School of Social Work to Provide Research Expertise to Rochester Nonprofit Child Services Agency

Release Date: March 20, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – In what appears to be a match made in social research and human services heaven, the University at Buffalo School of Social Work's Buffalo Center for Social Research has entered into a five-year contract to provide research expertise to Hillside Family of Agencies, a children and family human services nonprofit headquartered in Rochester, N.Y.

The contract between UB and Hillside represents an innovative partnership aimed at overcoming the challenges and barriers associated with the development and implementation of the most effective treatments for children and families facing a wide range of behavioral and emotional challenges, said Catherine N. Dulmus, associate dean for research in the UB School of Social Work.

"The National Institute of Health has identified that on average it takes 17 years for research findings to be implemented in routine practice settings," she said. "The work between UB's School of Social Work and Hillside Family of Agencies aims to accelerate research to practice and practice to research, which will ultimately benefit the youth and families Hillside serves.

"It's an important relationship between the university and one of the largest child-serving human services agencies in the country. I can see it growing and expanding, and ultimately becoming a model for community/university research partnerships," Dulmus added.

"By leveraging the talents of the University at Buffalo, Hillside and nationally renowned researchers, we will develop new insights and innovative service solutions that will benefit children and families and contribute to the human services field," said Maria Cristalli, Hillside Family of Agencies chief strategy and quality officer.

The goal of the partnership is not to duplicate a research center at Hillside, Dulmus said.

"Our goal is to translate research into real-world practice. This partnership will allow us to move our joint goals and strategic intents forward by combining our respective strengths. As partners, we'll both be more effective and efficient as we join resources and expertise," said Dulmus, who also serves as the director for the Buffalo Center for Social Research.

The partnership provides Hillside with access to the university's research expertise. At the same time, UB researchers will gain valuable insight by being able to experience the realities and challenges associated with practice in child welfare, mental health, developmental disabilities, youth development, juvenile justice and special education services.

"It is a win-win situation whereby our strengths complement one another," said Dulmus. "UB will assist Hillside in program development and evaluation, and Hillside will provide UB with a wealth of recommendations and opportunities to research cutting-edge issues and problems that affect children and their families.

"It's one thing for us at the university to be thinking about it. It's another thing for the research questions to be driven from the practice community who face the day-to-day challenge of serving children and families in crisis."

The two organizations have hit the ground running since entering the partnership. UB is evaluating a youth court where Hillside residents weigh the merits of disputes among residents and issue rulings on these disputes. The two organizations are also developing a longitudinal study to follow youth after discharge, as well as conducting program evaluations on new service models at Hillside.

The partnership will also tap into expertise beyond the School of Social Work, bringing in, when needed, experts from other university disciplines to assist Hillside in fulfilling its research-to-practice strategic intent, according to Dulmus.

"Our interests do overlap, and our grant applications that will support our joint research will be strengthened by incorporating expertise from other areas of the university," she said.

Hillside Family of Agencies is a family and children services organization that provides child welfare, mental health, youth development, juvenile justice, special education, and developmental disabilities services across Central and Western New York. Hillside Family of Agencies is comprised of Crestwood Children's Center, Crestwood Children's Foundation, Hillside Children's Center, Hillside Children's Foundation, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and Snell Farm Children's Center.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Housed within UB School of Social Work, the Buffalo Center for Social Research strives to advance faculty and student research programs that identify real-world solutions for local and global social problems impacting individuals, families and communities through community partnerships that link practice to research. For more information, go to for the Buffalo Center for Social Research, for the UB School of Social Work and for the University at Buffalo.

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