Research & Training

CFS Research and Training Activities by Topic

 Child Welfare System and Practice Improvement

A4CP Florida Family Connections Evaluation

This study examines outcomes among child welfare involved parents who were referred to Family Connections based upon the family’s risk level at the time of the investigation closure and compares these outcomes with those who did not participate in services with the equivalent risk levels at the time of the investigation closure.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funding Agency: Action 4 Child Protection

Client and Provider Roster for FL Department of Health

Researchers at the University of South Florida developed data collection spreadsheets and analyzed data for the FL Department of Health’s Pediatric Behavioral Health Collaborative initiative. This initiative provides integrated behavioral health services within pediatric primary care practices in various regions of Florida. The research team at USF is currently providing evaluation services for this initiative.

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

Evaluation of Child Maltreatment Outcomes in Florida Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood
Home Visiting Initiative

The purpose of the Florida Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Initiative
is to implement selected Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA)-approved, evidence-based home visiting programs that best meet the needs of their communities. USF researchers are examining child maltreatment outcomes for participants in the MIECHV intervention.

Contact: Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD
Funding Agency: Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalition, Inc.

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
Funding Agencies: 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
Funding Agency: 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
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Children and Families

Hillsborough County Enhanced Jail Diversion Program Evaluation

The USF team is developing documentation and a system for the Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS) to convey basic information about the evaluation to people enrolled in the Juvenile Diversion Programs program. The team will use the SAMHSA developed & required interview protocol. At intake a few measures are added, including questions about insurance coverage, the Vulnerability Index: Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) & the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) scales for trauma experience & resilience. Added to the interviews at intake, 6 months and discharge, shorter status check interviews will be conducted at 3 and 9 months (if still enrolled) that will include an update of contact information and completion of the VI-SPDAT. This frequency will help reach the SAMHSA 80% retention rate.

Contact: Anna Davidson Abella, PhD
Funding Agency: Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners

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

The 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
Funding Agency: Children's Home Society of Florida

Just in Time (JIT) Foster Parent Training

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: Pamela Hardy-Jones
Funding Agencies: University of California, Berkley;Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Families; Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services; Nevada Department of Child and Family Services; Turning Points for Children