The Institute for Families (IFF) at Rutgers School of Social Work advances the professional practices and knowledge base of individuals and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and families. As the School’s largest center, IFF delivers a $35 million portfolio of contracts delivering training, technical assistance, and applied research and evaluation services. IFF works to: 

  • Advance New Jersey’s child welfare and human service systems through workforce partnerships that lead to more equitable, improved childhood experiences;
  • educate child and family-serving professionals through innovative learning experiences that build evidence-based practices in their everyday work with youth and their caregivers; and
  • demonstrate practices that impact and improve childhood outcomes through applied research and evaluation methods.

Read on for updates on just some of the many recent activities taking place within IFF.


  • Youth Development: The Price Family Fellows and Camden Fellows programs returned from the winter break to celebrate the graduation of three fellows. The Camden Fellows welcomed two new students to the program in January. Activities planned for the spring semester include team building exercises, mind, body, and spirit wellness workshops, career planning workshops, cooking workshops, and a professional networking event.
  • Research & Evaluation:
    • The New Jersey Child Welfare Data Hub website completed a major update that upgraded the website using Drupal 9/Pantheon content management and hosting platform. Site expansions also now provide the public with four new NJDCF Children’s System of Care (CSOC) reports that indicate measures of care provided for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and care for behavioral health or substance use.
    • Language Access Programming: The team completed the first major milestone within the needs assessment by facilitating a “Data Party” for the NJDHS Office of New Americans. This well-received event presented the project sponsor with data on language access findings and needs among newly immigrated and limited English speaking families from across the state. It engaged leaders from NJDHS and the Office of New Americans in a discussion offering insight and recommendations revealed by the data. Work continues to finalize a comprehensive needs assessment report and subsequent collaboration with a subject matter expert to complete a detailed language access plan for the NJ Department of Human Services – Division of Family Development. This plan will be a model in the State of New Jersey for increasing access to services and equitable practices for serving newly immigrated families and refugees in New Jersey.
  • Grow NJ Kids Training Services:
    • The launch of the Business Support and Training Series this month included small group coaching and training sessions aimed at increasing business practices among child care professionals and programs. Topics included titles such as "Taxes for Child Care Providers," "Cash Flow for Child Care," "Calculating Profit and Loss for Child Care Providers," "Managing by Numbers: A Basic Guide to Child Care Provider Business Accounting." The successful launch was due to the combined efforts of the GNJKTS & L&D team.
    • The GNJKTS Operations Team - Matthew Mayo, Kelly Fernandes, Michele Gregorio, Jennifer Mesa - moderate each Grow NJ Kids training session to support trainers and participants and continue to receive ongoing positive feedback. One highlighted example: “Matthew was juggling late arrivals and rescheduling them for another training while supporting what I was saying. I always appreciate that he is there to deal with all background issues like tech. and lateness. I also appreciate that he texts me on the break to see how I'm feeling about the training. I know that he really wants to know if things seem to be going well on my end. He supports the attendees and the trainers with humor and warmth.”


  • Christine Doman-Wells was welcomed to the team as a full-time CQI Supervisor for NJCSI. Christine is a master trainer and has been a Class 8 trainer, designer, and subject matter expert for the Institute for Families since 2007. Christine is a New Jersey licensed social worker with a professional focus on improving, enhancing, and developing the work of child, family, and community-serving agencies. In this capacity, she has spent fourteen years researching best practices, designing curriculum, and providing training to all levels of professionals working within the child welfare system, as well as with those organizations and individuals who work in collaboration with child welfare. In her new role, Christine will be overseeing per diem team members for NJCSI and supporting efforts to provide quality training and education. She works out of the Cherry Hill office and reports to Danielle Francesconi.