Institute for Families
Founded July 1, 2007, the mission of the Institute for Families (IFF), at the Rutgers School of Social Work, is to support and strengthen individuals, families, and communities by building the capacity of human service professionals and organizations. Consistent with the University's broad mission, the Institute provides a focal point for training, research, and service activities concerned with strengthening families. We accomplish this by:
- Increasing the capacity of human service professionals and organizations to meet best practice standards and respond to the ever changing needs of their communities,
- Marshalling the resources of Rutgers to create a more humane, just, and equitable society,
- Disseminating knowledge in NJ and beyond that leads to greater understanding of social issues, and
- Developing leadership in interdisciplinary policy, research, and professional development on families, communities, and organizations.
Through professional development and training, applied research and technical assistance, IFF disseminates knowledge that leads to greater understanding of social problems, enhanced service design and delivery, and ultimately, improved service outcomes. IFF draws upon multidisciplinary resources to develop innovative and proactive strategies that address social issues in New Jersey and the global community.
The continuing education and professional development programs at IFF focus on developing and implementing workshops for professionals in various human services fields who want to update their skills, examine new theories and techniques, assess old problems in new ways, and respond to the demands of current social needs. Applied research, program evaluation and technical assistance activities focus on applying scientifically-rigorous methods of inquiry to understand social problems, identify needs, ensure the quality of services, examine the effectiveness of social service programs, manage change, and develop new interventions.
Located in New Brunswick with several satellite offices throughout the State, IFF includes more than 80 staff, many with advanced degrees, and a cadre of hundreds of subject-matter experts representing an array of human services fields and related disciplines. IFF exemplifies the land-grant mission of Rutgers University by providing continuing education and professional development programs, program evaluation, applied research services, and technical assistance to the human services community in New Jersey and beyond. The University setting is key to providing a unique environment that brings together academic, professional, and technical experts for the public good.
The array of IFF activities demonstrates its capacity to manage projects, meet multiple deadlines, and collaborate effectively with partnering agencies. IFF manages nearly 40 grants, contracts, and programs, valued at more than $18 million annually. Funding sources include local, nonprofit service providers, and county, state, and federal governmental agencies.
Theresa McCutcheon, MSW
Our mission is to support and strengthen families and communities by increasing the capacity of human service professionals and organizations. We achieve this through a three-pronged approach that mirrors and supports the University’s mission of instruction, research, and public service:
- Training, technical assistance and professional development
- Applied research and evaluation
- Direct service and advocacy
IFF harnesses the extensive resources of Rutgers to create a more humane, just, and equitable society. Spread out across multiple locations in New Jersey, our four offices include the:
- Office of Child Welfare Workforce Advancement
- Office of Research and Evaluation
- Office of Human Services Training and Educational Programs
- Office of Youth Empowerment
We support and strengthen child welfare and other human service professionals and organizations to meet best practice standards and effectively and creatively respond to the ever-changing needs of vulnerable children, youth, families, and communities. We develop and disseminate knowledge and information throughout New Jersey and beyond that leads to a greater understanding of a range of social issues, and implementation of capacity-building strategies and systems improvements to better address them.
We invite and enjoy strong partnerships and professional collaborations throughout the human service community, including the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Department of Education, and various other community, state, and national organizations, foundations, and professional networks.
When the School of Social Work was created by an act of the New Jersey State Legislature, the law also provided mandates for programs to include research and part-time professional instruction. The three statues are outlined below:
- 18A:65-56. The Corporation shall maintain in the university a graduate school of social work to be known as the graduate school of social work.
- 18A:65-57. The school of social work shall offer courses of instruction in accordance with professional standards in the field of social work for persons preparing to enter this profession. It shall also provide part-time instruction for the benefit of persons already employed as social workers. Its instruction shall be conducted with particular reference to the training of personnel for the public and private social agencies located within the state of New Jersey and serving the people of this state.
- 18A:65-59. The school of social work shall establish programs of research in the field of social work to aid in carrying on its program of instruction and to improve the standards of social service in New Jersey.
With these legislative mandates, the first related organization created at Rutgers University was the Bureau of Community Services. In a January 25, 1965 letter to Dr. Mason W. Gross, President of the University, Dr. Ernest E. McMahon, Dean of the University Extension Division, stated that "every indication points to the fact that Rutgers will be called upon to provide a wider range of educational services than ever before in its history. Communities in New Jersey, in particular, will have great need for such services because they must meet the impact of enormous urban change."
In the early 1970s, the Bureau of Community Services changed its name to the Center for Community Education.
In 1993 the Center adopted its new name, the Center for Social and Community Development. Faculty and staff felt that this name better described the focus of the Center which was to combine the community development process with social problem solving by increasing citizen participation and engaging all sectors of a community in the development of solutions to the targeted population. A vital role played by the Center was the linking of University resources with organizations that promote the early identification and eradication of pressing social issues.
In 2005, the Center became independent of the School of Social Work under its new name, the Center for Children and Families. The Center continued many of the Programs previously held under the Center for Social and Community Development while adding new programs.
In 2006, under new administration at the School of Social Work, the Center was brought back under the auspices of the School and was given the interim title of Office of Professional Development and Research. Under this new office, additional programs were founded.
In July of 2007, the Institute for Families was officially created under Dean Richard L. Edwards of the School of Social Work. Dr. Allison Blake was hired as IFF's first Director. At this time three faculty-led research centers, The Center on Violence against Women and Children, the Center for International Social Work, and the Center for Gambling Studies were created under the Institute. All programs and services under the Office of Professional Development and Research were also retained in the new Institute. In the following year, a fourth faculty-led entity was added, the Center for Nonprofit Management and Governance.
In 2010, Dr. Allison Blake was appointed Commissioner of the NJ Department of Children and Families by Governor Chris Christie. With Dr. Blake's departure, the four faculty-led research centers were made independent of IFF.
In 2011, executive director Andy Germak was hired to replace Dr. Blake. Under Mr. Germak's leadership, IFF expanded into social entrepreneurship projects and developed international training programs in India and China.
In 2014, Sara Munson was appointed executive director by Dean Cathryn Potter. The Office of Continuing Education and international projects were restructured into the School of Social Work so that IFF could more closely concentrate on its specialization with child welfare and family-centered programs. At present, the Institute for Families employs over 60 employees, 7 faculty members, 20 part time employees, 3 PhD students, and several hundred external consultants.
The mission of the Institute for Families (IFF), at the Rutgers School of Social Work, is to support and strengthen individuals, families, and communities by building the capacity of human service professionals and organizations.
The Institute for Families will become a nationally recognized entity where our research and education practices will improve the professional knowledge base and policy implementation arenas of the social service field, thus enhancing the lives of individuals, families, and communities throughout the world.
At IFF, we value each other and those we serve. We will:
- Provide high quality service to our clients while promoting strong external partnerships;
- Uphold the highest standards of integrity and excellence; and
- Foster innovative thinking and creativity in our work.
These broad goals are intended to guide us in our future work and represent the basis for capacity building at the Institute for Families.
- Increase the capacity of social workers and social service agencies and organizations to meet best practice standards and respond to the ever changing needs of their communities.
- Marshal the resources of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to create a more human, just, and equitable society.
- In NJ and abroad, disseminate knowledge that leads to greater understanding of social problems.
- Develop and attract leaders in interdisciplinary policy, research, and professional development on family, community, and organizational issues.
The work that we do is inspired by three main themes that are incorporated into our work across individual units.
Trauma Informed Care and Practice is a strengths-based framework grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
Evidence-based practice is the integration of clinical expertise/expert opinion, external scientific evidence, and client/patient/caregiver values to provide high-quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the individuals we serve.
A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. Elements that make this up include the ability to see the big picture, a commitment to lifelong learning, openness, shared visions, and team learning.
The Institute for Families has a strong network of relationships with members of the human service community. It is through this strong collaboration that IFF continues the mission of strengthening families by building the capacity of human service professionals and organizations.
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New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts
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New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault
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New Jersey Crime Victim's Law Center
New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Division of Youth and Family Services
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New Jersey Division of Family Development
New Jersey Division on Women
New Jersey Foster and Adoptive Family Services
New Jersey Office of Child Advocate
New Jersey Office of Child Support Services
New Jersey Office of the Public Defender
New Jersey Office of Victim Witness Advocacy
New Jersey Society for Health Care Consumer Advocacy
Paterson Housing Authority
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Prevent Child Abuse of New Jersey
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United Way of Greater Union County
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Overcoming Obstacles Final Report 2021
GROW NJ KIDS Half Year Report 1 2018
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NJ Child Welfare Training Partnership Half Year Final Report FY18
NJ Child Welfare Training Partnership Half Year Report 1 FY19
NJ Child Welfare Training Partnership FY2015 Evaluation
New Jersey Rural Health Needs Assessment 2015
The Sandy Child & Family Health Study: Place Report
The Sandy Child & Family Health Study: Person Report
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