Past Projects

“Building resilience and strengthening families and communities.”

ACEs Aware

Adversity experienced in early life can negatively impact a child’s development and increase their risk for serious health conditions later in life. Screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) allows for early detection of toxic stress and hence, early intervention.
Under the guidance of California’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and the ACEs Aware Initiative, the national ACE Resource Network has launched a campaign The Story of Your Number. This campaign was established to increase awareness and understanding of ACEs and its relation to toxic stress. By helping us understand our ACE history through categories of abuse, neglect and household challenges, Number Story hopes to provide insight and education, promote healing and prevention, and to disrupt the transmission of ACEs down to future generations. They are here to remind us that we are not defined by our number and no one’s experience is the same, but together we can empower individuals and communities nationwide to change their story and create positive and healthy outcomes for themselves and their future.
To learn more about the Number Story campaign, head to

Strategies 2.0

Between 2016 and 2020, the Social Policy Institute (SPI) was one of three partners in the implementation of the state-wide Strategies 2.0 Training and Capacity Building Initiative, funded by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) within the California Department of Social Services. The SPI team led the development of a rigorous Continued Quality Improvement (CQI) system and was the lead designer and developer of all curriculum and resources, such as Toolkits and Knowledge to Action briefs.

Strategies 2.0 services to the family strengthening field included: training, consultation, peer learning, and other professional development opportunities both in-person and online. Strategies 2.0 services were designed to help grow the knowledge and networks for professionals working with families to mitigate the risk factors of child abuse and neglect in California.

The final report for Strategies 2.0 report can be accessed here.

California Child Abuse Prevention Councils (CAPC) Best Practice Guidelines

In alignment with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention’s vision, and in partnership with Strategies 2.0 and CAPCs throughout the state, the Social Policy Institute has developed Best Practice Guidelines for California CAPCs.

Child Abuse Prevention Councils (CAPCs) are the catalyst, convener and coordinator of the countywide approach to prevention of child maltreatment. The role and best practice guidance supports CAPCs in their leadership role, and partnering within counties and communities to prevent child abuse and neglect while promoting child and family health and well-being.

Please access the CAPC Best Practice Guidelines here.

PASS Impact in Ventura County

Key Finding: Priority timelines are achievable! Priority Access to Services and Supports (PASS) was Beta-tested in Ventura County. PASS accomplished an expedited screening and referral to parents who have had children removed from their care.

Specific results include the following:

– Nearly 83% of the parents referred were screened, with 85% of those screenings occurring within the 5 working day benchmark.
– Of the parents referred, 87% had an appointment set within the 5 working days of the referral.

Of those who were assessed, 85% were linked with services within 5 working days of their assessment dates.

Read the full PASS report here: PASS Report

Partners in Prevention (PiP)

By bringing cross-sector partners together in authentic collaboration for collective impact, Partners in Prevention builds on the vision to increase the capacity of providers and caregivers to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of children 0-5 in order to support their engagement in and ongoing success in formal and informal early care and education settings..

Over 25% of children in San Diego county are living in poverty, plus many more families are struggling to make ends meet.
We know that chronic poverty contributes to toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences. We also know that struggling with basic needs impacts parental stress and contributes as a risk factor for maltreatment. We know that childhood adversity, both for children and parents, have lifelong impacts in health, wellbeing and overall stability. And the bottom line is that too many families are experiencing adverse childhood experiences from poverty, toxic stress, and trauma. We have an opportunity here to do more and to do it differently.

What “Prevention” Means for San Diego
Shared Definition of Prevention: families thrive in a connected community that enhances and restores nurturing and responsive relationships and environments. It involves aligning impact on multiple levels so that all children are safe and cherished, all families are nurtured to build up protective factors, and systems/structures create equitable pathways to wellness. In San Diego the focus is on primary prevention. Our shared approach will reflect the innovation required to meet the evolving priorities and needs of children, families and communities.

United Parents

SPI analyses their own impact and helps others to understand and make sense of theirs. One example is United Parents, a grassroots organization that was awarded funding from the Mental Health Services and Accountability Commission (MHSA OAC) funding to lift the voice of parents and caregivers who have a child with a behavioral health challenge.

United Parents’ most recent report, a three year retrospective developed by SPI, can be found here.

Stories of Success

What Our Partners Say

Elizabeth Estes

“The Social Policy Institute’s Director, Steve Hornberger, has been an integral part of Breaking Barriers development and implementation. The Social Policy Institute team has brought excellence and innovation to support Breaking Barriers’ work across systems to increase and enhance the well-being of California’s children and youth.”

Elizabeth Estes

Founder, Breaking Barriers
Robin Jenkins

“San Diego State University’s Social Policy Institute has been a highly valued partner for the State of California and an array of organizations seeking to effectively translate evidence-supported science into well-designed public policies for broad social benefits. One example is through our National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives and SDSU collaborations. As well, SPI’s work with county-level Prevention teams and their articulation of best practices with and for Child Abuse Prevention Councils across the state of California has been impressive.”

Robin Jenkins

Associate Director, The Impact Center, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
Dr. Rachelle Benson

“The entire team at the Social Policy Institute brought subject matter expertise and cultural humility to the revision and redesign of our Faith-based and Behavioral Health Training Academy! Our trainers appreciated the validation for what they already know and can do; coaching to raise their game to a higher level of performance; and the high-quality, evidence-based materials.”

Dr. Rachelle Benson

Vice President, Stepping Higher Inc.

Child Welfare & Prevention Posts & Resources

Access the Social Policy Institute Blog to learn more.
Birth of Brilliance 2024 Conference
March 2024 Newsletter
United Parents: Parent and Caregiver Engagement Toolkit

Connect With Us


Get the latest updates and news

Social Policy Institute © 2024 All rights reserved.