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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mental Health Services and Policy Program

Illinois Department of Children & Family Services Evaluation

PI: Heather Risser, Ph.D.

MHSPP and DCFS have partnered for over a decade to address the wellbeing of children and families through program evaluation, reporting, and staff training.  Relying upon the Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management (TCOM) model, MHSPP helps DCFS and partnering agencies to utilize the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment to support meaningful use and reliable scoring. This includes certification, remediation and ad hoc training and support to all IDCFS CANS users. For more information on the CANS in Illinois, check out our website at

Current MHSPP/DCFS projects include data collection and ongoing evaluation of several DCFS programs, including Permanency, Integrated Assessment, Intact, Intensive Placement Stabilization, Residential, Child Well-Being, Administrative Case Reviews, Pregnant and Parenting Teens, and Outpatient Therapy programs. MHSPP also provides consultation, evaluation and management of Trauma initiatives such as Trauma Credentialing of all therapy providers.

MHSPP also partners with other institutions to examine longitudinal trajectories of child development and progress over time. Other innovative work includes the Statewide Provider Database and geo-mapping websites, providing easy access to geographically organized information on community resources, and performance based contracting in residential treatment. MHSPP provides both consultation and programmatic support for the Therapeutic Residential Performance Management Initiative (TRPMI), a pilot program aiming to improve the monitoring of residential and group home contracts and promote therapeutic residential program effectiveness.