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 the Centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux and other local health and social service agencies, 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.


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 


Director’s Message

As the director of the McGill Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF), it is my immense pleasure to write this annual report to give evidence of the activities of CRCF members between May 2016 to April 2017.

The CRCF is, by all means, a centre that produces exemplary, cutting-edge social science research that addresses critical themes and a hub that brings together passionate and committed researchers, students and staff. What makes us so unique is our deep involvement and unceasing collaboration with practice and policy milieus allowing our research to make a true impact for children and families who live in vulnerable contexts. Our tremendous community engagement and connection certainly challenges the long-standing idea that academics remain in their ivory towers!

The CRCF brings together a thriving academic community with 29 faculty members, 14 associate members, 4 postdoctoral fellows, as well as 41 students involved in Centre activities as research assistants and trainees, participating in research seminars, journal clubs and research methods workshops.  The Centre can also count on outstanding staff members that bring invaluable support to the Centre’s activities. 

Originally established in 1985 through an endowment from the Alva Foundation as the Centre for Study of Services to Vulnerable Families[1], 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”.  This gift from the Alva Foundation has placed our centre at the forefront of child welfare research in Canada, and it continues to provide foundation funding for our centre’s core activities, such as research meetings, seminars and staff. Thanks to this gift, the well-being of children and families has been and will remain our prime research focus, with strong emphasis on research with Indigenous children and their communities in Canada. 

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 and

from the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation. The work conducted using these funds have a direct impact on vulnerable children and their families as it allows the Centre to offer a unique platform to develop collaborations with non-academic milieus to help services providers, policy-makers, and governmental representatives access high-quality and sound evidence on which to base their decisions. CRCF members are actively committed to pursuing research that aims to significantly impact the lives of children, youth, and families in various areas.

Based on sustained collaborations, Centre researchers have continued working with many local service providers with which we have established fruitful partnerships over the years, including the Old Brewery Mission, Miriam Home, Ometz Agency, Kahnawake Shakotiia'takenhas Community Services, Montreal City Mission, Agape Por Colombia, the African Canadian Development & Prevention Network, La Fondation du Dr. Julien, the Native Women’s Shelter and Native Friendship Centre of Montreal, le Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en readaptation du Montréal, Step-by-Step Child and Family Centre in Kahnawake, the Love of Reading Foundation, the Ste-Justine and Montreal Children’s Hospitals, and numerous Quebec Child Protection agencies including CIUSSS Ouest de l’ile de Montreal, CISSS Chaudière-Appalaches, CISSS de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, CISSS de l’Outaouais, CISSS de Lanaudière, CISSS de Laval, CISSS de l’Estrie, CISSS des Laurentides, CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent, CISSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean CISSS Gaspésie/Les Îles, CISSS Montérégie, CIUSSS Capitale-Nationale, CIUSSS de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec, CIUSSS du Centre-sud-de-l’ile-de-Montréal and Centre de protection et de réadaptation de la Côte-Nord; with provincial organizations including the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux, Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies,  and the First Nations Health and Social Services Commission of Quebec and Labrador; with various First Nations communities and social service agencies across Canada such as Pinaymootang First Nation and the Saskatchewan First Nations Community and Family Institute of Manitoba; and with national organizations ranging from Public Health Agency of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 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 activities, to conducting clinical studies, providing governments with policy advice, and leading provincial and national epidemiological studies. The Centre houses the most important collection of child welfare research datasets in Canada, including the three national cycles of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, and a Quebec-wide administrative data base 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.

This report covers research, training and dissemination activities from May 2016 to April 2017, and financial reports covering the 2016-2017 fiscal year (May 1 2016 to April 30 2017). Twenty-eight research projects were run through the Centre supported by a budget of $1.2 million in research grants and contracts in 2016-2017. 

The Centre’s dissemination and knowledge mobilization activities include a monthly research seminar series, a monthly child welfare journal club and an indigenous child welfare research group 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. Centre members published 63 articles in peer reviewed journals, 16 book chapters and 51 reports and other publications from May 2016 to April 2017.

Reflecting back on the research produced in CRCF this year and across the past decade, I am deeply proud and impressed by how meaningful and impactful our work has been within academia, our community and beyond. I am looking forward to productive and stimulating new endeavours that will further improve the well-being and strengths of children and families facing adversity and challenges. We hope our work can continue supporting prevention initiatives, early intervention, specialized services and effective policies to shift positively the trajectories of vulnerable populations.

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