Research & Evaluation
Initiatives by The Consultation Center at Yale
The Child Development & Epidemiological Research Area uses research and evaluation methods to examine the ways in which risk and protective processes at the child, family, and systems levels influence developmental and other related outcomes for child and adolescent populations. A related aim of our work is to inform the development of more effective prevention and intervention services and supports to improve outcomes for children and families.
A primary focus of the area's work is on children and families exposed to adversity with a particular emphasis on those involved in child-serving systems (e.g., child welfare and children's behavioral health systems). This work involves close collaboration and consultation efforts with state agencies and community providers to frame relevant research and evaluation questions and design appropriate methods for collecting the necessary data with which to answer such questions.
A second area of research focuses on understanding risks of adolescent substance use and associated behaviors (e.g., antisocial or delinquent behavior, risky sexual activity). This area of research involves analysis of a range of regional, state, and national datasets to examine patterns of adolescent risk behavior and their relation to a range of social-ecological risk and protective factors at the individual, family, peer, school, and community level.
Finally, our work incorporates a range of quantitative data analytic methods to examine risk and protective processes associated with developmental processes and behavioral outcomes. Dr. Connell teaches the seminar on Data Analytic Methods in Prevention and Community Research for the Division of Prevention and Community Research Postdoctoral Training Program in Substance Abuse Prevention Research.
Examples of research and evaluation activities within the area are below. In addition, Dr. Connell and postdoctoral fellows working in the area are involved in a range of smaller research studies that address developmental and behavioral outcomes for children and adolescents in such areas as substance use and abuse, risky sexual behavior, and antisocial or delinquent activities. These studies frequently involve secondary analysis of existing data sets (e.g., AddHealth, NSCAW, etc.).
- Our work in the Child Well-Being and Education Research area focuses on how the interaction of social contexts and individual factors influence the behavioral functioning, development, and academic outcomes of children and youth. This program of research has two main strands.
Primary scholarly interests include community-based research to promote resilience and/or prevent adolescent substance use, the integration of cultural approaches into practice, research, and policy, the evaluation of service systems, and examining the processes and impact of transdisciplinary team science. This research is collaborative and often carried out in partnership with community-based organizations, state and municipal agencies, colleagues, and other community stakeholders. This work is conceptualized from a social justice perspective, examines multiple levels (such as the individual, the family, peers, the school, the neighborhood or community, and the broader culture), and takes place in various community contexts that involve mostly at risk, traumatized, or clinical populations. Examples of some of these population groups are: bereaved young adults; "sandwiched generation" women caregivers; children of mothers with serious mental illness; maltreated children or children in foster care; urban, low-income adolescents; and persons in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Some of the research involves randomized controlled trials and some involves evaluations of programs or services carried out by public agencies or community-based organizations. In the evaluation research, the operations and effectiveness of programs and services designed for vulnerable populations is examined. To the extent possible, the research is intended to inform professional practice, the design of new programs, the transformation of settings and communities, or the development of data-driven and effective policy. Other research interests include philosophy of science, community research methodology, and program evaluation. In this work, we have proposed principles for conducting research in community settings, developed innovative approaches to assess community-based phenomena, helped define the emerging field of community science, and examined the characteristics of transdisciplinary research, including transdisciplinary team science.
Our program of research is centered on individual- and system-level factors that affect the mental and physical health of women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV). At the individual level, we conduct risk and protective factor research with a focus on applying micro-longitudinal designs such as experience sampling methods and research that informs the development of interventions to be implemented in community settings. Specifically, we examine: (1) precursors, correlates, and outcomes of women's victimization and their use of aggression in intimate relationships, and (2) the co-occurrence of IPV, posttraumatic stress, substance use, and sexual risk with specific attention to daily processes (i.e., how experiences and behaviors unfold on a daily basis in their natural environment).
At the system-level, our research focuses on understanding the capacity of systems (e.g., criminal justice system and HIV service system) to meet the unique needs of women who experience IPV and how these systems influence the well-being of women. For example, a current study examines the extent to which criminal orders of protection reduce domestic violence and influence the daily lives of women experiencing IPV, their offenders’ behavior, and their children’s well-being.
In addition to conducting federally-funded research, we are a statewide leader in the delivery of violence prevention services to adult aggressors of domestic violence. Our staff develops and implements psycho-educational groups for men and women to address domestic violence, and as appropriate, anger management. Further, we consult to programs and service systems regarding meeting the unique needs of populations affected by domestic violence.
The Research, Policy, and Program on Male Development broadly focuses on the factors that support and undermine the “healthy” involvement of men and boys in relationship, family, and community life. This work has a special emphasis on men and communities of color, who disproportionately experience negative health outcomes. Research and evaluation activities are focused in the areas of men’s preventive health; father involvement and paternal contributions to positive maternal, child, and family outcomes; supporting successful community reintegration following incarceration; and community mental health and its impact on academic and social outcomes.
Within our area, evaluation and research activities use a community informed approach. In these contexts, questions posed, programs implemented and activities evaluated are developed in consultation with relevant community members, service providers and State representatives. Research and evaluation activities use a mixed methods approach that complement and add meaningful insights into the phenomenon of interest.
- Evaluations conducted in collaboration with faculty and staff combine scientific rigor with the practical realities of implementing feasible evaluations that are ultimately responsive to local needs. As a result, evaluations are consistently useful; they inform practice, program planning and management, and policy development. Center staff and faculty provide trainings and technical assistance to community-based organizations with the goal of enhancing the evaluation capacity of these organizations. In addition to designing evaluations that yield data that is useful in understanding the processes and outcomes of a given project or organization, we strive to develop evaluation infrastructures that are sustainable beyond our tenure so that programs and organizations can continue to utilize data to inform their program and policy planning.