Child and Family Behavioral Health

CFBH Research

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CFBH faculty and staff are engaged in research and evaluation of children's behavioral health services as well as training, technical assistance, and knowledge sharing that supports, improves, and sustains programs and systems that serve children and their families.

Current CFBH Research

Access Vets

This study evaluates the impact of a proven customized employment service on employment rates of Veterans with spinal cord injury (SCI) who have not been successful with other vocational service options. Results will guide research and practices for adoption of ACCESS-Vets as part of the Veterans Health Administration's vocational services to improve employment outcomes for Veterans with SCI. 

Contact: Areana Cruz, MSEd
Funding Agency: James A Haley Veteran's Hospital

All Pro Dad: Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy and Family Engagement Multimedia and Awareness Campaign

The Family First organization has developed and implemented a literacy campaign within their All Pro Dad (APD) program designed to enhance father and child relationships, while also building child reading and academic skills. The evaluation plan examines the implementation experiences of new chapters and identifies opportunities to support their continued growth and success. This plan includes research questions and methods that are guided by APD goals. It reports on strategies that Family First can use to support the growth and enhance the positive impact of APD chapter events on dads and their children. As Family First continues to grow the APD program, the evaluation plan will expand its focus to assess changes over time in parent knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to the literacy campaign. 

Contact: Donna Burton, PhD
Funding Agency: Family First

Cross-Site Analysis and Case Study of STOP Program Grantee Perspectives on Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program Implementation

This study informs ongoing implementation and improves program effectiveness for violence prevention and mental health training programs funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in response to the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. A cross-site analysis of programs across 128 sites throughout the U.S. is included in the study, as well as  an in-depth case study analysis across diverse geographic locations. The impact of COVID-19 on system-wide efforts to address mental health and violence prevention in schools is being explored. Results will inform broader understandings of violence prevention and mental health program implementation in schools through dissemination of findings to the school, practitioner, and research communities.

Contact: Anna Davidson Abella, PhD
Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Evaluation of the Hillsborough County Enhanced Jail Diversion Program

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of a jail diversion initiative aimed at providing enhanced services to individuals with mental illness and co-occurring disorders charged with minor offences and provide treatment and intensive case management in lieu of criminal justice charges.

Contact: Anna Davidson Abella, PhD
Funding Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Evaluation of Implementation to Fidelity of Evidence-Based Services

The Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA, 2018) reforms child welfare financing streams to provide prevention services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system; allows for federal reimbursement for community mental health, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skills training; and seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster care by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care. In order to meet these changes, states and local areas must be prepared to implement programs and practices that have been determined by the FFPSA Clearinghouse to be either well-supported, supported, or promising. 

Contact: Amy Vargo, PhD
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Children and Families

Evaluation of Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP) and Family Intensive Treatment (FIT)

This intervention is designed to prevent child abuse and neglect as well as recurrence of child maltreatment. The goal of this study is to examine the effect of the intervention of targeted outcomes among child welfare-involved parents.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funding Agency: Casey Family Programs

Evaluation of the Wellness Within Reach/Fully in Transformation Program

This evaluation assess the implementation and impact of promoting SAMHSA’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness [emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and financial] among members at a mental health clubhouse.

Contact: Roxann Taormina, PhD
Funding Agency: Barancik Foundation

Family Intensive Training (FIT) Model Evaluation

The FIT model was developed and implemented by the Florida Department of Children and Families throughout Florida for child welfare involved families with substance abuse issues. This study assesses the effect of FIT on child safety, permanency in case the child was placed in foster care, and parental wellbeing.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Children and Families

Family Connections

Family Connections is a community-based prevention program for families with children who are at-risk of child maltreatment. The program is intended to increase protective factors, help families meet their basic needs, and reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of the Family Connections program for child welfare involved families and describe the Family Connections model and process utilized by the Florida providers. The study will also meet the guidelines of the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse eligibility criteria.

Contact: Cathy Sowell,  MSW, LCSW
Funding Agency: Action 4 Child Protection/Casey Family Programs

Just in Time (JIT) Foster Parent

The project provides direct services to foster/adoptive parents, relative caregivers and birth parents of foster children through the Just In Time training (JIT) Website. The website provides information and web-based training videos that facilitate foster/adoptive parents, relative caregivers and birth parents learning strategies to improve their parenting skills. The web-based trainings will include such topics as: trauma informed parenting, mentoring of biological parents by foster parents; strategies to support successful reunification, how to support foster children’s education; support the healthy development of infants and toddlers in foster care; importance of providing quality health care; brain development; and adolescent development. 

JIT projects vary throughout states.

Contact: Pam Menendez
Funding Agencies: Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Families (ohio); Turning Points for Children (Philadelphia); Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services; Nevada Department of Child and Family Services

Making Connections for Mental Health

This collaborative evaluation assesses the implementation of the Making Connections Initiative at sites across the U.S. The Making Connections Initiative supports the development of prevention-focused, responsive strategies to promote mental well-being among men and boys.

Contact: Roxann McNeish Taormina, PhD
Funding Agency: Movember Foundation

Parent Partners for Families of Miami-Dade County

This project examines efforts to establish an integrated continuum of care for families with parental substance misuse/use disorders and children in substitute care. A key component of this project includes a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test a peer specialist intervention focused on these child safety outcomes: reducing child length of stay in out of home care, reducing the number of child placements once in care, and reducing re-entry into the system, as well as an implementation sub-study to document project implementation and assess factors associated with implementation of the peer support model ("Parent Partners"). In addition, a focus is on these child/family well-being outcomes: increasing parental engagement into substance treatment, increasing parental protective capacities, and increasing child engagement into needed behavioral health services.

Contact: Linda Callejas, PhD
Funding Agency: Citrus Health Network, Inc

Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program Evaluation (PBHC)

This project is evaluating the Florida PBHC. The goals of the PBHC include increasing the number of pediatric behavioral health screenings and referrals, improving collaboration between pediatric primary care and behavioral health providers, and improving children’s behavioral health outcomes. USF researchers are responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of program implementation and analyzing data related to the target outcomes. 

Contact: Areana Cruz, MSEd
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Health

Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI)

This project provides direct services to foster/adoptive parents, relative caregivers and birth parents of foster children through the Just In Time training (JIT) Website. The website providse information and web-based training videos that  facilitate foster/adoptive parents, relative caregivers and birth parents learning strategies to improve their parenting skills. The web-based trainings include such topics as: trauma informed parenting, mentoring of biological parents by foster parents; strategies to support successful reunification, how to support foster children’s education; support the healthy development of infants and toddlers in foster care; importance of providing quality health care; brain development; and adolescent development. 

Contact: Pam Menendez
Funding Agency: University of California, Berkley

Regional Partnership Grants to Increase the Well-Being of, and to Improve the Permanency Outcomes for, Children Affected by Substance Abuse (PFPC)

PFPC is  aimed at increasing parents’ recovery from substance abuse disorders, improving outcomes for children, and enhancing family functioning and stability. FSSNF expanded their voluntary, non-judical program to provide a comprehensive array of services and supports to meet the needs of families impacted by substance misuse. Eligible families were randomly assigned to either the control group (services as usual) or the intervention group (enhanced services).  The expanded service array for the intervention group adds peer support and health care coordination to supplement existing services and supports to improve outcomes for children 0-5 years of age and their families.  USF is conducting the comprehensive assessment on the performance and outcomes of PFPC. The evaluation includes a process evaluation, partnership evaluation, and outcomes analysis designed to 1) assess the implementation of the program, 2) understand the development of the collaborative group brought together to serve and support the target population, and 3) examine the impact of the program on child and family outcomes.

Contact: Monica Landers, PhD
Funding Agency: Family Support Services of North Florida

Statewide Evaluation: Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addiction Health Equity Program

This evaluation study is focused on using data provided by the Indiana DMHA Equity Office to assess how well statewide equity efforts have worked to reduce behavioral health disparities, particularly those experienced by racially or ethnically minoritized communities within the state; LGBTQ+ youth; and others. Findings will be used to address two key evaluation aims: 1) evaluate DMHA equity initiatives for effectiveness, give recommendations for future directions, identify continuous quality improvements for organizational equity processes, and assist DMHA staff with technical assistance; and 2) use DMHA data to inform DMHA’s work, service provision, funding decisions, policy, and training regarding health equity.

Contact: Linda Callejas, PhD
Funding Agency: Indiana Dept of Mental Health & Addiction Health Equity

The Impact of the S.P.A.R.K. Intervention on Risky Sexual Behavior and Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The curriculum-based group intervention aims to improve academic success, healthy relationships, and prevent involvement in problem behavior including risky sexual behavior. This study examined the effect of SPARK of Duval intervention on targeted outcomes among young people ages 11-17 living in out-of-home foster care.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funding Agency: Children's Home Society of Florida