Portland-State-University 2018-2019 Bulletin

Research Centers and Institutes

Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services (Child Welfare Partnership)

1600 SW 4th Ave., 4th floor
Katharine Cahn, Executive Director

The Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services provides research, education and training to promote effective and equitable services to children and families.  Working with agency and community partners, the Center's goal is a child and family service system that promotes the well-being of children, engages families, and builds community capacity to address emerging needs.  

The Center was founded in 1994 as the Child Welfare Partnership (CWP), a statewide collaboration between Portland State University and the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), to offer training, research and social work education to improve Oregon's child welfare system.  The CWP training program provides training for all new child welfare workers, supervisors, caregivers, and community partners.  All training provided by the CWP is evaluated for quality assurance and measurement of impact.  The Child Welfare Partnerhip's Education Program (CWEP) provides financial support and customized professional education for bachelor and master's level social work students committed to careers in child welfare and includes an evaluation of program impact.  This program includes the Culturally Responsive Leaders program, designed to prepare child welfare leaders to serve the growing diversity of child welfare clients.  The Child Welfare Partnerhip's Waiver Research team studies the impact of an evolving range of family engagement practices in child welfare, and conducts independently funded research and evaluation to support child welfare reform in partnership with Oregon Child Welfare.

The partnership with DHS now includes training for the DHS Self Sufficiency Program, supporting Oregon citizens facing the challenges of poverty through training and program development consultation.  The DHS partnership also supports training for children and youth involved in multiple systems, through the System of Care Institute.

The Center’s System of Care Institute (SOCI) offers training, technical assistance and consultation using a community based, culturally responsive and family and youth-driven care lens.  Currently SOCI is supporting the full implementation of Wraparound and System of Care across the state of Oregon and focusing on cross-system collaboration.  The System of Care Institute also works in other states and tribes as requested, to promote System of Care, improvement of child-serving systems, and sustainable workforce development. 

The Center’s Early Childhood and Family Support Research Team works on a robust research agenda related to early childhood, child abuse prevention, family support and child welfare. This team provides program evaluation and community capacity building research across Oregon and nationally to promote family engagement, and early childhood support.  A full menu of research projects is available on the website.  

The Center promotes workforce development and innovation nationally through a collaboration with the  National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI), of the U.S. Children’s Bureau.  This national collaborative works across public, private, and tribal child welfare agencies to develop the skills to lead change, recruit and retain a diverse child welfare workforce, and build inclusive, collaborative, data-driven, and intentional organizational cultures. 

For further information about all programs and projects, visit the Center website at  http://www.pdx.edu/ccf/


Regional Research Institute for Human Services

1600 SW 4th Ave., Suite 900


Mary Oschwald, Director

The Regional Research Institute for Human Services (RRI) was established in 1972 by the School of Social Work at Portland State University with a grant from the Social and Rehabilitation Service within the office of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). The aim of the RRI is to improve the manner in which social services and service delivery systems are designed, managed, and evaluated. To inform social change initiatives, the RRI is prepared to examine all aspects of the complex process by which human service policies and services are developed and implemented. By bringing a range of consumers, family members, and researchers into its activities, the RRI creates new approaches to old problems. It strives to set high standards for applied social research and to provide a research environment for graduate training.

The RRI has undertaken more than 250 projects, many of them national in scope, in fields of child and adult mental health, family and child welfare, child care, employment, juvenile justice, alcohol and drug services, disability, and interpersonal violence. RRI projects range from large, multi-site federally funded grants, to research contracts with state and local governments, to program evaluations in collaboration with local community partners. The RRI is particularly well known for its innovative approaches in consumer-driven and community-engaged research. Over the last five years, total research expenditures for RRI projects have exceeded $32 million.

The RRI is home to several centers with national scope and influence. Since 1984, when the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health was initiated, the RRI has been a leader in the field of mental health research and education. The current Pathways to Positive Futures Research and Training Center continues the tradition with a focus on transition-aged youth. The RRI also hosts Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO), which serves as a centralized source of information and resources, and coordinates and provides training for healthcare and related systems.  Since 2000, the national program office of Reclaiming Futures: Public Health, Justice, Equity, has been located in the RRI and promotes new standards of care in juvenile justice for young people with drug and alcohol problems, and its model for system change has been implemented in jurisdictions around the country.

For more information about RRI faculty, research projects, and publications, see https://www.pdx.edu/regional-research-institute/