Where do PSU's community partners go for help in thinking about questions like these: What would it take to build a coordinated system of care in Oregon's children's mental health system? What kinds of services and housing programs help improve the health and wellbeing of homeless children and their families? Are our investments in early childhood education programs delivering best practices to prepare young children to succeed at home and in school?
Often they go to the Regional Research Institute in Human Services (RRI) at the School of Social Work, where Professor Diane Yatchmenoff is Assistant Director.
Yatchmenoff, who earned her PhD from PSU, is one of the faculty members at RRI who provides essential research and evaluation services for local organizations and agencies that serve children and families. The questions she gets asked are not easy to answer.
One of her current projects involves collaboration between the schools, child welfare, and children's mental health. Yatchmenoff leads the evaluation of this $9 million, 6-year project funded by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to improve mental health service delivery for children ages 0-8 in Multnomah County. Included is a longitudinal study of children and families served by the mental health system and an evaluation of systems change at the local level. The goal is to transform mental health care for all young children at risk for serious emotional disorders.
Yatchmenoff's other work includes a recently completed evaluation of the Portland Children's Investment Fund. She and her coworkers found that in a sample of the early childhood programs funded by CHIF, more than 80% of the children served are meeting key milestones in growth and development and that services were in place to address the needs of children at risk for developmental delay. Evaluations like this one will help dictate where future private and public investments are made to make a difference in children's lives. You can read the full report online at: http://www.childrensinvestmentfund.org/reports/Reports_Full_Report_110305.pdf
Yatchmenoff teaches Quantitative Research Methods to the next generation of researchers in the School of Social Work PhD program.
Yatchmenoff is just one of the University's leading researchers at the Regional Research Institute (RRI). The RRI is awarded in $7-8 million in research grants annually, almost 22% of the funded research done on PSU's campus. The RRI's goal is to improve the manner in which social services and service delivery systems are designed, managed and evaluated.