UPenn LOVE Statue

Our History


Established in 1999, the Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research was conceived as a means to bring critical reform to the child welfare system by combining the efforts of the multiple fields involved in abused and neglected children’s lives. An interdisciplinary collaboration was formed among the University of Pennsylvania’s Schools of Social Policy & Practice (formerly School of Social Work), Medicine, and Law with faculty experts representing each school in the partnership.

In 2003, the Center was renamed The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research in honor of our founding benefactors, Joseph and Marie Field, and was “dedicated to advancing the day when all children live in safe, nurturing homes and have the opportunity to realize their full potential”. In 2004, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia joined The Field Center as a formal partner, followed by three new partner schools from the University of Pennsylvania joining the collaboration over the next decade.

Today, guided by the Schools of Social Policy & Practice, Law, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Nursing, the Graduate School of Education and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Field Center is a regionally and nationally recognized leader in child welfare reform, responding to the ever-changing needs of the systems that serve marginalized children and families.

The Field Center is profoundly grateful for the contributions of two of our founders, who passed away following their extensive and impactful careers in child welfare.

Learn more about Alan Lerner, former practice professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Field Center co-founder.

Learn more about Richard Gelles, former Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice from 2001 to 2014, Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence and Field Center co-founder.