(LOS ANGELES)—On Monday, August 8, MDRC—a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect low-income people and communities—released a new study on Los Angeles-based organization Children’s Institute, Inc., (CII) titled “Improving Service Delivery for Children Affected by Trauma.”
Created in 1974 by the Ford Foundation and a group of federal agencies, MDRC’s mission is to find solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation—from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates. MDRC is best known for mounting large-scale demonstrations and evaluations of real-world policies and programs targeted to low-income people.
Founded in 1906, Children’s Institute, Inc., is one of the country’s largest children’s services organizations, serving more than 28,000 children and families a year in some of Los Angeles’s most challenged communities, including Watts and South L.A. CII is a multi service organization that provides holistic and coordinated support to children and families by engaging them in multiple, trauma-informed services: clinical services to address children’s mental health needs, early childhood programs for young children, programs designed to help parents and guardians better support their children, and youth activities designed to develop protective factors. A central aspect of CII’s clinical services is using evidence-based practices—highly specified treatment modes that research has shown to be effective in treating a targeted population. This comprehensive model contrasts with the often fragmented and uncoordinated child welfare system.
MDRC used a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to assess the implementation of CII’s services during the study period. In particular, the team assessed the level of client participation in multiple types of services and evidence-based practices. The results of the study found that nearly all clients receiving CII’s clinical services also participate in family support and/or youth development services at CII, which is a stated goal of the organization’s Integrated Service Model. To implement the integrated model, CII had to overcome the challenges of coordinating care across a fragmented system. Flexible funding—like that provided to CII by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Social Innovation Fund—was essential to providing clients with non-clinical services. The study found that other multiservice organizations might also want to creatively weave together public and private funding streams to integrate services effectively.
With nearly a third of CII’s clinical clients receiving an evidence-based practice, the study’s findings confirm CII’s leadership in providing these state-of-the-art services, especially given the 2012 estimate that only 2 percent of youth receive care that is evidence-based through California’s county mental health plans.
The in-depth fidelity study examining CII’s implementation of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy indicated that CII’s fidelity to the treatment model was aligned with that of other community-based organizations in similar fidelity studies.
Moving forward, CII is poised to contribute to the national dialogue on how to implement holistic, trauma-informed human services for high-risk populations. The organization will utilize the results of this study to contribute more broadly to the mental health field by disseminating findings related to the implementation of evidence-based practices in real-world contexts, and by demonstrating improved clinical outcomes for high-risk youth who receive family support and youth development services.
CII is also involved in MDRC’s ongoing Building Bridges and Bonds study of fatherhood programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this separate and unrelated study, MDRC and CII will be building evidence about a unique CII program called Project FatherhoodSM that promotes and builds parenting skills in men, increases conflict management skills, and reduces co-parenting conflict for both parents.
- Download the report here.