Institute for Families in Society

  • Images of IFS past and present employees
  • SINCE 1992

    Improving Policy. Advancing Practice. Strengthening Communities and Family Well-Being.

As a non-partisan, research institute, we are dedicated to improving policy, advancing practice and strengthening families and communities. Together with our partners, we make life better for others through our focus on program and policy evaluation, evidence-based practice, data analytics and innovative data visualizations.


The Institute for Families in Society was created in the 1990s through the interdisciplinary efforts of a task force commissioned by the University of South Carolina. By 1992, the Institute was securely grounded by a generous donation from Cindy and Evan Nord. Working across disciplines and programs, the Institute has conducted research with a variety of partners to reduce child abuse, strengthen and engage families and communities, and improve the health of vulnerable populations.

The mission of the Institute is to use university-community interdisciplinary research and practice as a platform to advance the science of helping families and vulnerable populations.



Recent News

2023 Smith Scholarship Recipient

Sarai Deese, a dual major Psychology BS and Public Health BA student in the Honors college, has been awarded the Smith Scholarship Award for the year 2023. Please join us in congratulating her on this award.

📢 New Publication 📢

Congenital syphilis can cause severe morbidity, including miscarriage and stillbirth. Although preventable with early detection, rates are increasing rapidly within the U.S. Research Professor and Associate Director, Dr. Ana Lopez-De Fede, led IHPR’s collaboration with colleagues at AcademyHealth, and in Kentucky and Louisiana to conduct an analysis examining associations between the odds of prenatal syphilis screening and sexually transmitted infection history or other patient characteristics across 3 states with elevated rates of congenital syphilis. Learn more about this study, its findings and implications in the recently published article in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM.

📢 New Publication 📢

Featured in the latest issue of Esri's ArcNews magazine, IFS showcases the latest innovation of its GeoEScan© with the first release of a web-based product for the Children's Health and Resource Geographic Exploration for Data-Driven Decisions (CHARGED3) project, funded by The Duke Endowment. Read the article in the Spring 2023 issue here.

2021 Billingsley Faculty Award Recipient

Dr. Bobby Donaldson, an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at the University of South Carolina-Columbia was recently awarded the Billingsley Faculty Award for the year 2021.


Voices/Voces is a play in Spanish and English based on interviews conducted with women throughout South Carolina who were covered by Medicaid for pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care. This creative work, funded by the IFS, elevates women’s voices and demonstrates the importance of including women and consumers in shaping responsive and culturally sensitive health care systems. Achieving equitable health care requires including diverse voices in the discussions and decision-making processes that ultimately define policies and programs. The original research was conducted under contract with SC Healthy Connections Medicaid in support of the SC Birth Outcomes Initiative to better understand pregnancy and birth inequities in the context of COVID-19 among women who rely on Medicaid/Emergency Medicaid for their pregnancy-related care. The main findings for that study are summarized in the VOICES/VOCES report available by clicking HERE.

Voices/Voces had a live theatre performance on October 21 and 22, 2021.

Launching CHARGED3 Hub

With Duke Endowment funding, through the project CHARGED3, IFS has launched a resource hub focused on SC’s youngest. The hub showcases the latest Geospatial Environmental Scan© developed by IFS—an interactive research tool designed to explore geographic gaps and patterns in access to children’s health care and available resource programs.

Ana Lopez-De Fede

Donabedian Public Health Award

Dr. Ana Lòpez-De Fede from the college's Institute for Families in Society was recently recognized for her efforts to quality assurance and improvements in health care.