C4: Science, Family Voice, and Economic Stability: Applied Pathways to Achieving Better Outcomes

Area of Focus: Innovative Programs and Practices

Many social service providers want to improve outcomes for families. To do this, they seek tools that draw deeply from the science of early childhood development and use a two-generation approach to easily incorporate principles of human-centered design. This workshop will discuss an overarching framework for the kind of support caregivers really need—holistic support that builds executive functioning, is grounded in respect, and structured around tangible economic mobility and family goals. Engaging with all types of families collaboratively and responding in the moment to how they are experiencing a program so that it can be adapted appropriately will also be highlighted. The focus is on designing programs that don’t cause further stress and re-traumatization to families, but rather to help them feel more in control of their futures.

The Children’s Home Society of America (CHSA) member organizations have partnered with Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child (HCDC) and EMPath to inform the development of two tools that can be easily and affordably applied across a range of human services settings to help improve child and family outcomes. Science X Design (SxD) from Harvard is a process that supports organizations and teams in identifying a problem informed by three dimensions: Science, the family voice, and the wisdom of program staff. SxD has recently been adapted as a digital open access tool. EMPath’s Mobility Mentoring provides much-needed tools for staff to engage with parents and caregivers as well as to measure the impact of the program. It features the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency which has been proven to support families while they achieve goals that improve financial stability, like securing employment, housing, building up savings, and completing professional training.

Learning Objectives

  • About CHSA’s evidence-informed and evidence-generating projects
  • Lessons learned through these projects
  • No- and low-cost tools and approaches to achieve better outcomes with children and families


Susan Crowley
Senior Program Manager
Harvard Center for the Developing Child

Nicki Ruiz de Luzuriaga
Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Gabriel McGaughey
Director of Child Well-Being
Children’s Wisconsin Community Services

Marlo Nash
Managing Director
Children’s Home Society of America

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