7 Research Centers To Focus on Services for Disadvantaged Families

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The Health and Human Services Department will spend $21 million over the next five years to establish seven research centers focusing on social services for poor children and their families.

The seven centers, which were announced earlier this month by Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala, will work with state and local social-services agencies to help them adopt successful intervention strategies and improve their own bureaucracies to better deliver help to struggling families.

A New Network

"Strengthening the capabilities of child-welfare agencies is an important part of our work," said Mary Jo Bane, the assistant secretary for children and families, whose office will oversee the new resource centers.

H.H.S. officials said the centers will also play an integral role in implementing the family-preservation-and-support program that was enacted in 1993 as part of a budget bill.

The law authorized aid to states with the goal of encouraging them to redirect their child-welfare systems so that they emphasize efforts to keep families together, and helping state social-service agencies to improve service delivery.

Topics covered by the new national centers include programs designed to assist abused and neglected children, revamping the nation's foster-care system, services for at-risk adolescents and children growing too old for foster care. Programs will address legal issues facing child-welfare agencies, improving the management of social-service agencies, respite and crisis care, and programs for at-risk children with medical and substance-abuse problems.

Meeting the Challenge

The centers will serve as clearinghouses, building expertise on model programs for poor families.

"Front-line workers need the most up-to-date information to meet the critical challenges they face every day," said Olivia Golden, the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. "Our centers will give this to them."

Two of the contracts went to research centers that have been operating for several years. The other five centers in the network are new and are expected to be up and running soon.

Vol. 14, Issue 12

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