This application is submitted by an applicant with a background in clinical social work and services research. The overarching goal of this MRSDA (K01) is to understand the continued role of residential group care (RGC) in the treatment of youth with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). This MRSDA further aims to support the attainment of skills and knowledge that will lead to the implementation and testing of service delivery interventions and strategies within these systems aimed at reducing utilization of RGC. The complexities involved in this area of study demand the feedback of experts from multiple disciplines who understand the needs of EBD children, have a deep understanding of public service systems, have knowledge about the delivery of evidence-based interventions and have experience in community-based research involving vulnerable populations. Proposed training goals will provide needed instruction and mentoring in (1) advanced quantitative methods, namely multi-level modeling and propensity score matching;(2) the development, testing and implementation of evidence-based practices;(3) conceptual and methodological approaches to studying community-based settings such as RGC;(4) qualitative and mixed methods research;and (5) ethical conduct of research. - The proposed research plan takes a two-pronged approach: (1) It will study processes in a child welfare (CW) and mental health (MH) system of care as it wrestles with how to implement EBPs and reduce use of RGC;and (2) it will study changes implemented by RGCs as they attempt to serve children and families from a more evidence-based driven perspective and thus remain a viable service provider within a system of care. The research will be conducted in 3 phases using mixed methods, and proceeding from an analysis of nationally representative child welfare survey data (NSCAW) (Phase 1) to local analyses (Phases 2 and 3). Phase 2 will examine strategies and policies related to reducing utilization of RGC, and through clinical epidemiology, the characteristics of children who continue to be placed into RGC versus those who are diverted into community-based alternative intervention programs. Phase 3 will study 'usual care'RGC and investigate how RGCs are responding to changes in the larger CW/MH service system environment. Training and research will take place in a highly supportive environment;this MRSDA is expected to lead to submission of an R34.
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