School of Social Work Welcomes Innovations Institute to Improve Child and Family Services Nationwide

With the addition of Innovations Institute, the School expands UConn’s leadership and contributions nationwide

Exterior views of the School of Social Work (SSW) in Hartford.

The School of Social Work (SSW) in Hartford. Sept. 15, 2022. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The UConn School of Social Work (SSW) is pleased to announce the arrival of Innovations Institute. A University institute of the SSW, Innovations Institute extends the School’s commitment to social, racial, and economic justice and the improvement of human well-being nationwide.

To fulfill its mission, the UConn SSW has deep and longstanding partnerships with Connecticut state agencies that serve children, youth, and their families, including the Departments of Social Services, of Children and Families, of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Office of Early Childhood. Through these robust partnerships, the School provides research, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based programs and policies that serve children, youth, and families across the state.

With the addition of Innovations Institute, the School expands UConn’s leadership and contributions nationwide. “The Institute Innovations brings together prominent thought leaders in the area of children’s services with expertise in policy, finance, intervention design and installation, along with translational research and evaluation,” says Dean and Zachs Chair Nina Rovinelli Heller. “It also increases our national footprint and strengthens our commitment to academic-public agency partnerships. These objectives are core missions for the SSW, and for the profession, and align with our strategic goals of increasing research, providing life-transformative experiences, and increasing community engagement.”

Grounded in research and implementation science, the work of Innovations Institute furthers the SSW’s commitment to disseminating impactful knowledge through building research-based and transformative child-, youth- and family-serving systems and services, and developing the capacity of the workforce within these systems. It is fully grant funded and brings a $12 million grant portfolio.

“For over 17 years, Innovations Institute has worked to improve the lives of children, youth, young adults, and their families who utilize public system supports,” says Innovations Institute Executive Director Michelle Zabel. “We are committed to elevating their voices to work towards social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. We are thrilled to be joining the School of Social Work and to be engaging in and contributing to UConn’s collaborative environment.”

Formerly affiliated with the University of Maryland, Innovations Institute is an interdisciplinary, translational research center with expertise that dovetails with that of UConn SSW faculty in child welfare, violence, and trauma, LGBTQIA+ issues, mental health and substance misuse, political participation and social justice, and human rights. With the addition of the Innovations Institute, UConn SSW is poised to significantly strengthen its dedication to addressing some of the most challenging human service issues of our time.

Innovations Institute is currently partnering with 42 state and local governments, provider organizations, and hospitals, as well as with the federal government, to improve supports, systems, services, and outcomes for children, youth, and families. Over the course of their history, the Innovations Institute has collaborated with every state and territory as well as many tribal nations.

The School of Social Work is thrilled to welcome the Innovations Institute team to UConn as the School celebrates its 75th anniversary as a top-ranked leader in graduate social work education and research. They will be transitioned to SSW by December 30. To learn more please visit web pages for the School of Social Work and the Innovations Institute.