Jan DeCoursey, AM, is a research scholar within the child welfare research project area at Child Trends. She has over 20 years of experience in research, evaluation, and program operation in the fields of child welfare, transition to adulthood, and youth and adult workforce development. Jan works with programs and systems to build promising and effective practices through technical assistance, formative studies, and outcome studies. She is an expert in implementation and improvement science methods, process and evaluability assessment, and qualitative and mixed methods research. Her current work focuses on program improvement for both the child welfare system and systems serving transition-age youth. As part of her current work, she directs a federal research-to-practice translation center and provides evaluation technical assistance for grantees who are building capacity in community collaborations to prevent child abuse.
Prior to Child Trends, Jan held senior research roles at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and MEF Associates. In her early career, she designed and implemented youth development programs for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and the I Have a Dream Foundation. She began her career as a family educator in a diagnostic home for youth in foster care. Jan is currently active as a court appointed special advocate and is serving her third term as a commissioner for her city’s Commission on Youth. Jan publishes numerous reports and speaks regularly at conferences and convenings on best practice and program improvement in child welfare and the transition to adulthood. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and her BS in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.