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Consortium for Child Welfare Studies Is Off to a Busy Start

The new Consortium for Child Welfare Studies (CCWS) within the Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) was launched just six months ago, and already has been involved in much work. Committed to building community partnerships and engaging in projects which bridge mental health and child welfare systems of care, CCWS responds to community needs by developing, implementing, and evaluating systemic interventions. CCWS is already under contract with three agencies.

The Juvenile Welfare Board funded the first project, Characteristics and Service Patterns of Children in the Florida Child Protection System. Rick Brown and Lodi Lipien are investigating several aspects of Florida's child protection system, including at-risk factors of children entering the system, and the recurrence of maltreatment for children who previously had exited the child protection system. They are also using a computer simulation program to model the flow of children as they enter and transition among services provided by the Department of Children and Families.

Hillsborough Partners: An Intensive Preventive Services Collaboration, is funded by the YMCA, and is a collaborative effort of ten social agencies and providers that offer a continuum of intensive prevention and early intervention services to children in foster care who are at risk for out-of-home placement. The partnership is being evaluated by CCWS co-coordinators Ilene Berson and MaryAnn Kershaw to determine its effectiveness in achieving positive, safe, and stable environments for children and their caregivers.

The CCWS newest project, funded by the American Health Care Association, asks CFS researchers to conduct an evaluation of mental health care for child welfare clients in Florida. The evaluation will involve an analysis of the mental health needs in the child welfare system and the degree to which they are being addressed by the mental health services received.

Interviews with key stakeholders will be conducted to obtain their views of best practices and to identify any deficiencies in the current system of behavioral health care for child welfare clients. Specific attention will be paid to examining linkages between characteristics of abuse and neglect, the traumagenic effects of the maltreatment, and provision of trauma-based interventions.

For additional information about the efforts of CCWS, contact Ilene Berson at (813) 974-7698 or MaryAnn Kershaw at (813) 974-6419.

The Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) is a department of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida. The faculty and staff of CFS are committed to enhancing the development, mental health and well-being of children and families through leadership in integrating research, theory & practice.

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