Families can be supported through community-level programs and approaches. Communities can be determined by a variety of ways including need, family structure, geography, and vocation. CFRP studies how individual families can be strengthened through supports at these community levels.
Families’ Experiences with Texas Family Courts
Family court cases, including divorce and custody issues, account for approximately one-half of all civil cases in Texas. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the negative effects of divorce on children, yet little is known about how the family court system minimizes or exacerbates child trauma from divorce. In partnership with the Office of Court Administration’s (OCA) Family Court Advisory group and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) is determining the extent to which the current family court system successfully meets the needs of all parties involved, particularly children. This study is not an evaluation of the court system, but rather it is an opportunity to identify the views on the family court process of various stakeholders (e.g. judges, attorneys, parents, advocates) to determine if further study and recommendations are warranted. Surveys and focus groups will be conducted with family court judges, lawyers, mediators, advocates, and staff.
With 15 active military installations, Texas has the second highest active duty military population in the United States. Approximately 10 percent of all active duty forces in the U.S. reside in Texas, and nearly 1.6 million veterans live in Texas. Over the past 15 years, the new and expanded deployment of troops has led to an increased rate of child abuse and neglect in this community. This led the Texas Legislature to task the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to develop and implement a prevention program to support Texas military and veteran families in an effort to prevent child abuse and neglect. Each site is working with military representatives from their local military installation(s) and multiple community partners to develop a community-based support system for military and veteran families. CFRP assisted the department’s Prevention and Early Intervention Division to determine the effectiveness of efforts that serve these vulnerable military families. Through data analysis, interviews, and focus groups, CFRP studied how programs can be adapted to fit the unique needs of military families and how they work to increase protective factors within families. For methodology, findings, and lessons learned, click here for the final evaluation report.
The complex needs of at-risk families often extend beyond what direct service programs can provide in isolation, and many community-level issues cannot be addressed with a service-level-only approach. A comprehensive approach that includes both direct service and community-level strategies should lead to a higher return on investment, but the return may not be actualized for many years. In the interim, a community’s progress can be assessed to show that progress is being made and to provide communities with benchmarks for measuring performance. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is committed to supporting communities in their efforts to make community-level change for their children and families. CFRP is working with the department’s Prevention and Early Intervention Division to determine how to measure community-level change and how to identify the markers of progress that indicate a community is successfully moving toward community-level change. CFRP is conducting focus groups with community coalitions, surveying stakeholders, and scanning the field for best practice guidance.