Our History

WRI was founded in 1967 under New York State's not-for-profit law.

1970s - 1980s

In the 1970s and 1980s, we concentrated our activities on research, evaluation, conference coordination, and training and technical assistance. Key projects:

  • WRI evaluated the implementation and effectiveness of the state Child Welfare Reform Act (CWRA) of 1979 for the Division of Budget and the New York State Child Abuse Prevention Act (CAPA) of 1985 for the New York State Council on Children and Families.
  • In cooperation with the New York City Board of Education Office of Education Assessment, WRI evaluated the expansion of the School Health Demonstration Program (SHDP).
  • WRI formed the Public Employment Research Institute and the Labor-Management Relations Training Institute to conduct research, provide support services to public employers, and conduct training in labor-management relations for public employees.
  • WRI coordinated a multimedia effort (radio, television, and newspaper advertising, transit posters, and educational materials) to promote sound nutrition among low-income households and increase awareness of federally funded nutrition programs.

1990s

In the 1990s WRI augmented its ability to assist clients in writing, editing, and designing informational and promotional materials. Key projects:

  • Child Protective Services Field Operations Manual and the Foster Care/Adoption Services Manual for the New York City Child Welfare Agency
  • Institutional Abuse Program Manual for the New York State Department of Social Services.

WRI also expanded its research areas of interest to include services provided to minorities, HIV/AIDS patients, and foster children. Key projects:

  • We provided training and technical assistance to minority community-based organizations over a six-year period to support them in obtaining public funds and meeting the complex reporting, fiscal, and recordkeeping requirements of government agencies.
  • We assessed the Gannett Foundation's three-year adult literacy grant program to identify and document best practices among grantees. WRI also researched and compiled two reports on workplace literacy programs for the Governor's Office of Employee Relations and the Civil Service Employees Association.
  • We compiled a comprehensive directory of funding sources for AIDS-related initiatives and then conducted technical assistance workshops to help community-based organizations use the directory.
  • We administered a project grant that funded interagency coordination and collaboration of services to emotionally disturbed children and their families in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx.

2000 – 2009

The early 2000s were a period during which WRI focused on its two longstanding contracts with New York City and New York State, work that continued through the next decade as well:

  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: WRI’s role is primarily to support out-stationed staff in the city, but the contract also provides an opportunity to assist the agency with procurement as needed. This contract has been in place since 1993.
  • New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), Bureau of Training and Development:  WRI facilitated out-stationed staff, procurements, and provided support to the Youth Advisory Board under this grant.  Projects also included working with OCFS develop a number of online and printed training manuals and system user guides, including the Home Finding Practice Guide; Foster Care Practice Guide; Foster Parent Manual; Having a Voice and a Choice: New York State Handbook for Relatives Raising Children; Working Together: Health Services for Children in Foster Care; and the New York State Child Protective Services Manual.  These can be found at: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/sppd/child-welfare-manuals.php

2010 – 2020

This decade was a period of dramatic and exciting change for the organization. In 2012, we had an infusion of new leadership following the retirement of our longtime Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer. WRI consistently diversified its funding, receiving grants from federal, state, county, foundation, and not for profit entities. These included:

  • Innovations in Family Recruitment-NY:  In 2013, WRI assisted OCFS in securing for New York State one of five demonstration grants awarded nationally. OCFS then contracted with WRI to implement a five-year, federally-funded project focused on the diligent recruitment of foster, adoptive, and kinship homes. WRI provided technical assistance to seven New York counties to strengthen their recruitment and retention strategies, and developed resource materials highlighting best practices for national dissemination that received national recognition (https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/fostercare/recruitment/strategies.html).
  • As an outgrowth of this project, WRI piloted Fostering Futures New York (FFNY), a program that identified, trained, and managed teams of volunteers to provide practical supports to local foster parents, such as meals, spending time with children, and helping with home maintenance. More than 20 teams were created, including volunteers from various faith-based and community organizations. The direct service aspect of the program was transitioned in 2020 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region.
  • WRI conducted evaluation projects for a number of organizations, such as the NYS Office of Court Administration (OCA), the Mental Health Association in NYS, the NYS Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association, and Casey Family Programs. 
  • Consulting work with local departments of social services was provided under grants from the Redlich Horwitz Foundation, as well as county grants. 
  • WRI provided event planning support to OCA, OCFS, and the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. 
  • WRI provided support to the state’s Citizen Review Panels for child protective services (www.citizenreviewpanelsny.org/). The second five-year contract for this work was awarded effective 2/1/20.

The end of the decade brought with it some major shifts that presented both challenges and opportunities. In 2019 OCFS’s Bureau of Training and Development embarked on a new path by cutting ties with its chief training partner at Buffalo State College and building a state-of-the-art training center in Albany to centralize activities that had previously been distributed around the state. WRI picked up a significant amount of additional work for this transition year. In mid-2019, OCFS revived Youth Research Inc. (YRI), its dormant non-profit quasi-governmental agency exclusively working with OCFS, to take on many of these responsibilities starting in 2020. While not unexpected, the shift of training-related work away from WRI was a loss of a longstanding contract that produced creative and durable work of great benefit to the child welfare field.

Significant new opportunities arising in 2020 include WRI’s five-year appointment as the state’s administrator of the Education and Training Vouchers, supporting current and former foster youth in their pursuit of post-secondary education (https://etv-nys.smapply.org/). In addition, we signed a three-year contract with the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) to develop “Quick Guides: Tools for Independence.”

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