Putting Theory in Action

Investing in Families two-part webinar series breaks down emerging research, explores economic interventions, and spotlights leaders in the field that are challenging traditional practices and finding innovative methods for investing in families and producing better outcomes.

Join us as we continue unlearning child welfare in this two-part webinar series with Institute co-hosts Matt Anderson and Jaquia Wilson.

Episode 1

The Economics of Family Well-Being

Families are struggling, and have been for a long time—are we doing enough to help? More conversations than ever before are taking place about the state of families in the U.S. and the opportunities to make new investments that strengthen families. Discover what emerging research and thinking are telling us about how we can make targeted investments to improve outcomes for children and families.

Click here for on-demand access 

Episode 1 Resources
Empathy and Social Justice: The Power of Proximity in Improvement Science

Carnegie Commons Blog→

This article by Leandra Fernandez captures Bryan Stevenson’s remarks at the 2016 Carnegie Summit. “You cannot be an effective problem-solver from a distance. There are details and nuances to problems that you will miss unless you are close enough to observe those details,” says Bryan.

Family and Child Well-being System: Economic & Concrete Supports as a Core Component

Economic Supports Presentation→

This PDF slide deck from Clare Anderson shares financial data she presented on the Introduction Series to The Unlearning of Child Welfare.

Child Welfare Financing SFY 2018: A survey of federal, state, and local expenditures

Child Trends Report on Prevention Spending→

This report, authored by Kristina Rosinsky, Sarah Catherine Williams, Megan Fischer, and Maggie Haas, is a survey of federal, state, and local expenditures for Child Welfare in 2018.

Episode 2

Bold Actions for Big Change

Industry disruptors are moving from conversation to action, making innovative investments in communities to strengthen families. Hear how leaders in the field are disrupting the status quo—with bold actions and prevention-based approaches—to create practical and impactful change.

Click here for on-demand access 

Episode 2 Resources
Do place-based programs, such as Family Resource Centers, reduce risk of child maltreatment and entry into foster care?

Family Resource Centers–Casey Family Programs→

Straightforward and quick article on family resource centers (FRC).

What is a Family Resource Center?

Explore the goals and efforts of FRCs→

Article from National Family Support Network on FRC’s.

Moms Groups and Movie Nights: Can a New Approach to Child Welfare Win Families’ Trust?

The New School: Center for New York City Affairs→

Article that shows the “real” life impact of a FRC in the lives of mothers in New York.

Realizing the Promise of Family First

A Systematic Approach to Child Welfare Systems Transformation→

Article that shows what Brenda Donald is doing in Washington, DC. Written by Natalie Craver, Katie Rollins, and Clare Anderson.

Bring more voices to the conversation

Download the post-webinar conversation guide to facilitate group discussions about taking action steps toward investing in families. The pre-read, “Deconstructing the Bird Cage: How Social Entrepreneurs are Catalyzing Systems Change,” will offer meaningful context to the conversations with your network of changemakers.

Meet the Panelists

Our inspiring guests with lived expertise →

Shrounda Selivanoff

Director of Public Policy, Children’s Home Society of Washington

Panelist, Episode 1

Selivanoff is a passionate advocate for child welfare involved families driven by her own experience in child welfare system navigation. She brings a birth parent’s perspective to inform policy, practice, and system reform and is dedicated to transforming the system to serve families’ needs equitably.

Clare Anderson

Senior Policy Fellow, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Panelist, Episode 1

Anderson’s work focuses on using research, policy, and fiscal levers to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, and families, and the systems serving them. She engages state child welfare agencies, communities, stakeholders, and constituents in large-scale system change efforts.

Sixto Cancel

CEO, Think of Us

Panelist, Episode 1

Cancel is the Founder and CEO of Think of Us (TOU), an Action Tank driving systematic change in child welfare. Through focused projects and sweeping initiatives, TOU drives structural changes in child welfare policy and practice. Cancel was named as Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs and is on the 2021 Forbes Under30 Lister Board. Cancel has served as a Young Fellow at Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative since 2010 where he has played a key role in the initiative’s work of extending foster care permanency for older youth.

Katie Albright

CEO, Safe & Sound

Panelist, Episode 2

Albright, JD is an attorney and children’s advocate with more than 25 years of legal and nonprofit experience. She joined Safe & Sound 14 years ago, when it was called San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, serving as its CEO and President. Expanding its reach and impact under her leadership, the organization co-founded the Children’s Advocacy Center of San Francisco, The Center for Youth Wellness, and Partners in Prevention, and has created strong partnerships in Marin and Sonoma County, as well as other counties throughout the Bay Area and California. 

Brenda Donald

Director, DC Child and Family Services

Panelist, Episode 2

Donald returned to the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) as director in January 2017 after serving as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. From January 2012 to December 2015 Donald served as director of CFSA and early in her tenure established the Four Pillars, a strategic agenda that has focused the District’s child welfare system on improving outcomes for children, youth, and families. Under her leadership CSFA has more effectively addressed reports of child abuse/neglect, increased support for families, and reduced the number of District children in foster care from nearly 1,800 in FY12 to approximately 800 children today. 

Preston Gray

Senior Family Leader, Smart from the Start

Panelist, Episode 2

Gray is a hardworking husband and father of four amazing children. Gray grew up in a large family in SE Washington, D.C., a neighborhood that is often underserved. Even though he is not the oldest, he did what he could to help support his mom and siblings. Gray was always full of potential, but not often afforded the opportunities to actualize it. That is, until he joined Smart from the Start. Over six years ago, Gray joined Smart’s LEAP, Fatherhood Program, and Professional Development and Enrichment Program, where he was able to gain the skills and experiences, he needed to become a better father, man, and community advocate.

Cherie Craft

Founder/CEO and Executive Director, Smart from the Start

Panelist, Episode 2

Smart from the Start, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to promote the physical, mental and developmental health of young children while empowering families living in the underserved communities of Boston and Washington, D.C. Craft studied Sociology and Counseling as an undergrad and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. Having grown up in an inner-city housing development, and raising five kids of her own, Craft possesses a passionate commitment to working tirelessly, to better the lives of under-served children and families.

Jaquia Wilson

Strategy Coordinator, Institute for Family


Wilson is an advocate for youth who have been in the child welfare system. She began vocalizing youth rights at age 15 when she was placed in congregate care. As an alumna of the child welfare system, Jaquia now supports youth in care as the Community Engagement Coordinator for CHSNC’s SaySo program. Jaquia’s passion from a young age has ignited over the years, and her background in advocacy and storytelling has led her to Institute for Family.

Matt Anderson

Director, Institute for Family


Anderson serves as the Vice President of Programs and Business Development for CHSNC and Director for Institute for Family. His career has focused on youth engagement, child welfare practice, organizational leadership, public policy and media as a catalyst for change. Anderson helped to establish Institute for Family because he sees a clear need for partnering with families to image and create a new approach that strengthens families and reduces child maltreatment.

What people are saying about The Unlearning of Child Welfare Series

I was very heartened to learn that there are many in the field who align with my beliefs, supported by evidence, that the child welfare system needs serious reforms in order to truly serve the needs of children and families.
The ideas of agencies collaborating with each other for the well-being of all families, are amazing. We all want to do better in our field and are exhausted with the loop holes that don’t allow us to help families until it is too late..
This webinar series keeps drawing me in with their masterful facilitators, exciting topics, engaging panelists, and the energy in the chat. The webinar truly feels like a community of passionate people who share in critiques of the current systems and visions of a better future for families..

Watch the Investing in Families webinar series. Anytime. Anywhere.

On-demand access is only one click away. After you register, we’ll also send on-demand access links to your email so you can watch the webinar series on your time.

Watch Episode 1

Watch Episode 2

We’re proud to partner with The Annie E. Casey Foundation and:

Prevent Child Abuse of America Logo

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