Recent Work

Funded by Casey Family Programs and in partnership with New York University School of Law, Action Research is conducting a study to understand different models of parent representation.  The study will compare the outcomes associated with different models of parent legal representation in the New York City Family Court and seek to understand the processes that contribute to these outcomes.  The evaluation takes a mixed-methods approach, using propensity score matching techniques to compare quantitative outcomes as well as interviews with parents, court staff, attorneys, and other key stakeholders to understand the strengths and weakness of the different models.  The Casey Family Programs Human Subjects Committee, the NYU IRB, the Action Research IRB, and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) research committees reviewed and approved the protocols for this study.

Advocates for children and public child welfare agency are engaged frequently in class action litigation.  In many states and localities, the parties sign settlement agreements that commit the public agency to undertake reforms and meet performance goals.  As part of these settlements, monitors are appointed to provide neutral assessments of the progress of reforms.  Action Research supports the monitors by analyzing administrative data provided by public agencies and consulting on data and analysis issues.

Action Research works with many stakeholders in the New York City child welfare system, including the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Family Court, advocates for children and parents, private service providers and others working to improve the lives of New York’s most vulnerable children and families.  Our projects aim to improve preventive services that help preserve families and keep children safely in their homes; increase the rate of permanency of children in foster care; and explore the recruitment, training, support, and retention of foster parents.

Young people caught up in the juvenile justice system have a constitutional right to an attorney.   These attorneys, known as juvenile defenders, often carry large caseloads and face significant resource challenges. As a result, while most sectors of the justice system use information technology to populate robust sets of performance measures and to influence public policy, juvenile defenders have had little access to data specific to their field and have no commonly recognized indicators to assess trends and measure performance.  Action Research is assisting the National Juvenile Defender Center in its efforts to fill this gap.

Studies show that youth in foster care experience more negative reproductive health outcomes than their peers outside of foster care, yet no rigorously evaluated curriculum designed to reduce these disparities exists.  Working with several New York City foster care agencies and other researchers, Action Research will assist in the evaluation and sustainability of CAI’s Development for Youth (DFY), Take Charge! Project. CAI is in the sixth year of an initiative funded by the federal Administration for Children and Families and the Office for Adolescent Health that tests the efficacy of a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health curriculum in reducing sexual risk behaviors and unplanned pregnancy among NYC youths in foster care.  Action Research is conducting a case study and reviewing implementation data to identify sustainability strategies and best practices for engaging participants.