June 27, 2024 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Dr. Rachel Birnbaum, Distinguished University Professor Emerita in Social Work and Childhood and Youth Studies, and Dr. Cathy Chovaz,  Professor of Psychology, recipients of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) - Innovation Fund and  Ontario Research Fund – Large Infrastructure Fund (ORF – LIF), have been appointed as Co-Directors of the Research Institute with Children (RIC) . Their appointment marks a significant milestone for the Institute, ensuring enhanced research capabilities, interdisciplinary collaboration, and pioneering advancements. Under the direction of Birnbaum and Chovaz, King’s inaugural Research Institute is set to drive progress in promoting and advocating for children’s well-being and participatory rights.

This project marks the first time King’s has been awarded a CFI Innovation Fund Award. The $421,704 award will facilitate the development of the RIC at King’s. The new institute will be one of the first places in Canada specifically for child-centred approaches to research regarding children’s agency and participation within their families, schools, and communities.

Dr. Chovaz says that the award from CFI and ORF “will place King's at the forefront of children's participatory rights and advance children's well-being.”

Dr. Chovaz and Dr. Birnbaum will serve as project leaders. The project will span until 2026, and be coordinated by King’s, with the funding to be administrated by Western University.

Drs. Chovaz and Birnbaum will lead an interdisciplinary team of highly engaged scholars, clinicians, academics, and practitioners. “Each of the researchers in our group has specific, diverse research agendas that will be supported in the RIC,” says Dr. Chovaz. The team will be involved with children and their families who will engage together in research that will lead to improved socio-economic and psychological outcomes and benefits for children across Canada. “This will be a unique opportunity to be engaged with children about their needs,” says Dr. Birnbaum.  

The RIC will facilitate two research programs, one at King’s and one with schools and agencies to promote child well-being and mental health. Through this work, the RIC will create and test social sciences methodologies and approaches by academic researchers on projects with children more effectively, authentically, and ethically.

For example, this state-of-the-art centre will enable deaf and hard-of-hearing children who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language to participate in accessible research in their own language, in terms of adequate lighting and sight lines, while also respecting the cultural awareness of their unique needs. The RIC will also provide a voice for children who are involved in separation and divorce as well as school-related matters.

“We, along with our colleagues, are very excited and honoured to share our collaboration with and for children,” says Dr. Chovaz.

The CFI Innovation Fund will provide continued investments in infrastructure, across the full spectrum of research. Projects funded through the Innovation Fund help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation while making meaningful contributions to generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits and addressing global challenges. For more information on the Fund, please visit their website.

Additional media coverage
Western News: "Wildlife tracking project receives new Canada Foundation for Innovation funding"
London Free Press: "Kids' voices will be priority at university's new child research centre: Academic"