About Us

Our Mission

The Center for Child and Family Policy is dedicated to improving the well-being of children and families through research, education, and engagement. We study factors that influence child outcomes, develop and test promising interventions, and advance evidence-based practices and policies that can inform change and unlock opportunities for all children and their families.

Our Goals


  • To develop research-based strategies for reducing inequities and promoting positive outcomes for all children.
  • To inform the development and implementation of evidence-based programs and policies to meet the needs of children, families, and communities.
  • To improve program implementation and evaluation through strong community-research partnerships.
  • To strengthen research capacity and infrastructure by providing access to data sources that foster innovative education research

  • To promote understanding of issues facing children and families among students, scholars, policymakers and practitioners.
  • To build students’ practical skills through opportunities to join research teams, work with CCFP scholars and conduct independent research
  • To inform students, policymakers and practitioners about current research in child and family policy by hosting and facilitating conversations and sharing research findings to improve policies and practices that impact children and families.

Our History

The Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) is one of the signature centers of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. CCFP works to promote the well-being of children and families through research, education, and engagement, under the leadership of Jennifer Lansford, the Center director.

With more than $8 million in yearly grant funding and a team of more than 70 faculty, researchers and staff, CCFP engages in innovative research to develop and test promising interventions, advance evidence-based practices and policies to improve children’s lives, and share research with policymakers and public agencies. CCFP also serves as an interdisciplinary hub for researchers across the university, including more than 40 faculty affiliates, whose work focuses on child and family well-being.

The Center was founded as part of the Sanford School in 1999 with the goal of bringing the knowledge and research of the university to bear on issues of importance in child and family policy. At its founding, CCFP was charged by the Sanford dean to, “Make a difference!” For more than 20 years, CCFP has done so, with many notable successes including:

  • NC Resilience and Learning: in partnership with the Public School Forum of North Carolina, CCFP researchers have helped develop a whole school, whole child framework to create trauma-sensitive schools that will improve academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes for students.
  • Family Connects: To address high rates of child maltreatment in Durham county and improve child outcomes, researchers at CCFP developed and piloted Family Connects. Today, Family Connects is an evidence-based home visiting model used in communities and states across the U.S.
  • Innovations in Child Welfare: From CCFP’s earliest days, researchers have partnered with state and local social services agencies to support implementation and evaluation of new practices in child welfare. From helping shape the state’s move to the more family-centered Multiple Response System to current evaluations of the Family Centered Treatment model on youth, family and cost outcomes, relative to out-of-home placements.
  • The North Carolina Education Data Research Center: For more than twenty years, the successful partnership between CCFP and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has facilitated research on pressing education issues by researchers both at Duke and other universities. Notably, CCFP researchers have used NCEDRC to show the positive impact of North Carolina’s early care and education investments on student outcomes in later years.

Our Statement on Race Equity

As we look critically at our work and the challenges facing children and families in the US today, we see that embedded structural racism is the major barrier to achieving better outcomes for children and families. For children and families to thrive, we must confront and correct historic and current policies that create inequitable opportunities.

We recognize that we cannot unlock opportunities for all children and families without working towards racial justice. As a Center, we are working to support our faculty and staff in better understanding the ways structural racism impacts ourselves, our organization, our communities, and our work. By understanding the impacts of structural racism on children and families, we can contribute to research on programs, policies, and interventions that provide opportunities for all children and families, particularly those who have been marginalized by structural racism.