare system and child maltreatment prevention programming. Such expertise greatly improves the design of rigorous evaluations of programs and interventions that address child maltreatment. However, the training of researchers has not kept pace with practice changes and innovations in the child maltreatment prevention arena or the child welfare system. The CCWPP involves a training component for doctoral students in social work and other disciplines designed to ensure that the next generation of child maltreatment researchers is well-positioned to conduct research that is highly relevant to various contexts of child maltreatment prevention programming. State-of-the-art research knowledge generated and collected is also disseminated to the child welfare training partnerships and other entities engaged in the professional development of child welfare practitioners across Wisconsin and to direct service providers and advocacy organizations.
- Enhance Technical Assistance Provision – Faculty and researchers from IRP and SSW have a long history of engaging in research and consultation activities with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (formerly the Department of Health and Family Services). The CCWPP ensures that this partnership is coordinated and that the Department’s needs – as well as the needs of any other interested party – are identified and addressed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In order to fulfill its mission and meet its objectives, the CCWPP engages in a wide range of activities, including but not limited to:
- multiple experimental evaluations of the extent to which income supports prevent child maltreatment in at-risk families;
- analyses of associations between parental substance abuse, state child welfare policies, and child welfare case outcomes;
- implementation evaluations of child protection reforms in Wisconsin; and,
- comprehensive literature reviews on topics such as the risk and protective factors for child neglect.
CCWPP affiliated researchers also assist the Department of Children and Families in the design and development of new program initiatives. Finally, they facilitate interactions between researchers and practitioners through activities such as:
- the “State Innovations in Policies Supporting Healthy Families” conference focused on home visiting programs;
- differential response programs; and,
- integrated family planning for children and family service delivery.