CRISP was established as a research institute at the University of New Brunswick in 2000. It grew out of the Atlantic Centre for Policy Research, which was founded in 1996 and supported by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) with funding for a Research Chair in Human Development at UNB. The founding of a national institute reflected CRISP's emphasis on social policy at a national level, and the broader mandate that included the educational, behavioural and health outcomes of children and youth. CRISP's research on vulnerable children in Canada based on the NLSCY helped to establish the institute as a centre of excellence in social policy research. In conducting this work, CRISP built strong collaborative relationships with researchers from different disciplines across Canada and abroad, and took a lead in providing training programs on quantitative methods for young scholars from across Canada.
CRISP is situated at UNB-Fredericton in the centre of campus. Its researchers have included full-time faculty from Business Administration, Education, Kinesiology, Nursing, and Statistics, as well as graduate students from most faculties. CRISP draws strength from the successful UNB research programs in Computing, Economics, Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, Kinesiology and Mathematics and Statistics, and in doing so has become known for bringing methodological techniques used in the physical sciences to bear on problems in the social sciences. UNB worked with CRISP researchers to support the development of a Research Data Centre, a research facility managed in partnership with Statistics Canada, which enables researchers from UNB and from across Atlantic Canada to analyze confidential microdata in a secure environment.