Action Research publishes landmark study on parent representation in child welfare

Children spend significantly less time in foster care – with no compromise of safety – when their parents get interdisciplinary law office representation, according to a major new study published in Children and Youth Services Review by Action Research and the New York University School of Law. The study is the result of a three-year evaluation funded by Casey Family Programs. It is the largest study of parent representation in family court ever conducted, tracing the outcomes of nearly 10,000 families using cutting-edge statistical techniques. Lead author Luke Gerber commented, “This paper arrives at a pivotal moment where the federal government will now pay for legal representation for parents, and we hope these findings will encourage child welfare leaders across the nation to replicate NYC’s pioneering approach.” Co-author Yuk (Erica) Pang remarked, “In addition to our statistical analyses, I was grateful for the opportunity to interview parents, judges, attorneys, social workers, and other stakeholders involved in the NYC Family Court. We developed a better understanding parents’ needs and how we can better serve children and families in our communities.”

Read the study

Read the press release from NYU

Read media coverage

Rally for Fair Futures Initiative at City Hall

On Monday, March 25th, councilmembers, child welfare agencies, nonprofits, foundations, advocates, and young people rallied on the steps of City Hall to support the Fair Futures initiative. Fair Futures would provide coaching and other services to youth aging out of foster care or with a history of foster care, with the aim of providing the supports they need to be successful adults. Fair Futures organizers are calling for private and public investment that would reach $50 million a year when fully scaled, but that would produce net savings through increased employment and reductions in homelessness, justice system involvement, and other expensive public services. The Fair Futures model draws from several evidence-based programs. Many aspects of the model have been tested in New York City with the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and other private funders. Action Research serves as a monitoring, learning and evaluation partner to the Hilton Foundation’s Foster Youth Initiative. For more information and regular updates, follow @FairFuturesNY on Twitter.


Learning Lunch Series: Katherine Haver

We were fortunate to have Katherine Haver join us as a guest speaker at our learning lunch series this week. Katherine has a strong background in research and policy analysis globally. She recently moved to New York City from Victoria, Australia, where she helped design and implement a new statewide model of kinship care, led a project to develop therapeutic approaches for children and young people in out-of-home care, and led evaluations to help drive evidence-based policy within the province’s health and human services. Katherine shared her experiences contributing to the reform of the child and family services system in Victoria. Prior to this effort, Katherine worked in humanitarian policy and practice, focusing on humanitarian financing and the delivery of aid in insecure environments. She was a partner at Humanitarian Outcomes, where she helped grow the organization from a new consulting firm to a respected voice in the humanitarian field.

New Intern Spotlight: Jona Beliu

We welcome a new intern to our team: Jona Beliu! Here’s some information about Jona below.

Jona Beliu is a recent graduate of Oberlin College. She has a degree in Politics with a minor in Law and Society and a concentration in Insertional Relations. Her passion has always been community organizing, coalition building and overall creating a more equitable and just society for everyone. Currently, Jona interns at Action Research and the Center of Court Innovation as both of their research assistants, focusing on NYC childhood development and services.

What We're Reading by Landra Brown

1. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

This book discusses the dramatic increase in families living on an income of $2.00 per person, per day. Millions of Americans are living at or below the poverty line, and it seems to have gotten worse since the 1990s. If you’re interested in extensive research regarding the effects of poverty on families, this is a good read.

2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This heartfelt book is about a father sharing his life experiences with his son. Coates discusses race and history in an immersive and thought-provoking way. This is the book for you if you enjoy relatable stories with good lessons to learn.

3. There are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz

This book is about the lives of two boys who grew up in Chicago’s public housing system. The author takes the reader through the obstacles that these young boys experienced, all while trying to enjoy what’s left of their childhood. I would highly recommend this book.

Learning Lunch Series: Katie Napolitano

Action Research hosted Katie Napolitano as a guest speaker at our weekly learning lunch series. A former Program Officer at the Tiger Foundation, Katie has spent the last 12+ years working with poverty-focused organizations in a funding and advisory capacity, providing strategic guidance and capital to help fuel their growth and success. More recently, Katie has worked directly with a number of foster and at-risk youth in NYC, assisting them on their academic and career trajectories. After becoming CASA Advocates, her and her husband adopted three young men who aged out of foster care in NYC. She discussed some of her current work building New York City’s support services for foster youth with our team.

Diversity and Inclusion Library

Creating a safe climate of understanding and respect differences in ethnic and racial heritages, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, and physical disabilities is a central value of Action Research. As part of our diversity and inclusion initiative, the intent of the AR Diversity and Inclusion Library is to create an environment for our staff where awareness of one’s cultural, gender, and religious identity are the norm, as well as to promote a deeper understanding and respect of others’ differences. Digital access to the library is available for AR staff (and hopefully other shortly) on books, resources and articles on many topics. Some example topics are race and ethnicity, race and ethnicity in public policy and child welfare, gender and sexual orientation, religiosity/spirituality, among other topics.

Learning Lunch Series: Aisha van Ter Sluis

Aisha van Ter Sluis was a guest speaker at our Learning Lunch series on October 26, 2018. Aisha is a social impact thought leader with experience in defining, designing, and deploying change initiatives in the social sector. She has years of experience advising and directing programs that serve children and youth in foster care. Aisha spoke about shifting the conversation around former and current foster youth from trauma informed care to healing centered engagement when addressing exposure to trauma (for more information about this topic, read an article published in Medium). Our team appreciated the opportunity to expand our thinking around the best strategies to serve youth in foster care.

APPAM 2018 Fall Research Conference

Luke Gerber and Erica Pang presented a paper presentation at the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management’s (APPAM) Annual Meeting in Washington D.C on November 10, 2018. At the conference, Luke and Erica presented and discussed findings from the Parent Legal Representation Study. They also attended panel discussions and poster sessions on child welfare and public policy research, among other topics. For more information about the Parent Legal Representation Study, view our projects page.