Social Research Institute

SRI's Mission Statement

The Social Research Institute (SRI) provides research, training, and consultation to build and enhance the capacity for human service systems change through evidence-based practice. SRI is also involved with development of resources for research. The Goodwill Initiatives on Aging and the Utah Criminal Justice Center are components of SRI.

SRI's Vision
Created in 1982 as the research arm of the College of Social Work, SRI is responsive to community, state, and national health and human services needs. In addition, SRI aids in the development of international service systems and is responsive to the needs of people from diverse cultural communities. In partnership with faculty, practitioners, policy makers, students, and individuals served through health and human services activities, SRI seeks to ensure effective service outcomes while creating new capacities within institutions, systems, communities, and families.

By promoting collaboration with various partners, SRI
· Facilitates innovation 21st century research, training, and demonstration projects utilizing basic and applied models of research
· Creates more effective and inclusive research strategies
· Disseminates research findings to improve service practice
· Designs and conducts needs assessments of public health and social service problems and service systems
· Plans and implements service delivery programs
· Applies for and obtains federal grants
· Applies for and obtains institutional review board approval for research involving human subjects
· Evaluates program and policy impacts
· Provides training in research methods and data analysis
· Provides technical assistance to social service and public health agencies
· Provides testimony and recommendations on research to the Utah State Legislature.

SRI currently administers twenty-five grants and contracts totaling 4.5 million dollars. The grants and contracts originate from seven federal, 15 state, and four local sources. Current initiatives within SRI focus on:

· Adoption
· Aging
· Child Welfare
· Disabilities
· Foster Care
· Mental Health
· Poverty & Welfare Reform
· Substance Abuse

 

 

Child Welfare

SRI has had contracts with the Division of Child and Family Services since the mid 1990's.  Through this contract, stipends are available to train staff for the Division.  SRI also conducts research and evaluations for DCFS under this contract.

Since 1995, DCFS has been undergoing a planned philisophical shift to provide better services to vulnerable children and families throughout the state.  SRI has conducted a number of surveys in DCFS to assist them in their efforts to improve service delivery.  Additionally, SRI conducted studies related to practitioner and foster parent turnover.

The U. S. Children's Bureau has entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the Social Research Institute at the College of Social Work, University of Utah to develop the National Child Welfare Training Institute (NCWLI) for public and tribal mid-level child welfare leaders. Dr. Norma Harris, Director of the Social Research Institute, College of Social Work is principal investigator and Dr. Ray Kirk, Director of Research and Evaluation, Independent Living Resources, Inc., Durham North Carolina is co-principal investigator.

The purpose of the project is to develop and provide leadership skills among mid-level managers in public and tribal child welfare agencies in order to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families in those systems. Participation in NCWLI programs is intended to increase the effectiveness of mid-level managers and to contribute to building the human capital needed in child welfare agencies and the child welfare systems in which they operate today and in years to come.

Welfare Reform

Since 1997, a collaborative effort between Utah's Department of Workforce Services (DWS) and the Social Research Institute has focused on learning more about the effects of this new welfare policy on families who receive cash assistance.  Over the years, the SRI/DWS partnership has focused on learning more about the barriers to employment faced by welfare recipients as well as their work and education backgrounds, access to resources, and experiences engaging with the welfare system.  Data are gathered through in-person interviews where particpants are able to "tell their story" which brought them to where they are today.

HIV Prevention Planning for the Latino Community

This is a program where parents learn new parenting strategies, and youth develop skills such as problem solving and decision making.  Families work together to improve communication and advance their understanding of the issues confronting youth such as drugs, HIV, and STDs.  This program consists of 12 sessions over 6 weeks.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

The UT CAN project is funded by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is being implemented by the Utah Department of Human Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.  The project goal is to develop a transformed child and adolescent mental health and substance abuse infrastructure that delivers effective, coordinated and accountable services for Utah's children and adolescents.

The Utah State Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has contracted with SRI to develop a Technical Assistance Center for Children's Services (TACCS).  Technical support is provided through linking mental health providers with industry experts, facilitating program and treatment protocol development, and collaborating with stakeholders to improve existing services and develop new programs.

W.D. Goodwill Initiatives on Aging

The W.D. Goodwill Initiatives on Aging serves older people in the areas of community service, professional training, and social research.

The heart of the Initiatives is the Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) program, which is designed to help seniors live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Because vital services keeping an older person independent are often beyond the guidelines of government programs, NHN offers services such as a friendly visit, painting a home, installing a new furnace, or simply cleaning up and grooming a yard.  The neighborhood volunteres, graduate and undergraduate students of social work, private corporations, county agencies, and the W.D. Goodwill Foundation come  together under the auspices of the W.D. Goodwill Initiatives on Aging to make things happen in a more timely manner with a spirit of respect and dignity among all involved.  To date, more than 500 individuals have received services from NHN.

Utah Criminal Justice Center

The mission of UCJC is to serve the needs of the criminal justice systems in Utah, university students and faculty, and the citizenry of Utah by bringing together the talents, resources, and leadership of various academic departments and colleges at the University of Utah and the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice in a physical center dedicated to education, training, and research in the area of criminal justice.

Goals:  The goals of UCJC include the following:

1.  the production of usable research on criminal and juvenile justice issues at the request of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the Utah State Government;

2.  the recruitment of faculty, drawn from various colleges and departments at the University of Utah, to teach an interdisciplinary curriculum in criminal and juvenile justice; and

3.  the training and placement of university students in the Utah criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Health Related

Over the past few years, faculty have been involved in conducted research and evaluation in health related areas.  Their efforts include a preliminary needs assessment related to ovarian cancer, a study of children with cerebral palsy and children with disabilities.  These faculty have relationships with the Huntsman Cancer Center, Primary Children's Hospital, and others to work collaboratively in their efforts.