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Three Rutgers SPAA Faculty-Led Research Projects Being Funded by the New Jersey State Policy Lab

Three of the 10 research projects recently announced by the New Jersey State Policy Lab are being led by faculty from the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark. After an early summer call for submissions, the policy lab received 28 proposals from all three Rutgers University campuses and four other universities in New Jersey, and decided to fund 10 projects.

The three projects being led by SPAA faculty are:

James Davy
Dr. James Davy

Development of a Policy Portfolio for a Seamless Continuum of Mental Health Services for Justice Involved Individuals

James Davy Distinguished Practitioner in Residence;
Director, Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry (CAAI);
Coordinator, EMPA Program

Dr. James Davy will be using Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) and the Ai summit to develop a transformative system of mental health services for justice involved individuals in New Jersey. Working in collaboration with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation and its Executive Director, former Governor James McGreevey, the project will look to convene stakeholders in a summit to envision and design a seamless continuum of mental health services, identify existing strengths and best practices, co-create a shared vision and evidence-based services, foster collaboration, and improve access for underserved populations. Stakeholders will include key policymakers, criminal justice agencies, including state prisons and county jails, mental health and addiction providers, community organizations, and support networks involved in pre-and-post release services, housing, addiction, treatment, education, and employment training. Through collective efforts, this project aims to improve service delivery and outcomes for this population.


Marilyn Rubin
Dr. Marilyn Rubin

Incorporating Equity into Agency Performance Assessment: Lessons for New Jersey

Marilyn Rubin Distinguished Research Fellow

Dr. Marilyn Rubin's project will produce recommendations on how the State of New Jersey can advance equity for all its residents by incorporating equity considerations into the performance assessment of government agencies. Recommendations will provide agencies with information to use to develop equity measures that consider questions such as how can equity measures help to identify and remedy gaps in access and disparities in performance outcomes across demographic subgroups (e.g., racial groups); and what challenges exist when implementing equity performance measures in a state as diverse as New Jersey. Recommendations will suggest the types of data that agencies should collect as they move forward to include equity in their performance assessment. Because state government agencies follow instructions for funding issued by their central budget office, the project will also identify and synthesize equity-related language used by state government central budget offices in their budget instructions to agencies.


Miyeon Song, PhD
Dr. Miyeon Song

The Role of Quality Ratings in Long-Term Care

Miyeon Song Assistant Professor

Dr. Miyeon Song's project will compare the quality of nursing homes in New Jersey to those in other states and assess how they respond to government quality standards, particularly focusing on the role of the overall five-star quality rating. This project will also examine how nursing home quality ratings influence citizens’ perceptions of the homes and how this information ultimately shapes their choices. By advancing the understanding of quality ratings' influence on facility behaviors and citizens' perceptions, this research can foster a positive cycle of continuous improvement in long-term care, including refining rating systems and enhancing effective public reporting. Additionally, the project will offer policy recommendations for the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) to improve long-term care quality in the state.


About the New Jersey State Policy Lab
In 2021, Rutgers-Newark's School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) partnered with Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick to establish a policy lab for the state of New Jersey via a $1 million award from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher EducationCharles Menifield and Gregory Porumbescu from Rutgers SPAA, and Stuart Shapiro and Andrea Hetling from Bloustein, are leading the initiative which looks to improve the quality of data and evidence used by state policy experts to implement policy and program improvements for New Jersey.