SSW News

Reunification of Families with Children in Foster Care is Focus of SSW Institute Grant Award

October 29, 2020    |  

Reunification of Families with Children in Foster Care is Focus of SSW Institute Grant Award

Children's Bureau Provides Funding for Establishing a National Quality Improvement Center to Improve Well-being of Families with Children in Foster Care

BALTIMORE, MD. – The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) has been awarded a 5-year, $10 million grant to support timely, stable, and lasting reunification and well-being of families with children in foster care.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families’ Children's Bureau, will allow the Institute and participating partners to establish a National Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification (QICR).

The intent of the project is to work with five to seven public child welfare sites nationally, to identify, assess, and implement promising and evidence-based practices that address the individual and collective needs of birth families with children in foster care. These sites will be identified through an application process to launch in the Spring 2021. The interventions implemented through the QICR will support successful reunification of families by preserving, nurturing, and strengthening parent-child relationships and supportive community connections and resources, including the meaningful engagement of birth parents, foster families, youth, alumni of foster care, and other stakeholders.

“The Children’s Bureau Quality Improvement Center (QIC) model is the kind of work the Institute wants to be involved with on behalf of children and their families,” said Michelle Zabel, assistant dean and director of the Institute. “QIC grants allow us, with our research and implementation science expertise, to generate and disseminate much-needed knowledge for child welfare professionals to improve the quality and delivery of services for youth.”

The QICR is a partnership with Children and Family FuturesTribal Law and Policy InstituteYouth MOVE National, and The Center for the Study of Social Policy with an expert pool that includes birth parents, youth and alumni of foster care, foster parents, and other content experts, all of whom will be engaged throughout all activities of the QICR.

Marlene Matarese, PhD, MSW, deputy director of the Institute and clinical associate professor at the SSW is principal investigator for the grant. She expressed gratitude to the Children’s Bureau for prioritizing the need to strengthen family relationships when a child enters foster care.

Marlene Matarese, PhD, MSW, deputy director of the Institute for Innovation and Implementation and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Marlene Matarese, PhD, MSW, deputy director of the Institute for Innovation and Implementation and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

“When the whole family receives the supports and services they need, they are more likely to achieve timely, stable, and lasting reunification,” Matarese said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to reimagine child welfare through a focus on comprehensive, culturally responsive, family-centered, community-based solutions.”

“I am excited and honored for the School of Social Work’s Institute for Innovation and Implementation to host the Quality Improvement Center for Family Reunification,” added SSW Dean Judy Postmus, PhD, MSW. “This opportunity to help support the Children’s Bureau vision for systemic change through intentional policy, practice, and culture shifts offers enormous possibility to develop a foster care system that supports entire families.”

Among the SSW faculty and staff members who will contribute to the QICR along with Matarese, are Elizabeth Greeno, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C, who will be the lead evaluator; Terry Shaw, PhD, MSW, MPH; Antoinette Donnelly; Samuel Macer, MSW; Paige Hammond, MHS; and Morgan Bosset.

For more information, contact Mary T. Phelan, senior media relations specialist at maryphelan@umaryland.edu or 443-615-5810.

About the Institute for Innovation & Implementation (the Institute)

The Institute for Innovation & Implementation (the Institute), founded in 2005, is a part of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. The Institute is committed to building research-based, innovative, sustainable, and transformative youth-and family-serving systems and services, and to develop the capacity of the workforce within these systems. They do this work in partnership with government agencies, health care providers, and community-based organizations in order to improve outcomes for and with youth and their families.

About the University of Maryland School of Social Work

The University of Maryland School of Social Work, founded in 1961, is highly ranked and respected. Its mission is to develop practitioners, leaders, and scholars to advance the well-being of populations and communities and to promote social justice. As national leaders, they create and use knowledge for education, service innovation, and policy development.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore

Founded in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. UMB enrolls more than 6,700 students in six nationally ranked professional schools — medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work — and an interdisciplinary Graduate School. The university provides more than $40 million each year in uncompensated care to Maryland citizens, and receives more than $667 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore visit www.umaryland.edu.