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External Research Request Process A Guide for Researchers Updated Research and Evaluation Section Business Information Systems Division Department of Children.

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Presentation on theme: "External Research Request Process A Guide for Researchers Updated Research and Evaluation Section Business Information Systems Division Department of Children."— Presentation transcript:

1 External Research Request Process A Guide for Researchers Updated Research and Evaluation Section Business Information Systems Division Department of Children and Family Services County of Los Angeles July 6, 2009

2 2 This presentation summarizes DCFS Research and Evaluation Section policies, processes, and procedures for external research requests. Details are documented and available for review.

3 3 DCFS Research and Evaluation Section Expand the capabilities of DCFS to plan and conduct original research projects and program evaluations. Support a continuing infusion of evidence-based practices into DCFS. Manage the DCFS external and internal research request processes.

4 4 Our Staff Christopher Jarosz, Ph.D., has graduate training in psychology, physiology, and computer science. He has planned and conducted behavioral, community health, and organizational research. Chris teaches college courses in the life sciences; previously he taught courses in psychology. Ming H. Lee, M.P.H., has training in biology and graduate training in public health and biostatistics. Ming has planned and conducted studies in perinatal health indicators and their influences on birth outcomes. Tran Ly, Ph.D., has graduate training in psychology, education, and child development. She has planned and conducted studies involving families of children with various disabilities. Tran taught college courses in educational and abnormal psychology, and child and adolescent development.

5 5 DCFS External Research Mission Invite and facilitate research relevant to the field of child welfare, and of potential benefit to DCFS’s children and families and County and DCFS long-term goals. Identify and solicit research on subjects of interest to DCFS that lead to better understanding of the children and families we serve and new or improved policies in reaching desired outcomes. Disseminate research in the field of child abuse and neglect including external and internal research on the children and families we serve. The Research and Evaluation Section will post the top DCFS research needs on its website to help guide researchers on potential areas of inquiry. We will fast-track related research and CWS/CMS data requests when it is feasible.

6 6 External research using DCFS data, resources, or staff must meet at least one of four requirements: External Research Requirements 1.Be relevant to the field of child welfare. 2.Benefit DCFS’s children and families by developing an improved understanding of the factors contributing to the abuse and neglect of children. 3.Determine the effectiveness of DCFS policies, programs, systems, and service delivery models in serving abused and neglected children and their families. 4.Be consistent with long-term goals of the County of Los Angeles and DCFS.

7 7 Ethical Principles The main policy governing research identified, facilitated, or conducted by the DCFS Research and Evaluation Section is the protection and safety of children by safeguarding: –Confidentiality of private information (Welfare and Institutions Code [WIC], Section and Chapter of the California Department of Social Services Policies and Procedures Manual). –Protection of human subjects (Federal Register, Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects; Notices and Rules, Volume 56, Number 117, Appendix III). The ethical principles established in the Belmont Report will guide all research involving human subjects: –Respect for persons—includes informed consent –Beneficence—potential risks and benefits to subjects –Justice—fairness in the selection of research subjects

8 8 Ethical Principles (continued) Requests to conduct research in which potential risks exist to minors, clients who were minors at the time DCFS provided services, or other vulnerable clients will not be approved.

9 9 Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects The Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA). CPHS review may be required if the research involves personally- identifiable data from CWS/CMS and other state systems extending beyond Los Angeles County. Research involving only data from Los Angeles County must be reviewed and approved by the IRB at the researcher’s institution. For more information about CPHS and its role, see the website at:

10 10 External Research Request Process Researcher contacts the DCFS Research and Evaluation Section. Researcher submits a complete research request package to the Research and Evaluation Section. Research and Evaluation Section conducts a review of the research request package. Research and Evaluation Section sends a letter to the Researcher’s IRB to trigger the review process. Researcher’s IRB approves the proposed research; the Research and Evaluation Section is notified. DCFS sends the project approval letter to the Researcher (interim approval if Juvenile Court review is required). Researcher submits a petition to the Juvenile Court. Court approval is required for: 1.Review of open or closed case files 2.Individual CWS/CMS case records 3.Interviews of children or families 4.Observations or testing of children 5.Other types of sensitive information The Juvenile Court issues a court order to the Researcher and a copy to DCFS if the petition is approved. DCFS sends the project approval letter to the Researcher Involvement: Blue—DCFS; Orange—IRB; Green—Juvenile Court

11 11 Time Requirements Three review processes, each with its own time requirements, can occur during the proposal review: DCFS, IRB, and Juvenile Court. The DCFS approval process takes up to 45 calendar days once the complete research request package is received by the Research and Evaluation Section. The researcher meets with the Research and Evaluation Section to discuss the data requirements and establish a proposed delivery schedule that can be accommodated within the section’s workload. The IRB review schedule is determined by the researcher’s institu- tion.

12 12 Time Requirements (continued) In addition to the Juvenile Court’s own review requirements, its time frame for the process is determined by seeking external comments. For the court approval process, pursuant to Local Rule 17.2(d), any objections from DCFS or County Counsel and other community stakeholders must be received by the Juvenile Court within 20 calendar days from the date that the Court provided notice of the petition. The time frame for review comments is 15 calendar days when the notice is sent via fax or .

13 13 Components of the Research Request Package Cover Letter and Research Proposal Research Request Form Agreements for External Research Projects IRB Application to Involve Human Subjects Letters of Support and Reference Draft of Juvenile Court Petition (if applicable)

14 14 Process Detail (maps to the process flow)

15 15 Regardless of past or present relationships with DCFS and other County of Los Angeles departments and entities, all prospective researchers are expected to follow the policies and processes outlined in this guide.

16 16 Please contact the Research and Evaluation Section as soon as possible in your planning process. We can, for example, help ascertain the quality and availability of existing data, and help with navigational advice within the DCFS organization. We are also available for conducting presentations on the research request process to institutions. 1—Initial Contact The Research and Evaluation Section’s focus is on partnership and collaboration in meeting the needs of external researchers and DCFS.

17 17 Some studies may involve the interviewing of CSWs and other DCFS staff. The researcher must contact the DCFS Regional Administrator and Union representatives to discuss the interview content, schedule, and time requirements. Workarounds may need to be developed, such as group interviews at lunchtime to accommodate staff workloads. DCFS Staff Interviews

18 18 Timelines for DCFS, IRB, and the Juvenile Court approvals must be considered when developing the research plan and proposed start date. Mail the complete research request package to the DCFS Research and Evaluation Section (mailing address on the last slide). We will or mail a receipt to the researcher once the research request package has been received and verified for completeness. 2—Research Request Package

19 19 The DCFS bureaus involved in the proposed research, with support of the Research and Evaluation Section, will determine the appropri- ateness of the project. We may consult other researchers, subject matter experts, and written materials on the soundness of the methodology, data integrity, and related matters in developing recommendations for DCFS management. We will consult with other entities such as County Counsel when needed, and with data experts to confirm the availability and quality of data. 3—DCFS Review

20 20 The Research and Evaluation Section will mail a letter to the IRB once DCFS gives its initial approval for the project. The researcher’s institution agrees to follow Federal regulations through written assurances with the U.S. Office of Protection from Research Risks (OPRR) of the Department of Health and Human Services. The researcher will obtain additional IRB approval for research projects extending beyond the original project time scope—re- approvals may be audited by DCFS. 4 and 5—IRB Process

21 21 If Juvenile Court approval is not required: The Research and Evaluation Section will contact the researcher by telephone or once the project is approved. The Section will mail a letter of approval to the researcher authorizing the project to proceed. Once DCFS approval is received the researcher will arrange for staff interviews when specified in the research design—this process will involve contacting the Regional Administrators and Union representa- tives. 6—DCFS Approval

22 22 Most research requests have been approved—DCFS is supportive of external partnerships to foster research on the welfare of children. Research requests have been be denied when the research would violate client or staff confidentiality, or when it would require an inordinate amount of DCFS staff time that would affect normal work duties. The DCFS Director has the final DCFS approval authority over all research requests involving DCFS data, resources, and staff. The Juvenile Court may deny a proposed research project if it could expose children and family to risk or harm. Unapproved Research Requests Please involve the Research and Evaluation Section early in your planning process to gain a sense of the feasibility of conducting the research project.

23 23 Approval of the Juvenile Court is required for all research requests involving: –Review of closed or open case files –Individual CWS/CMS case records –Interviews of children or families –Observations or testing of children –Other sensitive information Court approval for these types of requests is required for DCFS employees conducting research for their education (e.g., thesis or dissertation). Forms for the court petition are available from the Juvenile Court (see the end of this presentation for contact information). 7 and 8—Court Approval

24 24 The researcher submits the petition directly to the court, and copies the Research and Evaluation Section—the researcher will gather the DCFS signatures for the court petition. The Juvenile Court may request input from the Research and Eval- uation Section, other county entities, and community stakeholders. It is possible that a research petition would be approved despite a DCFS objection. The Juvenile Court will respond directly to the petitioner, and copy the DCFS Research and Evaluation Section and community stakeholders. 7 and 8—Court Approval (continued)

25 25 If Juvenile Court review and approval is required: DCFS will send a project approval letter to the researcher after a copy of the court order is received. The researcher agrees to follow the requirements of the IRB, DCFS agreement and supplemental agreements, and the court order. 9—DCFS Approval

26 26 The researcher agrees to send the DCFS Research and Evaluation Section copies of the final work products including reports and publications for the DCFS files. We request these final work products be mailed to DCFS Research and Evaluation Section within 180 days of project completion. Pursuant to the standard court order, when court approval for the research is required, the researcher must also send a copy of the final products to the Juvenile Court. The researcher agrees to conduct a briefing on the research findings if requested by DCFS. Work Products

27 27 Scope Changes Project approval is given only for the scope of work defined in the research plan and the IRB application. Proposed changes to the project scope (such as methods, samples, evaluation instruments, and time schedule) must be reviewed and approved by DCFS and the IRB. For research involving a court order, the researcher must notify the Juvenile Court once the proposed changes are reviewed and accepted. The Juvenile Court will determine if the researcher needs to submit a new or updated court petition.

28 28 Research Request Content

29 29 Research Request Content The cover letter introduces the researchers and describes how the proposed research will benefit the field of child welfare and DCFS. The research proposal to DCFS includes the components described on a subsequent page—all components must be included, and in the sequence listed. External Research Request form—available from the DCFS Research and Evaluation website. General Agreement and Reporting Agreement forms—available from the DCFS Research and Evaluation website.

30 30 Research Request Content (continued) Copy of IRB application to Involve Human Subjects in Research. Letters of support and reference—it is the researcher’s responsibility to gather these letters. Draft copy of the Juvenile Court petition (for research requiring court approval).

31 31 Research Proposal 1.Research purpose and research hypotheses 2.Literature review summary 3.Expected end products (article, report, or other publications) 4.Research plan and methodologies 5.Subject population 6.Sampling methods and sample sizes 7.How confidentiality will be protected 8.Assessment of potential benefits 9.Assessment of potential risks and how they will be minimized 10.Tests to be administered (if applicable) 11.Questionnaires or interview schedules (if applicable) 12.Sample of the informed consent form (if applicable) 13.Schedule of major milestones including for all end products 14.Curriculum vitae of principal investigators

32 32 Court Contact Information Jennifer T. Wolbransky, Esq. Office of the Presiding Judge Edelman Children's Court 201 Centre Plaza Drive, Suite 3 Monterey Park, California Fax:

33 33 DCFS Contact Information Christopher J. Jarosz, Ph.D. Chief Research Analyst Research and Evaluation Section Business Information Systems Division Department of Children and Family Services County of Los Angeles 425 Shatto Place, Room 401 Los Angeles, California Telephone:


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