History

For more than three decades, the Family Welfare Research and Training Group has partnered with the Maryland Department of Human Services. This partnership began with Dr. Catherine Born’s vision of a University/State partnership to provide empirical research to shape and enhance cash assistance and child support policies and programs for Maryland's families. Dr. Born, a Research Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, was the principal investigator on all projects since the inception of this partnership through her retirement in 2015. Under her leadership, Maryland was the first state in the nation to release empirical data about families affected by the 1996 welfare reforms, and one of the few states that continue to provide information about these families and their outcomes.

Mission & Vision

The Family Welfare Research and Training Group is committed to providing empirical research, data management reports, and training that shape and enhance safety net and child support policies and programs for Maryland's families. We strive to assist state and local program managers, front-line staff, legislators, advocates, and other stakeholders in addressing the many challenges associated with implementing and evaluating safety net and child support programs.

What We Do

Public policy research for Maryland’s safety net and child support programs has been a primary focus of our work. We also support our partners at the Maryland Department of Human Services with policy and skills training as well as data and information services that shape and enhance policies and program for Maryland's families.

Public Policy Research

The mission of the research team is to conduct quality research on current social policy issues, linking social science findings to policy formation and decision-making. Through public policy research, we leverage administrative data to provide empirically based, policy-relevant information for stakeholders in three Maryland programs: (1) Child Support (also known as the IV-D program), (2) Temporary Cash Assistance (Maryland’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—TANF—program), and (3) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The public policy research team produces two legislatively mandated reports:

  • Life after Welfare is a longitudinal, nationally-acclaimed study of welfare leavers and their outcomes after leaving the cash assistance program; and
  • Maryland Child Support Guidelines Case Level Review is a quadrennial review on the application of and deviations from Maryland’s child support guidelines.

The public policy research team also provides the Maryland Department of Human Services with reports that examine current participants in their program caseloads as well as examine subgroups within the caseloads. All research reports provide policymakers with empirical data that can be used to inform policy, program management, and program monitoring and evaluation. The core of our analytic approach consists of a descriptive profile of participant demographics and circumstances, program participation, and employment patterns as well as how these domains interact with one another.

Data and Information Services

Human services programs collect and process a huge volume of administrative data from a variety of sources. Combining our knowledge of the programs and policies with expertise in large data systems, we are uniquely positioned to provide analytical information that allows the Maryland Department of Human Services to make data-informed decisions. Our online management reporting system provides easy access to data and information necessary to track program performance and trends. We assist the department with responding to legislative or other stakeholder inquiries and have been instrumental in providing meaningful data to committees and workgroups that promote the progress of program and policy development.

Skill Development and Training 

Our skill development and training team specializes in workforce support through the delivery of training for Family Investment Administration employees at the Maryland Department of Human Services. The team provides staff support training for local agency front-line workers, supervisors, and managers who serve customers in all of the Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City through facilitation of workshops, instructor-led discussions, simulations, and other interactive and experiential activities.

Training topics and course development modules include leadership, coaching and mentoring, and team leader training for supervisors and managers. For staff at all levels, we offer customer service and case management modules, teamwork, diversity, stress management and reduction, among many others. Course content can be further customized to best meet the needs of a particular jurisdiction, local office, or region. A variety of training methods and presentation tools are utilized to deliver professional classroom training to staff in all 24 Maryland jurisdictions.