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Child Welfare

Addressing multiple areas of child and family well-being, including child maltreatment prevention, adoption, foster care, family preservation, and support.

Child & Family Development

Studies have focused on home visiting, teenagers facing emancipation from foster care, adolescent self-management of diabetes, and early intervention programs such as Head Start.

Health Care

These projects have addressed Medicaid managed care, behavioral health outcomes, chronic disease management, integrated HIV/AIDS care, and medication adherence.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse

These projects have addressed issues such as co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and stigma and discrimination that effects persons with mental health issues.

​James Bell Associates (JBA) ~ State-of-the-art independent program evaluation, applied research, and technical assistance for both public and non-profit organizations

James Bell Associates (JBA) is a leading and respected evaluation and research services firm based in the Washington, D.C. area. Over the last three decades, JBA has established a national reputation for excellence in evaluation and research focusing on innovative health and human services programs run by Federal, State, and local governments, as well as universities, foundations, and private firms. JBA is widely known for its highly customized approaches to planning and conducting independent program evaluation and applied research and for offering practical technical assistance (TA) and training to enhance clients' performance measurement capability.

James Bell Associates delivers objective and useful knowledge to decision-makers and stakeholders on performance and innovation across a broad spectrum of health and human services programs and policy areas, including the following:

  • Child Welfare
  • Child and Family Development
  • Health Care
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Mary Mariani1/19/2016 3:32 PMConference & Speaking; News; Press Release 

​In Washington, D.C. on January 15, 2016,  SSWR (Society for Social Work and Research) held its 20th Annual Conference — “Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future.” As part of the conference, JBA (James Bell Associates) presented in the symposium titled “Supporting Change in Child Welfare: Evaluating the Children’s Bureau’s Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA).” This symposium presented the methodology and findings from a multi-year, mixed-method evaluation of T/TA services provided by 15 federally-supported T/TA providers, the Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Implementation Centers (ICs) and National Resource Centers (NRCs), half of which were operated through Schools of Social Work in national universities.  

The symposium papers highlighted key process and outcome-related findings utilizing integrated data from multiple data sources and instruments. The first paper, What is Technical Assistance? Creating Descriptive Categories and Operational Definitions of “Training and Technical Assistance” for Quantitative Analysis presented by Joanna DeWolfe, M.A., of JBA, provided an overview of the Centers and an in-depth description of the types and characteristics of T/TA provided to child welfare jurisdictions using data from OneNet, a T/TA tracking database developed for the initiative. The second paper, Why One Method Won’t Work: A Mixed-Method, Longitudinal Approach to Evaluating Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) presented by James DeSantis, Ph.D., of JBA and Anita Barbee, Ph.D., a JBA consultant from the University of Louisville School of Social Work, detailed the design of the cross-site evaluation of the Centers and the measures used to evaluate this comprehensive T/TA structure and presented key evaluation findings, including sustained capacity building and systems changes reported by child welfare jurisdictions and contributions of T/TA to these changes. And the third paper, Coping with Complexity: Attempting to Measure and Compare Implementation Processes and Capacity across Sites presented by Megan Fitzgerald, Ph.D., of JBA, described the development and findings from two cross-IC measures: an Implementation Process Rating Measure (IPM) to assess the salience and degree of installation of various drivers by implementation stage and an Implementation Capacity Analysis (ICA) measure to assess jurisdictions’ perceived improvements in key capacity building domains. The symposium explored the complexity and practical challenges of attempting to rigorously evaluate technical assistance, limitations of the evaluation, and lessons learned in hindsight.

Mary Mariani1/4/2016 1:17 PMConference & Speaking; News 

​​​In a recent review of implementation studies in home visiting, only 5 of the 178 reviewed studies (roughly 3 percent) reported on engagement outside of dosage. Close attention to whether and how parents are engaging during actual home visits is important for improving home visiting practice and for preventing program attrition, ultimately bolstering the chances of significant child and family outcomes. These concerns were addressed by Mariel Sparr, Ph.D., research associate at JBA​ at the Zero to Three National Training Institue (NTI) sponsored by the Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. In Dr. Sparr's presentation, The Power of Observation: Recognizing and  Facilitating Parent Engagement during Home Visits, she discussed the new research on parent engagement during home visits, the impact of parent engagement on home visiting program implementation, and the development of new observational instruments to measure and improve parent engagement and home visitor-parent interactions. A primary focus of the presentation included guided observations of video recorded home visits to improve skills in identifying signs of engagement and disengagement, increase knowledge of effective strategies for engaging parents, and promote greater use of effective strategies. The primary focus was on two different observation frameworks: one specifically on parent engagement behaviors within home visits and the other on home visitor-parent interactions using an adapted measure widely used in the healthcare field. The presentation  demonstrated the power of observation for recognizing, reflecting on, and effectively responding to signs of parent engagement and disengagement during home visits.

Mary Mariani12/10/2015 2:14 PMNews; Press Release 

Funded by the Children's Bureau, a recent report, Supporting Change in Child Welfare: An Evaluation of Training and Technical Assistance, presents findings from an evaluation of T/TA delivered by 10 National Child Welfare Resource Centers (NRCs) and 5 Child Welfare Implementation Centers (ICs). Conducted by James Bell Associates and ICF International, this cross-site evaluation advances what is known about the delivery of T/TA to child welfare agencies and courts, especially as they engage in systems and organizational change.

Over 5 years, the ICs and NRCs assisted child welfare agencies (from 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 46 Tribes and Tribal consortia) with identifying issues in their systems, developing solutions, implementing changes, and designing strategies to sustain those changes to improve child welfare practices. The evaluation used a variety of tools and new strategies to measure T/TA and its effectiveness over time. The report highlights key findings related to utilization of T/TA services by States and Tribes, characteristics of NRC and IC services, collaboration of providers in delivering T/TA, satisfaction with and the quality of the T/TA, and perception of outcomes of NRC and IC services.

In addition to the report and executive summary, a series of evaluation briefs and tip sheets summarize the implications and lessons learned about measuring, delivering, and participating in T/TA.

Evaluation Briefs

Tip Sheets for T/TA Providers and Recipients

The materials highlight the lessons learned about T/TA delivery and evaluation. Findings document the importance of organizational leadership, duration and intensity of T/TA, and ability of child welfare systems to sustain organizational change. The report, executive summary, evaluation briefs, and tip sheets are available on the JBA website under Reports and Publications (Child Welfare) and on

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