Network director addresses the UK child welfare system

Across the pond, Jennie Noll’s message of academia to combat and prevent child maltreatment is being heard and gaining traction.

Noll, director of Penn State's Child Maltreatment Solutions Network and professor of human development and family studies, recently attended the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's (NSPCC) Rebuilding Childhood Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, to present two plenary addresses to conference attendees.

Noll’s first presentation was centered on her research regarding the public health impact of child maltreatment, the high costs associated with maltreatment and the various policy activities in which she has been engaged over the past three years.

In a second session, Noll presented the model for the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network as an academic vehicle to impact policy. She showcased the “bridge to policy” model that the Network currently employs in order to make tangible legislative changes using research, data and in-depth analyses. This model provides an outline for research to be translated into economic and public health messages that are able to reach and resonate with policymakers.

Attendees of the NSPCC event included healthcare providers, academics and the exact policymakers that the “bridge” model tries to reach, including John Swinney, the Scottish Parliament’s deputy first minister, who spoke about pressing issues and challenges for the UK child welfare system.

Since the conference, Noll and her team of faculty have continued to interact with the United Kingdom’s child welfare system in a number of ways. Noll has worked with the office of the Deputy First Minister to estimate public health costs and large-scale economic impacts of maltreatment for the UK.

Additionally, Noll and her team have exchanged administrative data with the UK and will soon facilitate the application of predictive analytics across the child welfare systems of both the U.S. and the UK. Network faculty will be working directly with researchers at the University of Glasgow on this project.

According to Noll, the data that has been exchanged helps researchers understand how the arm of maltreatment extends into the allocation of other government resources and programs.

“These analytics allow us to predict which other public systems — including juvenile justice and public assistance, like Medicaid — also touch children who are involved in child welfare,” said Noll. “This helps us communicate the economic impact of child maltreatment on a country-wide scale.”

The collaboration and NSPCC presentation are among a series of international engagements that Noll has had over the past few years. She has also spoken at the World Health Summit in Berlin and to the Japanese Delegation of Child Welfare.

The Child Maltreatment Solutions Network was created to advance Penn State’s academic mission of teaching, research and engagement in the area of child maltreatment. Since the Network was launched in Fall 2012, its conferences have established a concrete frontier of understanding child maltreatment through advanced research. It is a part of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State. For more information on the Network, please visit here.