Our Past & Future

Since our founding in 1978, CSSP has been at the forefront of our nation’s most significant reforms in child welfare and family support services, combining rigorous standards for policy analysis and nurturing innovation in communities.

We have partnered with welfare rights organizations, labor unions, and federal, state, and local administrators to push for a fairer welfare reform agenda, based in employment opportunities and the earned income tax credit.

From our origins to where we stand today, social justice and equity has always been at the core of our work.

In the Beginning

Established in 1978 as a policy center at the University of Chicago, CSSP’s primary goal was to influence public policy affecting poor children and families, elderly, and people with disabilities.

Co-Founder Tom Joe was a staunch advocate for federal and state policies that address injustices that affect people’s lives. He envisioned CSSP as a place where policy analysis would reflect real-world knowledge of the intricacies of public sector governance and finance.

Together with Co-Founder Harold Richman, former dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and founder of Chapin Hall Center for Children, they launched CSSP to develop and recommend innovative policy solutions.

Their shared vision was rooted in impatience with the status quo but realism about implementation. Above all, their idea of what CSSP was—and continues to be today—is based on a solid understanding of what families and communities experience and need.

Our Future

As CSSP moves into the next decade, we have identified bold priorities to guide our work. We believe that our collective efforts will dramatically shift our nation toward a more fair, just, and equitable society. Key priorities are:

  • Developing a strong national anti-poverty policy that centers around equity and is supportive of all our areas of work.
  • Ensuring that young children get a great start in life by advancing local early childhood systems and parental leadership.
  • Building public systems that empower youth and link them to opportunities.
  • Connecting LGBTQ+ youth to families and communities.
  • Giving expectant and parenting teens the support and resources they need so they and their children can be successful and thrive.
  • Creating a national child welfare system that is fair, equitable, and effective.
  • Demonstrating that inclusive communities are platforms for economic mobility and affordable, high quality housing.
  • Generating evidence about the power of communities and marginalized people to lead and achieve lasting change.