CSDA takes a collaborative role in new US research centre

October 8, 2018

CSDA Co-Director Rhema Vaithianathan will be collaborating with the newly-established Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy, Research and Training (CICM) at Washington University of St. Louis.

The CICM will be focussing on using systems science and research to understand child maltreatment issues further. CSDA will be mainly involved in the Steering Committee Learning Collaborative (SCLC).

Rhema’s involvement with the initiative includes being on the Steering Committee Learning Collaborative (SCLC) and contributing to a scientific map that will serve as a resource to the research community on what projects to pursue further. She is also on the consultancy board for the Child Welfare Data SMART project, led by Dr Francis Drake.

Rhema says she is looking forward to being part of this project, acknowledging that the future of child maltreatment research lies within the centre’s broad approach and existing experience in the field.

“Large-scale social problems like these can only be addressed through complex and multi-faceted approaches, and the work of the Center will be crucial to making progress towards the reduction of abuse and neglect and the consequences of maltreatment.”

“The participants bring expertise from many different disciplines and have a strong record of collaboration. I recognise as well that this centre will build on established collaboration to advance intervention and training to promote healthy development for children who have experienced or are at high risk for abuse and neglect.”

The SCLC will use Group Model Building, a systems science method that allows for a shared understanding of a complex research issue, by researchers in all fields and disciplines. By dividing consultants and researchers into different groups, the whole collaborative will share  ideas to map out current issues in child maltreatment, then design and implement projects to work on those issues. There will also be an emphasis on sharing what is learnt during the process and introducing a new, collaborative approach to the field.

The Child Welfare Data SMART (Specification, Management, Analysis, Replication & Transfer), project will also involve consultation with Rhema, based on her extensive experience in the field of data-driven child maltreatment research. Data SMART is a five-state study that will explore the current approaches to using predictive-risk modelling for child maltreatment research and evaluate their usage in different contexts. The evaluation will also be used to assess potential disparities in the child welfare systems across the five states.

CICM will be funded by one of the institutes within the National Institutes of Health,  the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research.