The Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP) is a multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to conducting policy research aimed at improving the education and care of Canadian children and youth; contributing to the training of social scientists in quantitative research methods; and supporting low-income countries in their efforts to build research capacity in child development. CRISP carries out this mission by conducting detailed evaluations of local, national, and international policy initiatives, and by analyzing large complex databases such as Canada's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
CRISP researchers have been successful in tackling prominent policy issues, such as the effects of poverty and parenting style on children's developmental outcomes, and the effects of reducing class size on children's schooling outcomes, and giving them grounding in existing literature on child development and schooling. CRISP also plays an active role in the training of the next generation of social scientists in the areas of research and evaluation methods.
CRISP aims to help Canadian communities provide better education and care for their children and to contribute to capacity-building efforts in developing countries. The projects of the Institute aim to advance theory in the areas of education, sociology, and community health, and to help inform decisions made by government and industry concerning investments in human development.
The social policy of a nation is concerned with improving the health and well-being of the entire population, but especially its most vulnerable citizens. The key elements of research on social policy entail: (a) the accurate measurement of social outcomes; (b) assessments of the variation in social outcomes over time, across jurisdictions, among social class and ethnic groups, and between the sexes; (c) causal studies aimed at understanding the determinants of social outcomes, including research on the effects of people's lifestyles, their physical environment, their access to quality health care, and the economic and social milieu in which they live and work; and (d) action-oriented or applied research that assesses the efficacy of community-based interventions and social policies aimed at altering people's lifestyles and improving their economic, physical and social environments. CRISP's research has predominantly focused on the first three of these research elements.
CRISP researchers are increasingly devoting their efforts to bridging the divide from causal studies to applied and action research as a core component of its research program. Researchers are currently working on two applied research studies, one on early literacy assessment and another on the effects of intimate partner violence on children's early development, that are bridging this divide by bringing together researchers from differing perspectives to tackle critical issues concerning child development. These projects are important because they integrate different research perspectives to establish a model for change. They are at the cusp between causal studies aimed at understanding the determinants of social outcomes and applied research that brings new knowledge into practice.