How can researchers help state agencies and the NC General Assembly better serve youth and families associated with the foster care system?

Opportunity closes: Open until filled
Department or Agency: NC Collaboratory, NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Department of Public Safety

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Foster careData sharingProgram evaluationSystem integration

Project Overview


The North Carolina Collaboratory and NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) are hosting a research partnership interest meeting on Tuesday, June 11, 1:00pm – 2:30pm to discuss this government-research partnership opportunity. Please email to request an invitation to this virtual meeting.

The issues faced by youth and families associated with the foster care system are highly complex. To help ongoing efforts to address these issues across state government, the NC Collaboratory seeks to launch a research and evaluation initiative that can:

  1. Respond in a timely manner to legislative questions to inform policy.
  2. Establish long-term partnerships between and among the NC Collaboratory, researchers, state agencies, nonprofits, and communities that can use research findings to enhance and scale programs and services in counties and statewide.

Through these approaches, the NC Collaboratory is seeking research partners to help answer the following questions:

  1. How can the organizations and entities responsible for tracking individuals that cross between foster care and juvenile justice systems improve tracking processes to enhance understanding of entry and exit points, trajectories, and experiences?
  2. What are the drivers of homelessness and incarceration (including intergenerational relationships) among individuals that have exited the foster care system, and how can organizations and entities address those drivers?
  3. What are the barriers to achieving and expediting permanency and adoption, and how do they impact Questions 1 and 2?
  4. To what extent do public and private preventative approaches (e.g., programs designed to support families during crises) impact Questions 1 and 2, and what best practices exist?
  5. How and to what extent is the North Carolina foster care system integrated with other systems (e.g., health, housing, and education), and how could further integration improve foster care outcomes and permanency?
  6. What programs and services (including pilot initiatives and those related to substance use) already exist to address Questions 1-5, and what are the best approaches to measuring the effectiveness and scalability of those programs and services between and across counties?
  7. To what extent are permanency and adoption reliable measures of success for foster care policies, programs, and services?

The NC Collaboratory identified these questions through a series of initial conversations, as well as through planning meetings that OSP convened with state agencies associated with the foster care system – including the NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Department of Public Safety (specifically, the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention), and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (specifically, the Division of Social Services) – as well as staff members of the NC General Assembly. This list of questions is likely to expand as the NC Collaboratory solicits additional input from researchers, state agencies, legislators, nonprofit organizations, and communities. Researchers/research teams may express interest in working on one or more of the questions above.

The NC Collaboratory was established at UNC Chapel Hill by the NC General Assembly as a funding agency to support research that directly benefits people across the state. The NC Collaboratory specializes in addressing complex issues by funding networks of researchers who can work in partnership with governments, communities, nonprofits, and private industry to advance data-driven solutions that positively impact policy and practice.

Anticipated deliverables

All research and evaluation efforts should seek to develop research findings that can inform decisions, practices, and policies that directly benefit people in North Carolina. Based on preliminary discussions with state government and foster care experts, anticipated deliverables for this research and evaluation initiative may include, but are not limited to:

  • Policy briefs with evidence-based recommendations (either generated through rapid reviews of existing literature or new research findings) for policies, programs, and services
  • Best practices (e.g., for sharing between counties)
  • Methodologies (e.g., for longitudinal evaluation)
  • Tools (e.g., for cross-system data analysis and interpretation)
  • Instruments to assist with measuring the effectiveness of programs and services
  • Presentations to state government and other stakeholders to raise awareness, build capacity, and solicit feedback on new findings and approaches

Planned use of results

Ideally, projects supported through this funding opportunity will generate findings that can be used by the NC General Assembly, state agencies, nonprofits, and communities to inform policy, agency operations, and program/service implementation. To achieve this, researchers will be expected to uplift partners from communities and governments as experts and key contributors throughout the research process, from formation of research questions and study design to data analysis and interpretation.


There is funding available for this opportunity. The NC Collaboratory anticipates awarding two types of grants:

  1. Short-term grants for rapid response to legislative questions.
  2. Multi-year grants to establish long-term partnerships with the NC General Assembly, state agencies, nonprofits, and communities.

Award amounts will be determined following the research partnership interest meeting on June 11, 2024, and further investigation into research scope and feasibility.


Data may be made available through data sharing agreements with participating state agencies, subject to each agency’s policies and the scope of awarded research projects. Data may also be made available through engagement with the NC Government Data Analytics Center, also subject to the scope of awarded research projects. All award recipients must be prepared to work with the NC Collaboratory to adjust their project timeframe and scope of work in response to feedback from government stakeholders and during data sharing negotiations.

This project is open. Interested in collaborating?

Project point of contact

Greer Arthur

Research Director

NC Collaboratory

Application details

Expertise needed

Any institution of higher education in North Carolina is eligible to apply. Any individual with the resources, skills, and knowledge required to carry out the proposed activities may serve as principal investigator in accordance with their institutional policies.

Key dates

Open until filled.

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