To fulfill our mission to advance social, racial, and economic justice locally and globally, UConn School of Social Work (SSW) partners with several state of Connecticut human service agencies. These long-term partnerships generate cutting-edge and impactful research that influences agency policies and practices. This research includes data-driven evaluation and analysis of programs and services with the goal of improving access, performance, and outcomes in the areas of mental health, addiction, child welfare, elderly services, poverty and homelessness, among others. Partnerships also include education and training of agency staff, and opportunities for SSW student involvement in research and field placements.
School of Social Work & Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
The Research Division of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS) is a nationally recognized research leader among state mental health and substance abuse agencies. The members of the DMHAS Research Division staff are employees of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, with grant and contract funds from the National Institute on Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as the State of Connecticut.
The Research Division conducts program evaluations and cost effectiveness studies and investigates many issues of policy relevance in the mental health and addictions fields, including supportive housing, mental health and addictions among criminal justice-involved populations, trauma interventions, and implementation of evidence-based practices. Research conducted in Connecticut informs decision-makers about the effectiveness of treatment and the impact of policies on persons with behavioral health disorders. At times, SSW undergraduate and graduate students have opportunities to work with the Research Division when grant funding allows.
For more information about the Research Division, visit the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services website.
Selected Reports and Publications from the DMHAS Research Division
Specialized CIT for Young Adults - Final Evaluation
This study was an evaluation of an early diversion program called Specialized Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) for Young Adults (SCYA). SCYA was federally funded through a three-year grant from SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Connecticut was one of three states who received this Early Diversion grant, in what was intended to be a pilot of promising programs. All three awarded programs utilized CIT, but in different ways. The primary distinguishing features of the CT program were that it focused on the young adult population and also that it was state-wide instead of covering one metropolitan area, as the other grantees did. The SCYA program was designed to provide alternatives to arrest for young adults exhibiting or at risk of behavioral or mental health problems, while the other states included adults of all ages. The overall SCYA program goals were to reduce arrest and incarceration, and to increase access and utilization of community services for young adults.
Gambling Prevalence in CT's Correctional Population - Final Report
The general purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of gambling behaviors within the Connecticut correctional population. This project was funded by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Problem Gambling Services Unit, with the intention of helping them to work with the Department of Correction to plan appropriate and targeted services for inmates. DMHAS did not have comprehensive gambling-related data on its correctional population, and funded this project to address this need by conducting anonymous self-administered surveys on gambling amongst offenders in six Department of Correction (DOC) facilities.
Safe Schools Healthy Students - Final Evaluation
This study was an evaluation of state and local Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) diffusion initiatives, which seek to promote the physical and emotional well-being of youth; prevent youth violence and substance use; and create safe and respectful school climates. The project supports SS/HS implementation in three local school districts that serve over 36,000 students. Students in SS/HS districts face significant disparities across indicators such as poverty levels, academic achievement, chronic absenteeism, suspensions and expulsions, and arrests.
State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis - Final Report
This study was an evaluation of the State Targeted Response (STR) project. STR was a two-year, federally-funded program through a grant from SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The purpose of the CT STR program was to combat the opioid epidemic through various treatment and recovery support programs, prevention initiatives, training, workforce development, and Narcan purchase and distribution.
This study was an evaluation of a youth and young adult program called CT Strong (Connecticut Seamless Transition and Recovery Opportunities through Network Growth). CT Strong was federally funded through a five-year Now Is the Time -- Healthy Transitions grant from SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) who partnered with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Healthy Transitions program was designed to improve access to treatment and support services for youth and young adults ages 16 – 25 that had or were at risk of developing a serious mental health condition.
School of Social Work & Connecticut Department of Social Services
The UConn School of Social Work and the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) have worked collaboratively for over twenty five years. DSS has an Office of Organizational and Skill Development (OSD) that provides training and organizational development services to DSS and its staff. The OSD staff and the services are part of a formal partnership between the school and DSS. This arrangement insures effectiveness, efficiency, and shared resources that benefit the partners, clients and The State of Connecticut.
OSD is staffed by professionals from the School of Social Work who provide a variety of training, media and organizational development activities to the agency’s nearly 2,000 employees. Operating under a contractual agreement for more than 30 years, the partnership has changed over time to meet DSS’ developing needs.
Education and training for DSS staff and its partners is focused on programs, leadership and professional growth and development. DSS staff are provided regular training opportunities in a range of program areas such as Medicaid, child care, child support, elderly services, TANF, foodstamps and case management. In addition civil rights, supervisory, managerial and systems training are part of an employee’s growth and development plan. A media production center develops educational materials for training projects, group presentations, and other needs through newsletters, videotapes, and other communications tools. Organizational development activities are initiated and managed by the OSD staff to support service effectiveness and efficient processes. Cultural responsiveness and social justice are fundamental part of training and organizational design services. Graduate students from the School of Social Work are placed as interns in DSS departments.
For more information about OSD, visit The Office of Organizational and Skill Development website.
School of Social Work & Connecticut Office of Early Childhood
In a groundbreaking collaboration, the School of Social Work, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and joined the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to create the OEC-UConn Performance Partnership in 2018. The partnership aims to prevent local children from experiencing the trauma of homelessness and to gauge those prevention efforts.
Through the partnership, OEC will contribute funding to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness's “be homeful” fund, which provides emergency assistance to help families with children remain in their homes and avoid entering homeless shelters — a method known as diversion. UConn’s School of Social Work will study the outcomes of this approach over a three-year period.The new evaluation center draws on the expertise of UConn researchers to implement data-driven policy-making in support of the OEC’s coordinated system of care.
“We’ll be tracking the well-being of children and families across the state as well as the performance of the OEC office and its programs,” says Assistant Research Professor Kathryn Parr, who directs the partnership from the UConn side. “Ultimately what we’re doing with this partnership is putting the expertise of UConn in service of the public good.”
For more information about OEC, visit the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood website.
School of Social Work & Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Under the leadership of Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Brenda Kurz and Dr. Patricia Carlson, the UConn School of Social Work’s Performance Improvement Center works closely with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) and its community partner agencies to evaluate services offered to families of children at risk for further maltreatment. “We provide a rigorous and systematic approach to quality improvement,” explains Dr. Kurz, Associate Professor and MSW Program Director. “The goal is to enhance access, service quality, interventions, and outcomes.”
From an initial focus on the Community Support for Families (CSF) program within the Connecticut DCF’s Family Assessment Response (FAR) track, PIC has broadened its work to encompass all of FAR and, more recently, the state’s Investigation Response (IR) track as well. Some 186,598 families have been served by the two tracts since PIC began its evaluation. Combining nimbleness with high-level data-programming and statistical skills, “PIC’s team of data analysts is particularly adept at delivering this model for performance enhancement,” says Dr. Kurz.