Completed Projects

Implementation research

Comprehensive Family Assessment in Child Welfare Services – evaluation of a demonstration project

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) through Ramsey County (RCCHSD) and the University of Minnesota (UMN)

RCCHSD, the county seat for St. Paul, Minnesota, examined child protection family assessment processes to incorporate, test, and adapt the Comprehensive Family Assessment (CFA) Guidelines. Workers learned to address the entire family network in a dynamic, ongoing, strengths-based process that considers family dynamics and environmental/social context including specific cultural, ethnic and linguistic concerns. From the beginning of the project, the School of Social Work at University of Minnesota was the third party, independent evaluator. The project was initiated by Dr. Wells, as the Gamble-Skogmo Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy and RCCHSD. It is was completed under the auspices of the UMN Centre for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) with Dr. Wells acting as a consultant to the project.

Development of new models of service

Excellence in Child Welfare Practice

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development

PI: Dr. Susan J. Wells

During the study of innovation in public social service delivery, the researchers discovered that certain child welfare sites stood out with respect to how staff across the spectrum spoke of working to improve their practice. Using cross-site analyses and pattern matching with the qualitative data from the site visits, we sought to identify and discuss commonalities and differences among these exemplar sites regarding approach to practice, practice strengths, and challenges identified by workers. The goal of this project was to identify mechanisms by which public child welfare agencies could foster a local commitment to practice excellence.

Innovation of Public Social Services (2015)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development

Researchers conducted a multi-year comparative analysis of service innovation implementation in five sites. The research results included information for the community, staff, and managers of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and Aboriginal Delegated (Child Protection) Agencies in British Columbia. Findings from the project informed adjustments to the innovation to ensure its usefulness province-wide. The project has also resulted in the development of instruments for such studies and a design for the larger study of the quality of child protective services. As important as the regional benefits are, the project also contributed to knowledge development in the field of innovation in public social service delivery. Findings addressed some of the current gaps in research and knowledge in the field. Discussion of innovation in public social services spans the globe. This project informed the innovation network world-wide. For more information about this project please contact Dr. Susan Wells at

Complex Care and Intervention Youth Outcome Evaluation

British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development

This project consists of a series of small evaluations of a program under development in MCFD. Dr. Chuck Geddes, psychologist and consultant to MCFD, developed an assessment and intervention planning tool based on knowledge of complex, developmental trauma in children. The tool is being used within the context of collaborative care teams to guide assessment, decision-making, and practice in two key areas: Social worker case management and caregiver approaches and interventions. These studies include an evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data on implementing the innovation from the Care Team members involved in the program. A future goal is to include the youths in the outcome evaluation. The purpose of these projects is to establish the perceived and objective success of the Complex Care and Intervention (CCI) program as a treatment program.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for Aboriginal Communities – a project of Kelowna’s Aboriginal Concurrent Disorders Team

Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention; British Columbia’s Interior Health Authority Aboriginal Programs; First Nations Health Authority Community Action Initiative

The primary aim of this project is to identify evidence-based and promising practice models that effectively coordinate and deliver Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) services within Aboriginal communities. These service delivery models would combine Aboriginal models of healing with evidence-based practices to create a full spectrum of services. The project goal is to contribute to a coordinated service delivery system responsive to Aboriginal desires and needs. The information stemming from this collaborative effort will stimulate discussion within Interior Health (IH), and between IH and related Aboriginal community partners to result in policy and program development that leads to more effective services for Aboriginal clients in the City of Kelowna. Program development will also provide the basis for grant applications to conduct a comprehensive study and evaluation of the new program(s). Team members are: Westbank First Nation, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Métis Community Services of BC, Interior Health Authority of BC, Aboriginal Initiatives of UBC Okanagan Campus, and the Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families.

Knowledge translation

Interventions to Improve Cultural Competence, Appropriateness, and Safety in Service Delivery – Systematic Literature Reviews (2012-2017)

Historically, racial and ethnic biases have contributed to lower socioeconomic status and higher risk of ill health for diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. Policy makers have addressed this problem by targeting the factors that lead to poverty and great income inequalities. In addition, service providers are attempting to improve their own cultural and linguistic competence, thereby improving client outcomes, yet little is known about the effectiveness of these interventions. Researchers in these projects reviewed and synthesized research that evaluates the effectiveness of adaptations to improve cultural competence and outcomes for diverse populations. The findings identified core components of these adaptations that are applicable across a variety of service settings.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2014-2017)

This systematic review identified extant themes in the research regarding cultural adaptations across a broad range of health and mental health services and synthesized the most rigorous experimental research available to isolate and evaluate potential efficacy gains of cultural adaptations to service delivery.

Irving K. Barber Endowment (2016)

This systematic review located and evaluated research on cultural adaptations made to juvenile justice services and aggregated the findings in an overview of intervention efficacy. Themes and variations among interventions were analyzed and assessed.

Literature reviews for Ministry of Children and Family Development on evidence based practices for services to Aboriginal children and families

Ministry of Labour, Citizen’s Services and Open Government

This project supported the work of the Ministry for Children and Family Development (MCFD). The first part of this project was focused on developing a theoretical framework for better understanding the context of bias in service delivery in order to identify evidence-based practices that will increase cultural competence, cultural safety, and community service utilization. The project sought to 1) complete a document detailing the literature on evidence-based practices with Indigenous children and family services and 2) complete a proposal to evaluate MCFD innovations in family assessments.

Development of an Aggregate Case Record Review Instrument for Critical Cases

BC Interior Region Ministry of Child and Family Development

Through the co-location of an MSW field placement with the Centre, MCFD supported the development of a case record review instrument and case review methodology that may be used to conduct research in collaboration with the Ministry on selected critical cases in the system.

Identifying past issues and future policy directions for MCFD

By 2012, the British Columbia Representative for Children and Youth released about 20 reports about MCFD policy and practice since the signal 2006 review by the Honourable Ted Hughes. The Centre conducted a review of these documents to identify any major trends in issues or recommendations that would help inform future policy and practice.