Research & Training

CFS Research and Training Activities by Topic

 Child Welfare System and Practice Improvement

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

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. USF will evaluate Florida’s implementation and fidelity of nine evidence-based practices (EBPs) as the state transitions to FFPSA: Motivational Interviewing, Multisystemic Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Healthy Family Florida, Homebuilders, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Nurse Family Partnerships, and Parents as Teachers.

Contact: Amy Vargo, PhD
Funder: Florida Department of Children and Families/Administration for Children and Families

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

This project assesses whether two specific interventions have a positive impact on various child welfare outcomes among families involved in the child protection system. The NPP intervention was implemented by one child welfare community-based care agency in Florida—Kids Central, Inc. (KCI), with the focus on families who have already experienced, or are deemed to be at higher risk for, child maltreatment. The FIT intervention was developed by a group of key behavioral health stakeholders in Florida and aims to help families involved in the child welfare system due to parental substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Both studies seek to determine the extent to which these interventions prevent child maltreatment, expedite the achievement of permanency, and maintain child safety.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funder: 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 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: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD/Cathy Sowell, PhD
Funder: Action 4 Child Protection/Casey Family Programs

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
Funder: Florida Department of Children and Families

Impact of the SPARK Intervention on Risky Sexual Behavior and Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The Speaking to the Potential, Ability, and Resilience inside Kids (SPARK) 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
Funder: Children’s Home Society of Florida/Administration for Children and Families

Just in Time (JIT) Training Website

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 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 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: Pamela Menendez