Child Welfare Session Aims to Improve the Incorporation of Research into Practice and Policy

Dr. Lisa Schelbe facilitating discussion.
Dr. Lisa Schelbe facilitating discussion.

Child welfare professionals gathered in September for the Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The FSU College of Social Work co-sponsored a Practice, Policy, and Research Session at the conference with PCAA, the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being and the National Conference of State Legislators. FSU College of Social Work faculty members Dr. Lisa Schelbe and Dr. Bart Klika were convening members and participants of the session.

The session was designed to bring emerging scholars and researchers together with prevention leaders and policymakers to examine ways to improve the use of research in informing policy and practice affecting child welfare and their families. It began with brief comments about the need for connections between policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to examine ways to improve the use of research in informing policy and practice.

“We have a real opportunity to shift the way we think about the policy-practice-research relationship,” said Dr. Bart Klick, chief research and strategy officer of Prevent Child Abuse America, and research faculty member of the FSU College of Social Work. “Researchers need to be talking with policymakers and those implementing programs at the local level in order to ask and answer questions that are relevant for the field.  At the same time, the results of these studies must be communicated and disseminated in a way that can inform the creation of policy and practice. This session set the context for that process to occur!”

A panel of legislators was also facilitated by the staff of the National Conference of State Legislators, sharing their experiences. The panel included Representative Joan Ballweg (Wisconsin), Representative K.L. Brown (Alabama), and Representative. Tana Senn (Washington) who each discussed their state efforts in child welfare and child maltreatment prevention.

State leaders on child maltreatment prevention along with the legislators shared what worked well when using research to influence decision-making as a state leader or legislator as well as the barriers they encountered. Doris Duke Fellows and other early-career scholars shared ideas and experiences about disseminating their research to practitioners and legislators.

“Rarely have I seen researchers, practitioners, and policymakers come together to talk about the obstacles they face working together. Through the conversations at the session, it was readily apparent that there is great interest in building connections,” said Dr. Lisa Schelbe, associate professor at the FSU College of Social Work. “I left the session feeling optimistic that through developing relationships across the sectors and identifying the various challenges researchers, practitioners, and policymakers face, there is potential for collaborations that can address the most pressing issues in child welfare and child maltreatment prevention.”

Together, groups discussed current issues in their states/regions and strategies for working together. The lively discussions concluded with a summary of key points raised that were brought up consistently by each group including:

  • The acknowledged benefit of working together,
  • The challenges faced in regards to time, accessing data, and communicating; and
  • The importance of building trust and relationships.

The overall conclusion of the event was a desire to create meaningful collaborations. The session served as a jumping-off point to forming these crucial relationships, with participants exchanging information and planning future conversations.

Contact Dr. Lisa Schelbe ( to learn more. 

Monday, October 14, 2019 - 03:57 PM
Last updated: Tue, 06/02/2020 - 03:02 PM