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We are a skilled group of professionals in social work, psychology, law, education, public administration, and public policy who work together to improve practice in the child welfare and child maltreatment fields.

The Institute for Human Services (IHS) drives meaningful and constructive change in the fields of child welfare and child maltreatment by equipping organizations and professionals with the knowledge, strategies, and tools needed to achieve best practice. 

Our core work involves assessing organizational and system practices; building staff capacity through education, training, coaching and technical support; and helping organizations navigate barriers and create structures that enable them to better protect and serve children and strengthen families. Our ultimate purpose is to contribute to making the world a better place for vulnerable children and their families.

Who We Are

We are a skilled group of professionals in social work, psychology, law, education, public administration, and public policy who work together to improve practice in the child welfare and child maltreatment fields.

Our staff members are thought leaders, policy analysts, adult learning specialists, skilled consultants, strategic planners, facilitators, and authors. Collectively, the breadth of our perspective and the depth of our expertise are unmatched.
Four decades of experience have afforded us a deep historical perspective and a broad understanding of complex current practice issues involved in this work. This dual perspective allows us to adapt to meet new challenges and demands while ensuring stability and continuity amid rapid change.

What We Do

We help organizations align their goals with best practices. Then we help them design and navigate strategies that lead to best possible outcomes.

Child welfare work is complex and fraught with challenges and dilemmas. Organizations can become overwhelmed by heavy workloads and the instability of constant change. We help organizations objectively assess what’s working – and what’s not.  We strategize and help deploy effective solutions, design training and skill building to strengthen capacity, and assess its effectiveness.
The following components form the core of our work:

  • We form partnerships with managers and staff in client organizations and work collaboratively in all facets of their work.

  • We involve the organization in completing a structured assessment of its vision and mission, needs, strengths, opportunities, and obstacles preventing the organization from achieving its goals.

  • We help identify clear and manageable objectives and action strategies, formalizing them into both strategic and operational plans.

  • We build the capacity of an organization’s managers and staff through competency-based in-service training, coaching, and other learning strategies to ensure that newly learned skills transfer to the job.

  • We help organizations establish ongoing data collection and evaluation methods to promote continuous quality improvement.

  • When requested, we can stay involved through reassessment, monitoring, and troubleshooting, both to constructively shape the work and to ensure its sustainability over time.

Our Expertise

IHS staff members have high levels of knowledge and expertise in the following areas of child maltreatment/child welfare policy and practice, and we are widely published on these topics:

  • Children's and parents' rights

  • Intrafamilial physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, and child torture

  • Assessing risk and ensuring child safety

  • Preventing maltreatment and recurrences

  • Family assessment and case planning

  • Effects of maltreatment on children's development

  • Preventing out-of-home placement

  • Effective systems of kinship, foster, and adoptive care

  • Reuniting children with their families

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Multidisciplinary practice

Why We Do It

By promoting safety, permanence, and well-being for children, and by strengthening their families, we have the potential to make the future a better place for all.

From day one, our mission has been to advance this broader global vision for the health and well-being of at-risk children and families.  Our unique contribution is to deploy our decades of expertise to building and strengthening the capacity of the organizations and professionals who serve them.

Our Value/Impact

Where empirical minds and empathetic hearts converge.

Anyone involved in child welfare work is undoubtedly moved by the plight facing vulnerable, at-risk children, us included. But to be effective partners and change agents, we believe any action must be informed by empirical data that drives us toward best practices – our true north. This ensures every action we recommend is practical, not merely aspirational. The value of our multi-disciplinary team is best evidenced by our impact across the globe. We methodically help local, national, and international government agencies, as well as independent organizations, progress in their efforts to serve and protect children and families.

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