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Why We Need the Center for Child Policy

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There are many unanswered questions and ethical dilemmas in the child maltreatment field that complicate both policy-making and direct practice.

Child maltreatment and child protection are among the most complex and nuanced practice fields in the social sciences, and very few issues have easy or clear-cut solutions. 


Professionals must often make critical decisions in environments where much-needed information is ambiguous, misleading, or simply unavailable.  


The Center for Child Policy identifies the most urgent dilemmas that have potentially far-reaching consequences for maltreated children and their families, and we work to provide solid and thoughtful guidance to help policymakers and practitioners make better and more valid decisions.  

Not all research is created equal.

In the social sciences, “gold standard” research studies (randomized controlled trials) are rare, largely because of the poorly controlled environments in which this research must be conducted.


Adapting study methodology to fit less than ideal circumstances can reduce the strength of the data and limit whether findings can be applied outside of the particular group that was studied. Therefore, relying on a single study or a small body of research can lead to  conclusions that are not supported by study data.   


The Center For Child Policy begins each project with a scoping review to locate and analyze an existing body of data on a topic, the strength of existing data and the degree to which it can be applied outside the original research setting. In this way, we can help prevent reliance on misleading or inaccurate research findings to drive policy and practice. 

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Many factors other than science can drive public policy, including ideology, misinformation, funding constraints, personal values and perspectives, political interests, and public pressure. 

Ensuring that policy and practice are based on the best available evidence requires both the availability of such data and a willingness among professionals to use it. 


Center for Child Policy products are designed to distill the best available evidence into clearly thought out conclusions and recommendations, and distribute them to people who have responsibility to enact policy or ensure its effective implementation in direct practice.


We also help the field understand when factors other than solid empirical evidence are driving policy and practice recommendation and decisions. This includes identifying well-intentioned practice models that are either not supported by data, or that have unintended harmful consequences to children and their families.

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