Restorative Discipline in Texas: Preparing Texas schools to engage in healing dialogue

By Sam La Pres & Kate McKerlie 

At The Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing (TXICFW) we believe that research and practice cannot be viewed as two separate entities. Both must go hand in hand in order to effectively benefit the well-being of child welfare and family security. Our work focuses on transformational research, policy analysis, curriculum development, and program evaluation to foster meaningful solutions for vulnerable populations. We know that we are stronger together, so we partner with organizations that are working towards missions similar to ours.

We are fortunate at UT to have many such organizations to partner with, both in the School of Social Work and in other departments.  For example, this past year we began a collaboration with the Institute for Restorative Justice & Restorative Dialogue (IRJRD) team, led by Marilyn Armour, PhD. to evaluate an implementation of her Restorative Discipline program in Texas.

The Institute for Restorative Justice & Restorative Dialogue seeks to build a national mindset that embraces restorative justice principles. According to the IRJRD website, “Restorative justice is a fast-growing state, national, and international victim-centered response to wrongdoing that gives individuals adversely affected by a criminal act the opportunity to be directly involved in responding to the harm caused by the crime.”  Check out this infographic to learn more about our partnership with IRJRD:

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TXICFW just completed the first round of this project’s evaluation. Follow-up evaluations will occur at the one year and 18-month mark. Results will contribute to the understanding of impact of restorative discipline practices at schools and the areas that need continued support and training in order to be successful. Our Associate Director, Beth Gerlach, is the evaluator in this project, which is just one example of the work that TXICFW does in collaboration with other organizations, such as the IRJRD, in order to foster meaningful solutions for children and their families.