People may come into contact with social service systems at many points in their lives—as children, as young people, as adults, and as seniors. NCCD conducts research and provides expertise in all of these areas, with the goal of making these systems more effective at helping those who engage with them. We also recognize that many people are involved with more than one of these systems; for example, children who become part of the child welfare system are more likely to "cross over" to the juvenile justice system. Studying the relationships between these systems allows us to help prevent multi-system involvement and escalation within systems.
Our work also aims at helping the agencies and organizations who administer and work with social systems use resources more effectively. Actuarial risk assessment, for example, helps agencies target limited resources to the clients who need them most. This targeting creates better outcomes for individuals, agencies, and communities.