Connection Award Winner: Nico Trocmé

Nico Trocmé

Nico Trocmé

McGill University

A Voice for Youth

2014 Connection Award winner works to transform child welfare services

For 25 years, McGill University’s Nico Trocmé, winner of the 2014 Connection Award, has been a leading and vocal advocate for youth. He is one of Canada’s top child welfare researchers and a driving force behind the development of innovative knowledge-sharing tools making accessible a wealth of research findings and data used by child advocacy groups and government service providers to better understand and address the needs of the young people in their care. His Connection Award recognizes his outstanding record of effective engagement with, and beyond, the research community.

An innovative and dedicated researcher

Director of McGill’s School of Social Work, and its Philip Fisher Chair in Social Work, Trocmé is an internationally recognized expert in his field. His work is frequently described as cutting-edge, and unique in its use of empirical research to address the management, policy and advocacy needs of community organizations and government agencies.

First Nations children are 12 times more likely to be placed in care than are non-Aboriginal children, Trocmé’s research shows.

Trocmé is the author of a pioneering series of Canadian studies on child abuse, neglect and the placement of children in out-of-home care, spending the first half of his career leading groundbreaking provincial and national child welfare studies. Among his major research contributions is a study showing that First Nations children are 12 times more likely to be placed in care than are non-Aboriginal children. This study remains the only source of national statistics on child welfare services in Canada.

He also led the seminal Canadian Incidence Study and National Outcome Measures; together, these initiatives have been instrumental in developing both new service delivery models and performance evaluation systems for child welfare agencies across the country.

Raising the bar on the standard of care

Today, Trocmé continues to expand the scope of his research so that it can have the greatest impact possible on child welfare policy and practice, urging governments to ensure that young people under their responsibility receive the highest standards of care, rather than the lowest.

As the founding director of the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, Trocmé established the first national network of child welfare researchers and policymakers, and provided seed funding to many, now ongoing, child welfare research initiatives.

Using data collected and analyzed in partnership with First Nations organizations, Trocmé also provided expert testimony at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearings into the systematic underfunding of First Nations child welfare services.

He remains actively involved in supporting research-based child welfare policy and practice. He is currently the senior adviser for Knowledge Integration at Bathshaw Youth and Family Services, as well as co-chair of the Alberta Child Intervention Review. He also provides research and policy advice to the governments of Quebec and Ontario; has presented evidence at several inquiries and inquests; and is a member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Child and Youth Advisory Committee, and of Statistics Canada’s National Statistics Council.

Building research capacity to protect youth

Recently, Trocmé has been leading the development of analytic and knowledge mobilization tools to allow child advocacy groups and government service providers to better understand and address the needs of youth in the child welfare system. His current research project, “Building research capacity with First Nations and mainstream youth protection services in Quebec,” is a SSHRC-funded partnership to understand the dynamics and outcomes of child protection services for both First Nations and non-First Nations children. It brings together researchers affiliated with McGill's Centre for Research on Children and Families and community partners, including four mainstream youth protection agencies, a First Nations youth protection agency, and two province-wide service associations representing mainstream and First Nations service providers.

Working in a field where the social service agencies involved have traditionally had limited formal infrastructure to do their own evaluations, and have historically had little capacity to make the most of existing research, Trocmé has been a long-time proponent of applied research collaboration and evidence-based approaches.

Nico Trocmé has had a profound and lasting impact on the face of child welfare research and practice in Canada. His research and leadership have influenced child welfare decision making across the country. It has led to the restructuring of policies and programs, provided benchmarks by which to measure program impact, and shaped resource allocation decisions.

Throughout his career, Trocmé has ensured that his community-based research is conducted in children's interest, to their benefit and with their input, and has then shared his research findings as widely as possible—principles fully aligned with the spirit of SSHRC’s Connection Award.


Nico Trocmé is director of the School of Social Work and the Philip Fisher Chair in Social Work at McGill University. He is the principal investigator for the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008), the lead researcher for a federal-provincial-territorial initiative to develop a common set of national outcomes measures for child welfare, and he directs the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal. He is currently conducting a research capacity development and knowledge mobilization initiative involving child welfare and Aboriginal service provider agencies in Quebec.

Recognized as one of the most prolific social work researchers in Canada, Trocmé is the author of over 130 scientific publications, has received approximately $25 million in funding through grants and contracts, and has mentored a new generation of Canadian child welfare scholars.

Trocmé has acted as a child welfare policy and program consultant to several provincial governments and Aboriginal organizations, and has presented expert evidence at various inquests and tribunals. Prior to completing his PhD, Trocmé worked for five years as a child welfare and children's mental health social worker.