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Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services
The Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services integrates research, education and training to advance the delivery of services to children and families.

Based at Portland State University’s School of Social Work, the Center works with agency and community partners to promote a child serving system that protects children, respects families, and builds community capacity to address emerging needs.


We provide services that a university is uniquely qualified to offer, including:

  • The power to convene professionals, scholars, parents and youth in transformative, system changing conversations.
  • The capacity to conduct research in partnership with communities, agencies, and families.
  • The ability to offer effective research-based training – lifelong professional learning for those who serve children and families.
  • The ability to form powerful partnerships between classroom and field to develop a diverse professional workforce for child welfare.


We are committed to the following outcomes in the systems we serve:

  • Skilled workers. Increase the competency, diversity, and professional education of social workers and other professionals serving the children and families.
  • Skilled leaders. Increase the number of child and family services leaders (supervisors, managers, policy makers and advocates) who are professionally educated, knowledgeable and competent in current practices.
  • Best and promising practices. Contribute to the evidence base for child welfare and increase the development and use of evidence-based and promising practices by public, private, and tribal children’s agencies.
  • Serving all citizens. Develop ways to bring state of the art child welfare practice knowledge to rural learners and ethnic and racial communities often not at the table.
  • Fairness and equity. Increase the fairness and equity of the child services system, reduce disproportionality of negative outcomes for children of color.

Center Information

The center includes more than 60 staff with various subject-matter expertise. To learn more, view our staff directory. For additional information about the center and the services we can provide, please contact our Executive Director, Katharine Cahn.