Innovations Institute is a leader in building effective public-serving systems to improve the well-being of and ensure vibrant futures for children, youth, their families, and communities. Our programs touch nearly every state and territory in the country and, through online and in person training, we have trained over 80,000 practitioners in child welfare, children’s behavioral health, and other child- and family-serving systems. The impact of this work is improved quality and effectiveness of public-serving systems that are responsive to unique needs of young people and their families from diverse communities, cultures, identities, and experiences.
We believe we can achieve a world where all families thrive in their communities and the work of child-, youth-, and family-serving public systems is grounded in research and implementation science and driven by principles of anti-racism, social justice, equity, inclusion, and authentic partnerships with youth and their families and communities
The Innovations Institute at the UConn School of Social Work uses its research, commitment to social justice, partnerships with youth and families, and expertise to build robust, inclusive, culturally responsive, and high-quality child-, youth-, and family-serving public systems.
Innovations Institute works to address and eliminate oppressive practices by developing and integrating anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and equity-focused policies and practices within our organization as well as in our work with states, partners, and systems of care. We strive to foster an inclusive environment that honors and is reflective of the culturally diverse populations/communities that we serve. We work to ensure that those youth and families who need the support of public systems can access programs and services that are inclusive, evidence-informed, and anti-racist.
Our work is grounded by these values:
Young people and their families are the experts in their lives, strengths, and needs and must be centered in all our work.
Young people must be supported to thrive within their families and communities.
Families—of origin and choice—are the best supports for raising strong, healthy, capable, and happy children, youth, and youth adults.
Systems are not replacements for families or communities.
Cultural humility and the willingness to engage in self-reflection and the acknowledgement of our own biases is a lifelong process that is essential to our work.
An intersectional analysis that examines power and identity must be applied in our work. Race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, ability, religion, geography, and immigration status are interconnected and impact the experiences, opportunities, and health status of young people and their families.
People deserve access to services that are effective. For this reason, implementation science—a set of activities that facilitate the uptake of evidence-based practice—is at the heart of our work.
Communities, families, advocates, and allies should hold systems accountable for better policies and practices to ensure that youth and their families are supported.
Acknowledging the impact of racism, homophobia, colonialism, and anti-immigrant prejudice on our laws, policies, and practices, and working collaboratively to dismantle the harm caused by structural injustice and inequities, are essential to creating equitable care and inclusive communities for children, youth, young adults, and their families.