About Us

Child & Family Research Institute
Where research intersects with practice


The Child and Family Research Institute enhances the lives of children and families through transformational research, program evaluation, curriculum development and policy analyses that foster meaningful solutions for vulnerable populations.


CFRI is a continuation/evolution of the Protective Services Training Institute (PSTI).  PSTI was the first institute created at the Center for Social Work Research.  Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Schwab, PSTI contracted with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to train Child Protective Services workers.  For over 10 years, PSTI trained thousands of caseworkers across the State of Texas.  While the focus on training was successful, there was a general desire to expand the institute’s impact to include research activities related to child welfare services and family issues in general.  Thus, CFRI was created in 2010 to encompass both training and research related to child and family issues, with a strong emphasis on child welfare issues.

Our Work

Located with the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, our institute focuses on six core areas: child welfare, teen pregnancy & prevention, child care, disabilities, Latino immigrant families and school social work. Utilizing our experiences in both direct social work practice and social welfare policy, our researchers seek to build evidence for social work practitioners and policy makers to improve practices and systems.

The Child and Family Research Institute values strong academic, practitioner and community relationships.  We view practitioners and program administrators as the experts of their work and strive to create research and program evaluations whose findings can be utilized by those working directly with children and families.

Core Values

The Child and Family Research Institute values:

  • Utilization.  We strive to produce research, program evaluation and policy analyses that will be useful to practitioners and policy makers.
  • Partnership.  We collaborate with our funders to ensure that our processes and final products match the needs of agencies, stakeholders & consumers.
  • Innovation.  We conduct research to develop innovative practices and policies for the social work field to impact the lives of children and families.