Skip to Content

College of Social Work


Institute for Families in Society

The Institute for Families in Society conducts research with partner organizations to reduce child abuse, strengthen and engage families and communities and improve the health of vulnerable populations. We build on the strength of the University of South Carolina’s research community to advance the science of helping families and at-risk populations.

For more than 25 years, the institute has worked across disciplines and programs to support nonprofit organizations and federal and state agencies, such as the departments of Social Services, Juvenile Justice and Health and Human Services.

We tackle critical issues such as mental health, trauma, abuse and neglect and help our partners access training and support to deliver evidence-based services.

It’s different to talk about helping families through data-driven decisions versus talking about just helping families. Families need a lot, and how can you help them if you don’t have data?

Kathleen Hayes, associate director, Institute for Families in Society


Our focus areas include the following:

  • Division of Integrated Health and Policy Research, which concentrates on policy analysis and health and family issues that affect South Carolina and the nation, particularly Medicaid policy. The team uses geographic data to explore the links between health, health service delivery systems and well-being.

  • Division of Children, Youth and Families, which advances evidence-based practices and policies to enhance the lives of children, youth and families, particularly among underserved populations. Strong relationships with child and family serving agencies and organizations support the division’s efforts to educate, understand and improve behavioral health outcomes.

  • South Carolina Center of Excellence in Evidence-Based Intervention, which helps state agencies and organizations select and implement evidence-based practices to promote youth and family well-being and to address challenges related to behavioral health problems and substance use.