Children and Families

Active grants

The Children and Families research area seeks to understand the needs of and services for vulnerable youth and the people and systems that serve them. Topics include access to higher education for foster care youth, workforce training, foster parent support, and the health needs of foster care youth.

MDHHS Baby Court Expansion

Principal Investigator: Bryan Victor

Grant Funder: Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

This project aims to increase the spread and coordination of Baby Courts across the state to ensure that children 0-3 and their families in the child welfare system or at-risk for entry into the child welfare system receive high-quality, coordinated, developmental- and trauma-informed services. Both infants and toddlers and Black/African American children are over-represented in Michigan's child welfare system. Approximately 21% of Michigan's children are under the age of 4 years, yet 34% of the maltreated children are in this same age range. Just over one-quarter of the substantiated cases of maltreatment involve Black/African American children, despite only 18% of Michigan's children being Black/African American, but 26% of Michigan's maltreated children are Black. In addition, infants/toddlers experience high rates of recurrence of maltreatment. Among young children with substantiated cases of maltreatment in 2015, 57% had at least one re-report of maltreatment by 2019 and 21% were re-reported 3 or more times within that same time period. This suggests an urgent need to integrate families of infants and toddlers in child welfare into a coordinated system of care to assure they have access to high-quality, evidence-driven, and equitable services. Population to be served children in this project are children, under the age of 3 years and their families, who are involved or "at risk" of involvement in child protective services and foster care. In addition, the project will work with the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant project to ensure services in communities to prevent involvement in child protective services. Building on experience the City of Detroit/County of Wayne, Michigan, the proposed project goals are: 1. Increase state- and county-level infrastructure to sustain and expand Baby Courts to sustain and expand Baby Courts and to sustain them through legislative advocacy. 2. Use data to understand and improve existing Baby Courts (a) fidelity to the Infant-Toddler Court Program, (b) outcomes related to time to permanency, reunification, and recurrence of maltreatment, and (c) disparities in these outcomes related to poverty, race/ethnicity, developmental delay/disability, and rurality. 3. Embed Baby Courts into statewide initiatives related to early childhood systems integration, child abuse prevention/intervention, and court improvement to increase the knowledge, policy, and practice in child and family-serving systems.

Battle Creek Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and Kids Reaching Excellence Service Teams (KREST) Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Dean Sheryl Kubiak

Grant Funder: Battle Creek Police Department

The City of Battle Creek Police Department (BCPD) applied for and received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The proposal was developed collaboratively between BCPD, Summit Pointe, and Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) focuses on two primary goals: 1) the expansion of law enforcement Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and 2) the enhancement of interventions for the highest-risk teen juveniles in the Battle Creek Public Schools utilizing the KREST (Kids Reaching Excellence Services Team) model. This proposal presents two hypotheses. First, that an increased number and saturation rates of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers will result in increased use of CIT forms and referral rates to community mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring treatment. Second, that increased numbers of juveniles engaged in case coordination will lower probation violation rates among program participants. Additionally, community partners will benefit from shared system knowledge and create sustainable efficiencies through collaborative programming.

Proposal to Conduct and Analyze 50 Qualitative Interviews

Principal Investigator: Neva Nahan

Grant Funder: United Way for Southeastern Michigan

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan has requested a proposal to conduct fifty qualitative interviews for their Community Information Exchange initiative. The Center for Social Work Research at the School of Social Work Wayne State University proposes to design the questionnaire and sampling strategy, conduct the interviews, analyze the responses for themes and produce a summary report.



Principal Investigaor: Kess Ballentine

SSW Collaborator: Bryan Victor

Grant Funder: Spaulding for Children

Dr. Ballentine will serve as the lead evaluator for KINDER-CARES as subcontracted by Spaulding for Children via a cooperative agreement between the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Children's Bureau and Spaulding for Children, grant # 90CW1148 (the grantee). As the lead evaluator, Dr. Ballentine is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the process and outcome evaluation of the KINDER-CARES intervention, ensuring timely data collection and analysis of all data, provide regular evaluation updates to key stakeholders (Spaulding for Children implementation team, federal program officers, federal TA providers, etc.), supervise research assistants and other WSU SSW staff supporting the evaluation, and lead the development and writing of final report along with presentations and publications linked to the dissemination plan.

Champions Aspiring to Make Pathways to Success (CHAMPS)

Principal Investigator: Judith Wineman

Grant Funder: State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)

Child Welfare Training Redesign Project 

Principal Investigator: Joanne Sobeck

SSW Collaborator: Lena Boraggina-Ballard

Grant Funder: State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)

Stage I Formative Stage: Goal - To collect information, data, and materials on child welfare training models and obtain feedback from stakeholders on critical areas of content and design considerations for the training. Tasks: Gather information and materials (e.g., literature review, review of current CWTI training), conduct a national scan of current curriculum and training used for new child welfare employees, review the recommendations made by the Michigan Child Welfare University Partnership workgroup for the redesign project, conduct focus groups/interviews with stakeholders Stage II Analysis and Consensus building.

Stage II: Goal To review, analyze and synthesize information and data from formative stage that will guide the development of the training curriculum. Tasks: Organize data to draw lessons for curriculum and instructional design, identify child welfare competencies required of new child welfare workers, identify timeframe for training to ensure best outcomes, determine best methods (e.g., web-based, in-person, virtual reality) for training competencies.

Stage III Curriculum Development Stage: Goal To create a child welfare training curriculum that includes learning objectives, content, learner activities and evaluation metrics to assess training outcomes. Tasks: Produce training modules for child welfare, develop curriculum objectives, content, & learning activities, identify evaluation metrics to assess knowledge and skills of trainees.

Creating Protective Environments through School Policy Development 

Principal Investigator: Poco Kernsmith

SSW Collaborator: Megan Hicks

Grant Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The goal of this supplement is to better meet the needs of youth with disabilities as well as the individuals and systems providing services within schools through the provision of technical assistance informed by the assessment of the needs and priorities of youth, staff, and teachers. This supplement will specifically support enhanced policy analysis, expanded data collection, and development of technical assistance opportunities. These activities are intended to improve the ability of schools to prevent and respond to violence perpetrated against and by students with disabilities through building protective environments, improving reporting and identification of youth who have been victimized, and expand intervention with both victims and perpetrators that is appropriate and responsive to the development and ability of youth.

Component B: Creating Supportive Environments through School Policy Development Continuation

Principal Investigator: Megan Hicks

Grant Funder: University of Texas at Arlington

The Wayne State University research team will collaborate with the University of Texas at Arlington investigator on the following activities over the remaining course of the project: 1. Participate in cross-site collaboration on daily tasks of the research project. Participate in the facilitation of team and small group meetings. 2. Conduct survey and focus group data collection with students and staff in participating schools. 3. Coordinate participant tracking, data analysis, database management, and data security. 4. Assist with the development and implementation of the intervention strategy, including development of technical assistance strategies and documentation for process evaluation. 5. Assist with the adaptation of measurement tools and data collection protocol. 6. Support the implementation of technical assistance. 7. Participate in training and supervision of student research staff, including student assistants, volunteers, and interns from WSU, UTA, MSU, and MOASH. 8. Support dissemination of the preliminary results through the academic and community presentations, publications, and research reports to the funder and the school partners. 9. Serve as IRB of record for the project and ensure submission of future amendments. 10. Provide budget oversight, supervise communication efforts, and general program coordination for the WSU site.

Strengthening Indiana Families: Racial Disparity, Racial Equity and Inclusion in Child Welfare and Family Systems 

Principal Investigator: Bryan Victor

Grant Funder: Indiana University 

Dr. Victor will serve as the lead evaluator on the Strengthening Indiana Families grant held by the Indiana University Board of Trustees (principal investigator: Dr. E. Susana Mariscal). He will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Strengthening Indiana Families evaluation, and participate in weekly leadership team meetings, monthly calls with federal grant partners, monthly calls with federal technical assistance partners related to evaluation, monthly steering committee meetings, and monthly calls with implementation partners. Dr. Victor will oversee the following tasks: preparation and submission of IRB applications and amendments, development of data collection instruments, quality assurance related to data collection, data analysis, preparation of analytic summaries and reports for project staff and federal partners, semi-annual reporting to federal partners, and dissemination of findings through conference presentations, scholarly publications and policy briefs. Dr. Victor will report directly to the principal investigator and project director, Dr. E. Susana Mariscal. 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and Policy Implementation in Michigan: Building State Capacity for Program Assessment to Promote Family Self-Sufficiency

Principal Investigator: Kristina Nikolova

Grant Funder: U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF)           

Welfare reform has resulted in reductions in welfare rolls across the country; however, complementary reductions in poverty rates or improvements in family self-sufficiency have not been consistently observed. Families can face many barriers to employment, including intimate partner violence, lack of reliable childcare or transportation, housing instability, and physical or mental health issues that prevent them from being self-sufficient. These barriers are not addressed by current benchmarks of TANF success, work participation rates, and welfare caseload reductions. These measures also do not reflect the reality of job instability, low wages, and seasonal work availability. Research Goals: Given the disconnect between current benchmarks of TANF success and the reality of economic self-sufficiency, the proposed project aims to help one state, Michigan, move beyond work participation as a measure of TANF success and instead shift the focus to outcomes related to reducing the negative impacts of families' barriers to self-sufficiency. The first phase in achieving this goal is determining why Michigan has the highest rate of rejection of welfare applications and how the process can be improved to better address the barriers faced by families. The second phase involves developing a statewide database and analytical procedure to allow for ongoing evaluation of self-sufficiency outcomes. A mixed-method approach will be used to qualitatively examine the exemption process for TANF work requirements and time limits in Michigan and quantitatively examine the unmet need for cash assistance in the state.

Behavioral Health Services for Young Children and Mothers

Principal Investigator: Carolyn Dayton

Grant Funder: Michigan Health Endowment Fund

The Social Work Family Clinic - Detroit's first co-located perinatal and early childhood clinic that will provide regular pediatric care and on-site behavioral health services for young children (birth to five years) and families. In addition to Wayne Pediatrics, collaborators include the Detroit Sister Friend program and the Infant Mental Health Program at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development

Behavioral Health Services for Young Children and Mothers

Principal Investigator: Carolyn Dayton

Grant Funder: Ethel & James Flinn Family Foundation

The Social Work Family Clinic - Detroit's first co-located perinatal and early childhood clinic that will provide regular pediatric care and on-site behavioral health services for young children (birth to five years) and families. In addition to Wayne Pediatrics, collaborators include the Detroit Sister Friend program and the Infant Mental Health Program at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development

Social Work Family Clinic

Principal Investigator: Carolyn Dayton

Grant Funder: Total Healthcare Foundation

The project will establish Detroit's first co-located perinatal and early childhood behavioral health clinic to provide on-site intervention services at Wayne Pediatrics. The new Social Work Family Clinic, operated by WSU's School of Social Work, will extend existing (though limited) behavioral health services currently provided to school-aged children at pediatrics by offering comprehensive behavioral health services to very young children (0-5 years) and their families. Services will be provided to parents impacted by mood and anxiety disorders and trauma symptoms, and young children will be treated for early signs of mental illness that often emerge as a result of exposure to parental mental illness and environmental stressors such as poverty and violence. Through early identification and treatment provided to both parent and child, we can interrupt the transmission of maternal stress and environmental risk to negative child outcomes and thereby increase the ability of children and families to achieve their full potential.