Research & Biography

Tina L. Rzepnicki, A.M., Ph.D., is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor Emerita at the School of Social Service Administration. Her areas of special interest include case decision-making, task-centered and behavioral practice, and practice research, particularly in the field of child welfare.

At SSA, Professor Rzepnicki has taught courses in direct practice, family intervention for child abuse and neglect, task-centered and behavioral practice, clinical and organizational issues in child welfare service, and intervention research.

Her scholarship has focused on child protection decision making, family preservation and reunification, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. Currently, she is principal investigator of the multi-year Program Practices Investigation Project, Office of the Inspector General, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The aim of this project is to inform the development of more effective and ethical practice in child welfare through examination of practices and that result in fatality, serious injury, risk of harm or exploitation of DCFS wards and families. Publications resulting from this work address new uses of causal event/root cause analysis aimed at uncovering multi-level systems factors contributing to adverse outcomes. In addition, they highlight potential solutions for improving the quality of child welfare practice through implementation of high reliability organizing principles.   

Professor Rzepnicki recently served as co-principal investigator of the Scholar Network to Advance Quality Services (SNAQS) funded by the Center for Health Administration Studies (CHAS). The project’s mission was to facilitate interdisciplinary and scientific collaboration for the development of research, educational opportunities, and resources for improving the quality of social services. SNAQS provided the foundation upon which a new project was built.  Professor Rzepnicki is currently co-principal investigator of the Partnership to Advance Quality Services (PAQS) also funded by CHAS. The aim of PAQS is to capitalize upon academic and social service agency partnerships to increase the capacity of organizations to continuously improve their services to vulnerable clients. Seven partnerships drawn from a national pool of applicants were selected to participate in the training and consultation initiative which assists them in creating concrete opportunities for program improvement on a small scale, and reinforces their partnerships for sustainable change.  While it is hoped that PAQS may lead to better service delivery and outcomes, the partnership projects will provide pilot data that might very well lead to larger scale studies. 

Earlier in her career Rzepnicki was co-PI on a large-scale randomized study of family preservation and reunification and co-led another large randomized study that designed and tested strategies for more effective and efficient information gathering and decision making in child protection. Her publications include six books and numerous articles and chapters.

Prior to joining SSA, Professor Rzepnicki was an assistant professor at Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a graduate, cum laude, of DePauw University with a B.A. in Sociology, and received her A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.