COLLABORATIONS ACROSS UCLA AND WITH EXTERNAL AGENCIES
UCLA looks forward to serving as a collaborative hub in Southern California for launching a strategic focus on prevention – strengthening families so that fewer children are entering the foster care system – and on intervention – enabling young people in the foster care system and other vulnerable youth to thrive and find opportunities for success within our communities.
The Center will serve as a catalyst for more effective collaboration on the UCLA campus and across Los Angeles County, linking UCLA’s work with non-profit agencies, K-12 systems, other educational institutions, government support services, and children and family advocates. The Center will work to develop collaborative and innovative classroom support systems, family support services, and trauma and resiliency – informed care.
RESEARCH STUDIES TO HELP SHAPE PRACTICES AND POLICY
The UCLA Pritzker Center will work to build resilience and wellbeing for youth and families in and out of the child welfare system by developing, analyzing, synthesizing, and advancing innovative, transdisciplinary research developed within UCLA and beyond. Translating research into new practices for educators, for foster youth and foster parents, and for social workers and medical professionals is vital to ensuring children receive the appropriate care. Interdisciplinary teams will pursue a research agenda that includes mental health, education, policy, and the potential for interagency data sharing. Partnering with a major research university with subject-matter expertise across foster youth care ensures new discoveries will be created, evaluated and put into practice in collaboration with community resources and other research organizations. Research grants will be made available to support interdisciplinary research into topics relevant to the care of foster children. Research fellowships will be offered as a way to fuel innovation in schools, family foster agencies, health care systems, the Department of Children and Family Services, and university partners and programs, including UCLA Training, Intervention, Education, and Services (TIES) and the Nathanson Family Resilience Center.
PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION SERVICES
A major focus of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families will be to balance efforts toward both prevention and intervention strategies for children and families. Prevention will emphasize strengthening family resilience so that fewer children enter the foster care system. Intervention will focus on optimizing the services, supports, and opportunities available to children, young people, and their birth, foster, kinship, and/or adoptive families.
TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
The UCLA Pritzker Center will boost capacity for serving youth and families in and out of the child welfare system by developing state-of-the-art training and professional development for youth, parents, and the professionals from multiple fields who serve them. New educational approaches, supports, and models of delivery will prepare professionals for work in this complex but rewarding system; will ensure families and caregivers have the confidence and skills to care for a foster child; and will create pathways to wellbeing and leadership for foster youth. The UCLA Pritzker Center will work within a set of PK-12 schools here in Los Angeles to develop new demonstration models of how educators can support foster youth by empowering them as advocates for their own success. Programs to develop resilience skills will be designed for foster youth, families, and parents. Trans-disciplinary training and professional development for all stakeholders – child welfare professionals, mental health providers, health care providers, educators, the juvenile justice system, lawyers and child advocates, community organizations, and foster family agencies – will help all sectors better serve foster youth and families. Stakeholder involvement in the design of the professional development opportunities will allow the UCLA Pritzker Center to meet the specific needs of each professional sector and enhance their knowledge of this complex system of care.
Online technology and mobile platforms for professional development and parent trainings will be explored as an opportunity. We envision this will provide ways for youth, parents and providers to learn at their own pace and to revisit topics as they emerge.
DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIVE INTERDISCIPLINARY PRACTICES
Many disconnected parts are working to help foster youth and families. A hub for connecting the work of each silo to create virtuous cycles is needed. The UCLA Pritzker Center will transform the lives of children and families by developing synergistic, evidence-based models, tools, and frameworks for collaboration and execution across systems of care. Rather than a collection of disparate parts that cannot easily trade information, the UCLA Pritzker Center will work with government agencies, non-profits, and UCLA experts to develop new ways to improve communications and integrate care to better serve foster youth. By working with policy leaders to inform their decisions, the UCLA Pritzker Center can help to shape a future for foster youth and families to flourish.
DEMONSTRATION OF INNOVATIVE SCHOOL-BASED MODELS
The UCLA Pritzker Center will work within a set of PK-12 schools in Los Angeles to develop new demonstration models of how educators can best support children and families by empowering them as advocates for their own success. Programs to develop resilience skills will be designed for foster youth, families, and teachers.
Schools are the place where foster youth spend the majority of their days, but schools are not always able to optimize collaboration with providers and parents. One of our goals will be to develop innovative ways for educators and parents/caregivers to have a common resource or access point that will link the abilities of each to access and integrate many disparate resources into a coherent path for each child.
CONVENINGS OF STAKEHOLDERS
Look for more information soon on our 2018 convening of leaders, local and national, in the foster youth community.