UCLA launches center for disadvantaged youths

Chateff is currently attending a training to help parents take care of
Chateff is currently attending a training to help parents take care of "therapeutic" foster children.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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About 21,000 kids are in Los Angeles County foster care and another 14,000 are in the child welfare system. The odds are often stacked against such children. Ongoing instability at home can make it more difficult to succeed in school and even later in life.

Now, the new UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families is working to apply academic wisdom to help foster youths become thriving adults… Take Two’s A Martinez spoke with the Director of the Pritzker Center, Tyrone Howard.

Interview Highlights

Pulling resources together

It’s about seeing how we can bring together our best effort. The system in the city and the county have been doing really effective work, but the problem still exists and we have a lot of resources here at UCLA where folks are studying and doing research on this topic. We think that collaboration is always a good thing, especially when we can solve and address complex problems. 

Coping with trauma

We have to take a real serious approach to demystify mental health challenges. The issues around trauma are real. We know that youth that are in foster care or have characteristics consistent with foster care suffer from significant mental health challenges. Trauma is oftentimes front and center at that set of circumstances. 

Academic challenges

We know that only three percent of foster youths graduate from college. And we know that this is not because they are not capable but because issues of concentration, memory, and focus are severely compromised when you deal with trauma or homelessness, or stress. So we plan to help practitioners and school leaders with the kinds of supports and the knowledge and strategies and skills to help trauma-informed practices to become a staple in schools all across the country.