Institute for Families in Society

  • A handheld tablet lying on a pillow shows Wardlaw College
  • Improving Policy. Advancing Practice. Strengthening Communities and Family Well-Being.

As a 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

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.

2021 Smith Scholarship Recipient

Diana Rizzo, from New York, a senior Public Health major in the Arnold School of Public Health was recently awarded the Smith Scholarship Award for the year 2021.

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.

The Voice of Public Health Award

The Voice of Public Health Award honors South Carolinians for their work in the field. The South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA) recognized IFS staff members for their work outside of IFS with the 2020 Voice of Public Health Award. Dr. Sarah Gareau, along with other cofounders of South Carolinians Reducing the Spread and Impact of COVID-19, was recognized for her advocacy, support and data-driven education efforts through social media. IFS faculty and staff members Debbie Billings and Chloe Rodriguez, along with other members, were recognized for their work providing community-based resources and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President's Coin of Excellence Award

Dr. Ana Lòpez-De Fede, Research Professor and Associate Director of IFS, was recently awarded the President's Coin of Excellence by UofSC President Bob Caslen.