A new center at UCLA aims to address the needs of youth in foster care by conducting research and providing resources to foster youth and their families.
The UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, which launched Tuesday, plans to collaborate with various departments, such as the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Luskin School of Public Affairs to conduct studies on issues related to foster care.
Tyrone Howard, the director, said the center aims to inform more people about existing efforts to support vulnerable youth and foster interdisciplinary collaboration to better help children and their families.
“There are a lot of people on the campus of UCLA, faculty and programs that are already committed to this population, yet we don’t oftentimes galvanize (them),” Howard said. “What we hope the center does is that it brings together people in the areas of law, mental health, education and social welfare, who are all dealing with children who are in vulnerable situations.”
The center will also provide guardians with resources to support children in their care and lead prevention and intervention efforts to lower the number of children entering the child welfare system, Howard said.
Howard said the center also plans to form partnerships between UCLA researchers and other organizations in Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles County Office of Education and community-based organizations, to share resources and strategies to support foster youth.
“Rarely has a university entity had a multidisciplinary approach … to serve children and families in this way that is really tied to the expertise and research that lots of people on our campus are currently engaged in,” he said.
The center is funded by a $10 million donation from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation. The donation also helped establish the Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in Education for Strengthening Children and Families at the Graduate School of Education to provide faculty leadership for the center.
“I feel a pressing need to do the work we need to do for one of the most vexing issues of our time, which is serving vulnerable youth and families in Los Angeles County,” Howard said.