The Center for Behavioral Health Research improves the lives of at-risk youth and their families by researching the health and social service systems that care for them. The center is a national leader in research on organizations that provide mental health and child welfare services to youth and families. The center also conducts studies on evidence-based prevention and treatment practices for delinquency, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Much of the center's work has focused on developing and testing strategies for assessing and changing the cultures and climates of youth-serving organizations to improve their effectiveness.
In operation for more than twenty years, the center's research has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the W.T. Grant Foundation, and other public and private funders. In 2012, the Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professorship in Behavioral Health was established at the center to support a nationally known researcher in medicine, social work, psychology, or related field, who is focused on improving services to youth and families at risk.
The center recently established the ARC Institute for Organizational Effectiveness to disseminate the tools and strategies it has designed to help mental health and social service organizations become more effective in meeting the needs of the youth and families they serve.
The Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS) began over 35 years ago as a small arm of the University of Tennessee College of Social Work that could provide continuing education for social workers in the state of Tennessee.
SWORPS now serves clients on local, state, and national levels ranging from the Knoxville Police Department to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. SWORPS has developed the capability to be involved at any stage in developing or implementing a project for human service agencies. SWORPS provides needs assessment, program evaluation, technical assistance, research services, software application design and deployment, and other resources to human service agencies, to the professional human service practitioners that these agencies employ, and to the social work community at large. To provide these services, SWORPS employs operational units designed to meet specific state agencies' unique needs related to assessing programs and facilities, assuring quality, coordinating service delivery, tracking interagency agreements, and employing innovative technology.
Accredited continuously since 1945 by the Council on Social Work Education.