Portland-State-University 2016-2017 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 brings 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 protects children, engages families, and builds community capacity to address emerging needs.  

The Center was founded in 1994 as the Child Welfare Partnership, a statewide collaboration between Portland State University and the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), to offer training, research and professional education to Oregon's child welfare system.  The Child Welfare Partnership (CWP) trains all entering child welfare workers, their supervisors, caregivers, and community partners.  The CWP provides independently funded training to advance child protection and family connection initiatives.  The Child Welfare Partnerhip's Education Program (CWEP) provides financial support and customized professional education for bacherlor and master's level social work students committed to careers in child welfare.  This program includes the Culturally Responsive Leaders program, designed to prepare child welfare leaders to serve the growing diversity of child welfare clients.  Child Welfare Waiver Research studies the impact of an evolving range of family engagement practices in child welfare.

The partnership with DHS has expanded to include services for the DHS Self Sufficiency Program, supporting Oregon citizens facing the challenges of poverty through training and program development consultation.  The Self Sufficiency training team also brings social work skills and knowledge to programs serving low income families (such as Head Start).  

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 Oregon's Coordinated Care Organizations.  The team also works in Washington State, and other states and tribes as requested, to promote system of care principles and practices. 

The Center’s Early Childhood and Family Support Research Team works on a robust research agenda related to child welfare, early childhood, child abuse prevention, and family support. 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 leadership development, hosting the national Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) a component of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, 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 diverse 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


E. Roberto Orellana, Interim 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 (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 such fields as 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 the National Wraparound Initiative and the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence. Since 2000, the national program office of Reclaiming Futures: Building Community Solutions to Substance Abuse and Delinquency has been located in the RRI. Reclaiming Futures 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 www.rri.pdx.edu.