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), I am delighted to write this annual report to give evidence of the activities of CRCF members between May 2018 and April 2019.

The CRCF, is home to cutting-edge research on effective programs and policies concerning youth and family services. It offers a unique platform for developing local, national, and international collaboration in academic and non-academic milieus. The Centre also acts as a hub that brings together passionate and committed researchers, and students. Between May 2018 and April 2019, the Centre supported a thriving academic community with 35 faculty members who ran 30 national and international projects and provided training to 7 postdoctoral fellows, 42 graduate and non-graduate students, and 17 associate members. The Centre can also count on 4 outstanding staff members that bring invaluable support to the Centre’s activities.

The Centre’s 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.

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”. 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.

In addition, 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.

Indeed, what makes the CRCF so unique is the members’ deep involvement and unceasing collaboration with practice and policy settings allowing the research to make a true impact for children and families who live in vulnerable contexts. Based on sustained collaborations, Centre researchers have continued working with many service providers with which we have established fruitful partnerships over the years including:

Local agencies: 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, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), Boscoville, English Montreal School Board, the LBPSB Centre of Excellence in Mental Health, the Western Quebec Public School Board, the Ottawa-Carleton Public School Board. Quebec Child Protection agencies: 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 Bas-St-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. Provincial organizations: 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. First Nations communities and social service agencies: Pinaymootang First Nation and the Saskatchewan First Nations Community, Family Institute of Manitoba, Kitigan Zibi First Nation School. National organizations: Public Health Agency of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Mental Health Commission of Canada. 

This report covers research, training and dissemination activities from May 2018 to April 2019, and financial reports covering the 2018-2019 fiscal year (May 1 2018 to April 30 2019). Thirty research projects were run through the Centre supported by a budget of $344,000 in research grants and contracts in 2018-2019. While the level of research activity has remained consistent, there has been a significant decrease in funding due to a number of grants and gifts coming to an end. During the past 10 years, the CRCF has greatly benefited from exceptional infrastructure funding which allowed for an increased level of support to be provided for all of it’s research activities. This funding allowed us to offer additional training, dissemination activities, statistical consultation, grant administration, computer and software access, and administrative support. While the decrease in funding did not impact CRCF’s productivity, it did require a restructuring of the services offered to members. It has been a challenging year, requiring the need to make some difficult choices, such as reducing the amount of Centre administrative staff, in order to reduce expenses. The Centre is tremendously fortunate to have permanent foundation funding as a result of it’s endowed funds from the Alva Foundation, and can therefore continue to offer core support and services to it’s members.

The Centre’s dissemination and knowledge mobilization activities include a monthly research seminar series, two monthly journal clubs and an indigenous child welfare research group as well as 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 87 articles in peer reviewed journals, 2 books, 32 book chapters and 40 reports and other publications from May 2018 to April 2019.

The Centre also provided research training through a variety of programs including external graduate scholarships, research assistantships, journal clubs, thesis research support, and statistical consultation in addition to hosting 2 workshops.

Entering my sixth year as the Director of the centre, I am truly honoured to be representing a group of academics and trainees that are thriving to 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.​​


Follow these links for the full versions of the:

Back to top