5 Things You Should Know about Military-Connected Youth

July 31, 20175-things-list, military

The experiences of military-connected youth are distinct in many ways from children in civilian families. Many challenges are faced by military-connected youth and yet there is also access to opportunities unavailable to other children. Learn more about ways in which the experiences of youth with parents in the military are unique in 5 Things to Know about Military-Connected Youth.

Click for all CFRP 5 Things To Know.

How Does Texas Support Youth in Military Families?

July 24, 2017military

Loving mom returning home to her child

The experiences of military-connected youth are distinct in many ways from children in civilian families, as described in 5 Things to Know about Military-Connected Youth. Specific challenges may come in the form of frequent moves and dealing with separation from a parent during training or deployment. Though military-connected youth are resilient, states and communities often provide mentoring and other family-support services to address the needs of these youth and their families.

The state of Texas has the third largest active duty military population in the United States (nearly 117,000 personnel), representing over 10 percent of active duty forces in the U.S.[1] Additionally, nearly 1.7 million veterans, and 53,000 Selected Reserve members live in Texas.[2,3] To serve the state’s military children and families, the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Division of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services launched the Military Families and Veterans Prevention Program (MVP)[4] to provide a range of support services to the three largest military communities in Texas, home to more than three-quarters of Texas’ active duty members.[5]

The Military Families and Veterans Prevention Program (MVP)

The MVP program serves families with children up to 17 years of age at Fort Hood in Bell County, Joint Base San Antonio in Bexar County, and Fort Bliss in El Paso County and specifically aims to prevent child abuse and neglect. Contractors in these communities provide a range of services to military families, including parenting programs, case management, and mentoring, among others.

In their assessment of community needs, organizations contracting with PEI to deliver MVP services identified a need for mentoring and other services targeted toward military-connected youth. Mentors can be a way for youth to connect to someone else in their community and be a source of support. Additionally, mentoring programs can also be of service to military or military-connected parents. Mentors can provide activities for children, provide respite care, and assist youth with school projects.

In El Paso and Bexar Counties, Big Brothers Big Sisters matches military-connected youth to mentors in the community. In Bell County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas serve middle and high school youth with a variety of services such as counseling, educational, and recreational programs and activities. In addition to the benefits of mentoring, mentors can also help identify additional needs of military-connected youth and their families. Mentoring programs often cannot address all of the needs of military-connected youth; however, because youth are connected to MVP programs, mentors and program staff can connect them to partner agencies within the community to ensure their needs are met.

The MVP program indirectly supports military-connected youth by providing services to their parents and by promoting positive parental involvement in children’s lives.

milkidsThe program aims to educate, facilitate, and support parents’ abilities to provide continued emotional, physical, and financial support to their families. Positive parenting practices (e.g., parental support, monitoring, avoiding harsh punishment) are associated with positive child outcomes, such as better adjustment, higher self-esteem, higher grades, fewer behavior problems, and lower reports of deviance among school-age children.[6] Even if programs target parents of young children, parents may be able to use the skills they develop for years into the future or to help parent older children.

Military-connected youth grow up with both challenges and opportunities distinct from the experiences of children in civilian families. These youth face difficulties associated with frequent moves and separation from a parent due to deployment or training. However, military-connected youth are also resilient and benefit from the opportunities military life provides to them. Services provided by MVP in Texas aim to support and address the needs of these youth and their families by providing mentoring and other family-support services.

Learn more: http://childandfamilyresearch.org/publications/military-and-veterans/

[1] U.S. Department of Defense (n.d.). 2015 Demographics: Profile of the military community. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.militaryonesource.mil/footer?content_id=279104

[2] U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2015). State summary: Texas. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.va.gov/vetdata/stateSummaries.asp

[3] U.S. Department of Defense (n.d.). 2015 Demographics: Profile of the military community. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.militaryonesource.mil/footer?content_id=279104

[4] Texas Health and Human Services, Department of Family and Protective Services. (n.d.). Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs. Retrieved from https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Prevention_and_Early_Intervention/About_Prevention_and_Early_Intervention/programs.asp#military

[5] 28 U.S. Department of Defense (n.d.). 2015 Demographics: Profile of the military community. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.militaryonesource.mil/footer?content_id=279104. Based on calculations from figures on p. 187.

[6] Amato, P. R., & Fowler, F. (2002). Parenting practices, child adjustment, and family diversity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64(3). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3599936

Supporting Today’s Vulnerable Military and Veteran Families

July 3, 2017military



July 4, 2017 – Although the overall rate of child maltreatment is lower among military families compared to civilian families, rates of child maltreatment have risen faster among military families, particularly in the last decade.

Recognizing the need to support the most vulnerable military and veteran families in the state, Texas through the Department of Family and Protective Services – Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) launched its pilot Military Families and Veterans Prevention Program (MVP) in 2016. The Child and Family Research Partnership is evaluating the effectiveness of the MVP program and determining how communities can best meet the unique needs of military and veteran families.

CFRP met with program providers during the study and garnered insights on the challenges of providing services to this special population:

  • Providers were surprised by the breadth and depth of need for prevention services that could reduce the risk of child maltreatment in military and veteran families. Needs varied from housing to transportation to basic needs and more.
  • Military families tend to be more private and independent than civilian families. Many families do not seek help until they are in crisis. Reasons include perceived stigma attached to receiving services and misconceptions about the military held by the non-military community.
  • Frequent relocations among military families make it difficult for families to connect to resources, due to both unique schedules and increased isolation.
  • Critical to program success is building trust using military-affiliated staff (either staff who have a personal history being in the military or having family who was/is in the military), as well as having persistent and very targeted recruitment efforts.

For more on what CFRP learned from the program providers, see policy brief, Improving Family Services for Military and Veteran Families.

Welcome to New Staff and Student Researchers

June 20, 2017cfrp

CFRP is growing! We are pleased to announce that we have added two new full-time research associates to our data team: Kelli Mowdy and Daniel Tihanyi. We are also grateful to have the support of several new graduate research assistants: Selena Caldera, Marilyn Headley, Kathy Hill, Abby Lane, John Meyer Williams, and Sonia Pace. Learn more about our team.

new teammates_jun 2017

Would you like to receive notifications about future opportunities to join the Child and Family Research Partnership? Sign up for our Careers email list.

Father’s Day 2017: 5 Things You Should Know about the Importance of Fathers

June 13, 20175-things-list, fathers

Father involvement has increased dramatically over the past several decades, and simultaneously, the role of fathers in their families has evolved from conceptions of fathers as distant breadwinners to a more holistic recognition that they are equal co-parents. Accompanying these changes has been a growing interest among researchers in studying the role that fathers play in the lives of their children. We’ve highlighted the current landscape of what the research, including some helpful resources, says about today’s dads in 5 Things You Should Know about the Importance of Fathers.

Click for all CFRP 5 Things To Know.

What We’re Reading This Summer 2017

June 1, 2017cfrp

With the arrival of summer comes the 2017 CFRP summer reading list! Featuring both fiction and non-fiction — with topics spanning from the Civil War to urbanism, from foster care to equality — below are some favorite titles from our faculty and staff for this summer. Enjoy!

three thinking beyond
undeserving color between
george feminists underground
hillbilly originals urban

More about the books:

  • Three Little Words: A Memoir Paperback by Ashley Rhodes-Courter – An inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice. “Sunshine, you’re my baby and I’m your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she’s not your mama.” Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system. Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative, humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed – and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice. – summer pick by Cynthia Osborne, Director
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. – summer pick by Daniel Tihanyi, Research Associate
  • Beyond the Homestretch: What Saving Racehorses Taught Me About Starting Over, Facing Fear, and Finding My Inner Cowgirl by Lynn Reardon – After learning to ride horses as an adult, Lynn Reardon quit her office job in Washington DC and moved to rural Texas to open the racehorse adoption ranch LOPE (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers). Since then, LOPE has helped transition more than 750 thoroughbreds into new homes. In this riveting account, Reardon encounters dozens of unruly racehorses, all with special needs, unusual histories, and distinct personalities. She takes readers for a thrilling ride through the horse-racing world filled with offbeat horse people, colorful Texas culture clashes, veterinary melodramas, and surprising life lessons. Reardon may have saved these horses’ lives, but they saved hers as well. – summer pick by Kristyne Blackburn, Finance, Grants, and HR Director
  • The Undeserving Poor: America’s Enduring Confrontation with Poverty by Michael B. Katz – First published in 1989, The Undeserving Poor was a critically acclaimed and enormously influential account of America’s enduring debate about poverty. Taking stock of the last quarter century, Michael B. Katz’s new edition of this classic is virtually a new book. Katz highlights how throughout American history, the poor have been regarded as undeserving: people who do not deserve sympathy because they brought their poverty on themselves, either through laziness and immorality, or because they are culturally or mentally deficient. This long-dominant view sees poverty as a personal failure, serving to justify America’s mean-spirited treatment of the poor. Katz reminds us, however, that there are other explanations of poverty besides personal failure. Poverty has been written about as a problem of place, of resources, of political economy, of power, and of market failure. Katz looks at each idea in turn, showing how they suggest more effective approaches to our struggle against poverty. – summer pick by Andrea Michelsen, Research Associate
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein – In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation―that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation―the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments―that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as “brilliant” (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north. – summer pick by Erin Wu, Research Associate
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color. – summer pick by Allison Dubin, Research Associate
  • George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger – When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. Drawing on extensive research, Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger have offered fascinating portraits of these spies: a reserved Quaker merchant, a tavern keeper, a brash young longshoreman, a curmudgeonly Long Island bachelor, a coffeehouse owner, and a mysterious woman. Long unrecognized, the secret six are finally receiving their due among the pantheon of American heroes. – summer pick by Michelle Gutierrez, Research Assistant
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The highly acclaimed, provocative New York Times bestseller—a personal, eloquently-argued essay, adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah. Here she offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists. – summer pick by both Lauren Cenac, Research Associate & Rebecca Shirsat, Research Assistant
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. – summer pick by Anna Lipton Galbraith, Senior Research Associate
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance – From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country. – summer pick by Kaeley Benson, Senior Policy Associate
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant – Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo. – summer pick by Wendy Gonzales, Communications Director
  • The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida - In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world’s superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality. A bracingly original work of research and analysis, The New Urban Crisis offers a compelling diagnosis of our economic ills and a bold prescription for more inclusive cities capable of ensuring growth and prosperity for all. – summer pick by Vicky Pridgen, Outreach Program Coordinator

CFRP Develops New Survey Instrument to Help Determine the Value of Home Visiting

May 11, 2017fathers, home visiting, mothers

123213079_smResearch indicates that evidence-based home visiting programs should benefit the families who participate in them through improvements in maternal and child health, parenting attitudes and behaviors, better cognitive and social-emotional outcomes for children, and a lower incidence of child abuse and maltreatment. However, existing performance measures do not measure all of the ways participation in home visiting programs is related to positive outcomes for children and families.

Given the high level of investment at the federal and state level into evidence-based home visiting programs, identifying the extent to which home visiting programs provide value for families and children even if they do not complete the program is important for demonstrating home visiting as a sound investment.

The aim of the evaulation is to demonstrate how home visiting programs provide value to families in key parenting aspects that current federal benchmarks and state performance measures do not capture.

The state of Texas continues to invest in home visiting programs as an important support for families, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has prioritized understanding the ways in which home visiting programs provide value for families.

The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) is working with the department’s Prevention and Early Intervention division to conduct an exploratory descriptive evaluation, Describing Home Visiting Value Evaluation (DHVVE), to identify the ways in which home visiting programs provide value to participating families and how these benefits vary across family and program factors.

The aim of DHVVE is to demonstrate how home visiting programs provide value to families enrolled in the Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, specifically in key parenting aspects that current federal benchmarks and state performance measures do not capture.

CFRP and the DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention division have developed a short, 10-minute instrument called the Parent Check-In (PCI) survey for the project. The PCI is administered by home visitors to parents participating in the THV program all over the state. The PCI measures change over time in key parenting outcomes, including:

  • family self-sufficiency
  • parent routines and engagement
  • parenting efficacy
  • parenting stress
  • discipline techniques

To date, the PCI has been administered to over 2,000 Texas Home Visiting program participants. For more information about the PCI or if you’re interested in using it for your work, please contact cfrp@austin.utexas.edu.

For more about CFRP’s work on home visiting, go to Publications | Home Visiting.

Osborne Appointed to Panel of Experts to Build National Agenda to Reduce Child Poverty in Half in 10 Years

April 27, 2017child welfare, early childhood, family instability, osborne


According to the U.S. Census, 19.7 percent of American children, or 14.5 million, lived in poverty in 2015. Children represented 23.1 percent of the total population in 2015 and 33.6 percent of the people in poverty.

To address these staggering statistics, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) has convened a committee of experts to provide recommendations for federal investment aimed at reducing the number of children living in poverty in the United States by half within 10 years. Dr. Cynthia Osborne, child and family policy scholar with The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, has been appointed to the NAS 12-member multidisciplinary committee.

Dr. Osborne is founder and director of the Child and Family Research Partnership, a rigorous academic research center, and also director of the Center for Health and Social Policy, the home of social policy for students, faculty, and alumni of the LBJ School.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is a highly respected organization comprised of the country’s leading researchers that provides objective, science-based advice to federal legislators and policymakers on critical issues. Since its founding in 1863, the NAS taps “the energy and intellect of the nation’s critical thinkers” to provide nonpartisan, evidence-based guidance to decision makers in addressing policy challenges.

“I’m honored to be a part of this critical effort to aggressively reduce child poverty in our country,” said Dr. Cynthia Osborne. “Children are our greatest resource, but too many are mired in poverty and do not have the opportunities they deserve to reach their full potential. This committee is charged with identifying what we know works to move today’s children out of poverty, so that policymakers can determine how best to invest in our future.”

The five charges given to the Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years are highlighted below: (Click for the full descriptions)

  1. Briefly review and synthesize the available research on the macro- and micro-economic, health, and social costs of child poverty, with attention to linkages between child poverty and health, education, employment, crime, and child well-being.
  2. Briefly assess current international, federal, state, and local efforts to reduce child poverty.
  3. Identify policies and programs with the potential to help reduce child poverty and deep poverty (measured using the Supplemental Poverty Measure) by 50 percent within 10 years of the implementation of the policy approach.
  4. For the programs the committee identifies as having strong potential to reduce child poverty, the committee will provide analysis in a format that will allow federal policy makers to identify and assess potential combinations of policy investments that can best meet their policy objectives.
  5. Identify key, high-priority research gaps the filling of which would significantly advance the knowledge base for developing policies to reduce child poverty in the United States and assessing their impacts.



Please contact Wendy Gonzales at wendy.gonzales@austin.utexas.edu or 512-471-8921 if you would like additional information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Cynthia Osborne.

Original post: LBJ School of Public Affairs Center for Health and Social Policy

Study Shows New Child Welfare Professional Development Model Making Positive Impacts in First Year

April 27, 2017child welfare

ThinkstockPhotos-595761688_more horiz


AUSTIN, Texas — Maintaining a high-quality, professional, and stable workforce is integral to any child welfare agency’s capacity to fulfill its mission. To build a strong workforce, child welfare agencies must recruit and hire qualified applicants, provide training that adequately prepares new caseworkers to perform their job responsibilities, and retain high performing staff. However, the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff is a persistent challenge for child welfare agencies across the country. The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at The University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs, provides insights in a new report on an initiative that is contributing to building a stronger Child Protective Services (CPS) workforce in Texas.

In 2014, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) launched Transformation, a comprehensive set of initiatives that aims to improve the way CPS supports the safety, permanency, and wellbeing of children. One of the goals of Transformation is to strengthen the CPS workforce through training and support that better prepares frontline staff to perform their jobs.

CynthiaOsborne_cropweb “Texas has made it a top priority to continuously improve in all areas of the child welfare system, including how caseworkers are trained, retained, and supported,” said Dr. Cynthia Osborne, policy professor and CFRP director. “We’ve been asked to help the state understand whether the new approaches for training and supporting staff are working and why.”

A key component of Transformation is the introduction of an innovative model for training new caseworkers, known as CPS Professional Development (CPD), which CPS rolled-out gradually across the state from January to November 2015. CPS restructured the caseworker training and learning process from a more standardized and predominantly classroom-based approach to a model that emphasizes field-based training adapted to the local context, mentoring, structured supervision, and individualized, ongoing learning. CPD was designed to provide new caseworkers with a realistic job preview early in their tenure, help the agency better assess goodness-of-fit during training, and provide caseworkers with hands-on work experience prior to assuming their caseload, with the goal of better preparing caseworkers for the job and improving staff retention.

Osborne and her team at CFRP found that during the first year of statewide implementation of CPD, the training model is achieving the intended goals and contributing to building a higher-quality, more stable CPS workforce that will support the program’s mission to protect children from abuse or neglect.

“We surveyed thousands of new and veteran caseworkers and their supervisors and conducted numerous focus groups in every region of the state,” Osborne said. “After a year of implementation, we were able to measure the direct and positive impact of the CPS Professional Development model on the CPS workforce.”

Highlights of the findings from the full report include:

  • CPS staff overwhelmingly report that the hands-on and experiential approach under the CPD model is the right approach for training new caseworkers.
  • CPD-trained caseworkers are 18 percent less likely to leave within their first year than caseworkers trained under the old Basic Skills Development (BSD) training model, resulting in approximately 340 fewer caseworkers leaving the agency, which equates to approximately $18 million in cost avoidance annually.
  • CPD-trained investigators are more likely than their BSD-trained counterparts to meet critical casework deadlines, resulting in approximately 6,000 more children being contacted in a timely manner and having their investigation stages resolved more quickly.

The CPD model provides a new framework for training based on experiential and competency-based development that is associated with better prepared caseworkers, lower caseworker attrition, and more timely completion of key investigations deadlines. One of the greatest strengths of the CPD model is that it provides a set of core elements – exposure to fieldwork, mentoring, and structured supervision during training – but also allows for flexibility, which is of great value for an agency like Texas CPS that works in a dynamic environment.

Over the next year, Osborne and CFRP will continue the evaluation of the CPD training model and assess the casework quality associated with the new model.


The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) is an independent, nonpartisan research center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs dedicated to strengthening families and enhancing public policy through rigorous research. CFRP is the largest research center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and directed by Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D., one of the nation’s top child and family policy scholars. CFRP is the go-to resource for rigor and expertise for national and state policymakers and leaders who work with the most vulnerable children and families.


Executive Summary and Full ReportChild Protective Services Transformation: Evaluation of CPS Professional Development (R.011.0417)

For more on CFRP’s research on child welfare, click here.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Cynthia Osborne, contact: Wendy Gonzales, Child and Family Research Partnership, wendy.gonzales@austin.utexas.edu or 512-471-8921.

Director Cynthia Osborne Provides Expert Testimony on Capitol Hill on Fathers in Home Visiting

April 13, 2017early childhood, fathers, home visiting, osborne

On April 13, 2017 Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, provided expert testimony at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, D.C. on the growing evidence of the importance of fathers in early childhood intervention home visiting programs. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program is being considered for re-authorization by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.

Home visiting programs have rapidly expanded across the country as an evidence-based policy choice for supporting families with young children. They provide structured visits by trained professionals and paraprofessionals to high-risk parents who are pregnant or have young children.

Fathers play a crucial role in child development, but historically, social programs aimed at poverty alleviation, health, and parenting have been geared almost exclusively toward mothers and children. For the last five years, Dr. Osborne has led the team at CFRP in conducting multiple evaluations of the MIECHV-funded Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, the largest program in the country, including two evaluations focused specifically on father involvement. Highlights of the findings:

  • Multiple barriers (e.g., work schedules) often prevent fathers from participating in home visits, but fathers engage with home visiting programs in other ways including attending other program activities, completing homework or practicing lessons with the mother and child, or asking mothers about the visit.
  • Fathers value home visiting programs and cite their child’s improved school readiness and health outcomes as being particularly important.
  • Program staff can be trained to increase father participation including specifically inviting fathers to visits and program events, and being flexible with the timing and location of home visits to accommodate fathers’ work schedules.
  • Father participation in home visiting programs is positively linked to family retention, which provides both parents increased opportunity to benefit from the program. Families in which fathers have participated in at least one home visit stay in the program over six months longer than families in which fathers never participate, controlling for family, program, and community factors.

Watch Dr. Osborne sharing expert testimony during the Congressional Briefing:

The Child and Family Research Partnership is an independent, nonpartisan research center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin which is dedicated to strengthening families and enhancing public policy through rigorous research. Click for more on CFRP’s Home Visiting and Fatherhood research.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Osborne, please contact Wendy Gonzales at wendy.gonzales@austin.utexas.edu or 512-471-8921.