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April 2009Vol. 10, No. 3Building Research Partnerships to Improve Outcomes for Children

The child welfare field and university research programs have much to offer each other, and partnerships between these two groups may advance child welfare research and improve child welfare outcomes. To promote this type of collaboration, the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), with support from Casey Family Programs, has developed a report and toolkit, Strengthening University/Agency Partnerships to Enhance Child Welfare Outcomes: A Toolkit for Building Research Partnerships. The report draws on the literature, focus groups, interviews, and survey data to identify strategies for building child welfare research capacity.

Designed as a toolkit for enhancing child welfare research partnerships, this guide provides practical guidance on:

  • Establishing a funding stream for child welfare research
  • Setting up a child welfare research agenda
  • Promoting research career development
  • Implementing action steps at the university, State, and national levels

These activities are illustrated by examples from partnerships around the country. In addition, the toolkit lists tips for successful university/agency research partnerships:

  • Develop and sustain ongoing working relationships.
  • Learn from and understand each other's cultures and contexts.
  • Plan for leadership transitions and garner support and involvement of leaders while establishing peer-to-peer relationships.
  • Establish clear parameters for project timeframes.
  • Understand the processes for data access, data sharing, data retention, and confidentiality.
  • Develop procedures for review of publications and presentations from the research.
  • Achieve institutional review board approvals in a timely manner.

Appendices offer a variety of resources, including examples of university-based child welfare research centers, programs, and initiatives.

Strengthening University/Agency Partnerships to Enhance Child Welfare Outcomes: A Toolkit for Building Research Partnerships can be found on the IASWR website: (233 MB)