For decades, UCLA experts have been actively working to support the needs of our community’s most vulnerable youth. There are more than 200 students on campus who have self-identified as having been in foster care at some point in their lives. There are approximately 50 students who receive the Chafee Grant (indicating that they were in foster care between ages 16-18 and most likely have aged out.) The University has the following resources available on behalf of foster youth in the community and to support former foster youth who are current students at UCLA:
The Bruin Guardian Scholars (BGS) Program was created in 2008 by UCLA and student advocates to help address the unmet needs of current and former foster youth at UCLA. The Guardian Scholars Program was designed to assist former foster youth, focusing on support services for undergraduate and graduate students.
- Community Resources – a listing of Los Angeles-based resources for Foster Youth
- Bruin Guardian Scholars Transitional Housing Resources
The Bruin Guardian Scholars Academy (BGSA) is a partnership with First Star and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). BGSA aims to close the achievement gap of the number of foster youth that graduate from high school and attend college.
A special UCLA summer program just for foster youth who are entering the 9th graders grade, specifically targeting youth in our community and providing students with information about college preparation and interaction with current college students. They live in a UCLA Residence Hall and attend academic workshops. Students must be a current 8th grader and a LA County foster youth with an open DCFS case.
Objective is to create the first program of its kind in the nation that provides both subsidized dental care and a pipeline to the dental profession for UCLA student veterans and/or former foster youth.
TIES For Families
UCLA TIES for Families optimizes the growth and development of children with special needs from birth to age 21 with special needs who are, or have been in foster care, and are in some stage of adoptive or other permanency planning option. The program reduces barriers to permanency for the children by preparing foster and/or adoptive parents countywide, supporting the children and their foster and/or adoptive families with an array of high-quality, accessible, and free comprehensive services. TIES for Families’ interdisciplinary services include comprehensive mental health, pediatric, educational, and speech and language consultation, occupational therapy, youth and parent mentorship, and therapeutic behavioral services to address the wide range of psychological, psychiatric, social, and educational needs presented by children and families.
UCLA TIES for Families also provides training for students, professionals, and community agencies. Based on the promising results, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) implemented a satellite of the project in the South Bay and has designated UCLA TIES as Community Defined Evidence Based Practice. TIES for Families is a collaboration of the Center, the UCLA Psychology Department, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Adoptions Division, the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, and private foundations.
FOCUS on Foster Families is designed to support foster youth and their caregivers. Through candid video interviews and online tools, FOCUS on Foster Families helps users improve their skills related to communication, emotional regulation, problem solving, and goal setting.
The Williams Institute is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. A think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public.
A report entitled “Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Foster Care” by Bianca D.M. Wilson, Khush Cooper, Angel Kastanis, Sheila Nezhad reveals how LGBTQ foster youth are twice as likely to report poor treatment and more likely to live in group homes and to have more foster care placements. Approximately 1 in 5, or 1,400 foster youth in Los Angeles County, home to the nation’s largest population of foster youth, identify as LGBTQ. The finding is twice the estimated percentage of youth not in foster care who are LGBTQ. Generally, LGBTQ foster youth mirror the racial/ethnic demographic of all foster youth in Los Angeles County. The majority are people of color, over 86% are Latino, Black, or API. More than 18% of all respondents reported experiencing discrimination related to their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, some of whom don’t identify as LGBTQ. The percentage of LGBTQ youth who were hospitalized for emotional reasons (13.5%) was nearly triple the percentage of similar hospitalizations for non-LGBTQ youth (4.2%).
The study was funded by the Los Angeles LGBT Center as part of the federal Permanency Innovations Initiative.
The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) Public Child Welfare program was established to increase the availability of professionally trained social workers and child welfare staff in public social services in California. With federal Title IV-E funding, CalSWEC provides stipends for 24 students in the full-time MSW program at UCLA. These students will intern in Child Protective Services and, after graduation, work in any California County CPS setting.
The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) Public Child Welfare program: http://luskin.ucla.edu/programs/calswec-public-child-welfare-program-2/
Research to benefit Foster Youth:
“There are nearly 35,000 young people engaged in the child welfare services system in Los Angeles County, including more than 21,000 in foster care, many of whom are struggling. Issues of race, poverty, and gender all play a role in how children and families seek to navigate complex systems for help and hope. This new Center at UCLA will help us to better understand their needs and enhance and intensify our efforts to ensure their educational and social success and economic security. We are going to work with others in our community to ensure they get the support and services they need, and maybe more importantly, to strengthen children and families in ways that prevent children from entering the foster care system in the first place.”
– Tyrone Howard, PhD, Director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, UCLA Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies