Quick Links

About us



The Centre conducts and disseminates research on effective programs and policies for vulnerable children and youth and their families.

Vulnerability is broadly defined to include social, family, emotional, cognitive and health related problems that place children and youth at risk of developing serious psycho-social problems and not being able to achieve their full developmental potential. These can include a range of problems such as poverty, family violence, youth violence, mental health problems and disabilities.

Programs and policies include prevention and intervention programs to support vulnerable children and their families that have been developed in a range of settings, including but not limited to child welfare, children's mental health, education, recreation, and health care.


  1. conducting research on effective prevention and intervention programs for vulnerable children and their families, including (i) research to understand risk and protective factors, (ii) efficacy and cost-effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs, (iii) analysis of administrative datasets to describe services and track outcomes, and (iv) in-depth studies to explore process and contextual factors that effect program implementation;
  2. developing partnerships between researchers, service providers and policy makers, with a specific focus on (i) promoting research in partnership with Batshaw Youth and Family Centres and other child and youth health and social service agencies in Montreal and across Quebec, particularly organizations serving the Anglophone community, and (ii) providing a bridge between Quebec's extensive network of francophone community-university child and family research groups and other McGill, Canadian and international research groups focusing on vulnerable children and youth;
  3. providing research training for graduate and post-graduate students, as well as supporting the development of research capacity in child and family service agencies;
  4. ensuring timely dissemination of Centre-based research in a manner that is accessible and relevant to policy makers and service providers.


The core infrastructure for the Centre is supported by several operating endowments. The Alva Foundation, which has established both the Philip Fisher Chair and Directorship of the Centre and created an endowment that provides operating income for the Centre. The Centre's operating endowment has also been supported and significantly increased through the support of an anonymous donor.

A generous ten year grant from the The Royal Bank of Canada has permitted the creation of the RBC Children’s Services Research & Training Program at the CRCF which will support two key initiatives. The first initiative is to provide technical support and research training to assist policy makers and community-based children’s mental health service providers in developing their research and program evaluation capacity. In addition, the funds will be used to staff and maintain a data laboratory set up to extract and house administrative children services data from across the country. The second initiative is to support an RBC Internship Program that allows community professionals and students with research internship and training opportunities to develop their capacity to use research tools to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and services.

The centre’s research, training and dissemination activities are supported further by a number of research grants and contracts held by centre researchers. A complete list of these grants and contracts can be seen on our Projects page.


In accord with the university regulations for Research Centres at McGill, the following by-laws describe the governance structure for the Centre for Research on Children and Families:

CRCF By-Laws

 Passed by the CRCF Advisory Committee, May 2007, pending APPC approval.


Director’s Message

As I enter my tenth and final year as Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families I am pleased to report that the Centre has become a leading Canadian social research centre with established partnerships with local, provincial and national child and family support services and advocacy organizations. Originally established in 1985 through an endowment from the Alva Foundation as the Centre for Study of Services to Vulnerable Families, the Centre’s name and mandate were re-focused in 2005 with the mission to “conduct and disseminate research on effective programs and policies for vulnerable children and youth and their families”. The CRCF now hosts over 30 research projects supported by annual average of one million dollars in funds brought in by a core group of dozen faculty; a more than tenfold return on the Alva endowment income. The CRCF brings together a thriving academic community with over forty students involved in Centre activities as research assistants and trainees, participating in research seminars, journal clubs and research methods workshops. I look forward to continuing to be involved as a member of the CRCF and participating in the Centre’s sustained development under the leadership of a new Director.

This report covers research, training and dissemination activities from January 2013 to December 2013, and financial reports covering the 2012-13 fiscal year (May 1 2012 to April 30 2013). Thirty-two 2 research projects were run through the Centre in 2013 supported by over a million dollars in research grants and contracts, including a seven-year SSHRC Partnership Development grant in partnership with First Nations and mainstream Youth Protection service organizations. Funding for the CRCF core infrastructure is supported by an endowment provided by the Alva Foundation (see Appendix A). Support for community research projects and operating the Children’s Service Data Lab is provided through a Royal Bank of Canada gift for the RBC Children’s Services Research & Training Program.

Centre researchers have been working with many local service providers inclung the Old Brewery Mission, Kahnawake Shakotiia'takenhas Community Services, the African Canadian Development & Prevention Network, Batshaw Youth and Family Services, tSt Justine and Montreal Children’s Hopitals, provincial organizations including the Ministry of health and Social Services, the Association des centre jeunesse du Québec and the First Nations Health and Social Services Commission of Quebec and Labrador, and national organizations ranging from Public Health Agency of Canada, the Assembly First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family caring society and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Our activities range from assisting agencies with program development and program evaluation actiities, to conducting clinical studies, to providing governments with policy advice, to leading provincial and national epidemiological studies. The Centre houses the most important collection of tracking over 400,000 children who have received Youth Protection services over the last twenty years. Research activities have had program and policy impact at all levels, from local agencies, to departments of social services in several provinces, to Federal agencies and NGOs.

The Centre’s dissemination and knowledge mobilization activities include a monthly research seminar series, two monthly journal clubs (child welfare and children’s disabilities) as well as a range of research training workshops. The Centre’s reach across Canada and internationally is supported by the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal (cwrp.ca), Canada’s most extensive child welfare research and policy clearinghouse. The Centre’s membership counts over 45 student and community members, 15 professors, and four research labs. Centre members published 59 articles in peer reviewed journals, 2 books, 10 book chapters and 19 reports in 2013.

The CRCF activities chart tracks projects, new funds received in the fiscal year as well as the number of students involved with Centre projects. Funds tracked include all funds managed by the Centre that were received in the fiscal year. These do not include funds from the Centre’s endowment (see Appendix A) nor do they included funds that Centre researchers have access to as collaborators or co-investigators on projects run outside the Centre.

Follow these links for the full versions of the: