Sergio R. Serna

Sergio Serna is a social worker whose interests include forensic social work and public child welfare.  He is committed to working with children and families engaged by the public child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  He is also interested in crossover youth and minority overrepresentation in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

As a field consultant with the California Social Work Education Center program, a statewide program that trains social workers to become professional public child welfare workers, he works with first and second-year students placed in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Prior to joining the field faculty Mr. Serna was a social worker for the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy based at Loyola Law School.  Mr. Serna provided support and mitigation to youth engaged by the juvenile justice system in order to help them navigate probation, detention and reentry.   As part of a holistic team in a legal setting, Mr. Serna helped to interpret the context in which legal problems develop for youth due to poverty, minority membership, educational issues, gang membership, and history of abuse. Mr. Serna was also a therapist at the Children’s Institute, Inc., working with children and families from Koreatown and surrounding areas of Los Angeles.  While there, he provided individual, family and group therapy.  He specialized in children and families suffering from complex trauma due to exposure to domestic violence, sexual abuse and community violence, and worked with adult domestic violence survivors in order to increase their ability to provide support and create a safe environment for their own children. He also lead a program for Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems to assist children who have engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior.  The purpose of the group was to help these children develop alternative behaviors and appropriate boundaries when interacting with others.  As an award recipient of Title IV-E program in California, after receiving his master’s degree he worked in the public child welfare system in both Orange and San Diego Counties to fulfill his commitment to addressing the needs of children exposed to abuse and neglect.

Hector Palencia

Mr. Palencia graduated with a B.A. in English and a Religious Studies minor from the University of California, Irvine. From there he was granted an M.A. in Systematic Theology (with honors) from Berkley’s Graduate Theological Union, with another Masters degree in Social Welfare from U.C.L.A.

Mr. Palencia put his graduate studies to work in the field of gang resistance diversion programs, Mr. Palencia has numerous professional qualifications in addition he has presented on Social Welfare and Gangs, Criminalization of Homelessness, Working with Trauma in Youth, and Gang Round Table Discussions.

Mr. Palencia’s work history demonstrates a compassion borne out of his spiritual endeavors and a capacity for working with marginalized young offenders. He comes to UCLA from El Rancho unified where he served as one of the mental health liaison’s responsible for district wide mental health services which included coordinating services with partnering agencies as well as responding to crisis and working specifically with tier three students. For 4 years, he was with the East Whittier City School District overseeing middle school diversion programs, created partnerships with community agencies to meet needs not being addressed for students, and he became successful in writing numerous grants including the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant initiative. In his career, he has worked in hospice and as drug and alcohol counselor handling at-risk youth case loads.

 

 

Larthia Dunham

Larthia R. Dunham is a field educational consultant and has been a faculty member for over twenty one years, teaching gradu-ate level courses in macro social work. He is also affiliated with the University Consortium for Children and Families (UCCF). As part of Larthia’s community engagements, he offers cross-cultural sensitivity workshops and trainings to agencies working with diverse populations. Larthia is a co-founder of Social Workers Beyond Borders, a non-profit international organization, and is also an active member of the National, State, and Local Chapters of the Association of Black Social Workers and a past President of the Association of Black Social Workers of the greater Los Angeles chapter. Larthia’s passion for international social work has led him to develop Summer Immersion Pro-grams where he has taken students to Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ghana.

Michelle Talley

Michelle Talley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose main area of focus is working with youth and families as it relates to Public Child Welfare. Other areas of interest are issues dealing with domestic violence, substance use, education, and attachment in youth and families.

As a field consultant with the Inter-University Consortium, a collaborative effort of Southern California social work programs that trains social workers in the area of child welfare, Ms. Talley works with first and second-year MSW students placed in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Ms. Talley has also worked as a mental health clinician dealing with children impacted by abuse and neglect within their family nucleus. Most of the children and families worked with were also dealing with substance use/abuse, criminal issues, education, poverty, and mental health issues in which adversely impacted their family dynamics. Ms. Talley has also worked as an adoption social worker with Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. The focus was to locate families and individuals who were interested in providing a permanent home for children in the Child Welfare system.

Laura Alongi Brinderson

Laura Alongi is a licensed clinical social worker whose interests lie in mental health issues with children, adolescents, and their families. She is also interested in parenting education and training, and the early childhood bonding process.

As a field consultant with the California Social Work Education Center program, a statewide program that trains social workers to become professional public child welfare workers, she works with first- and second-year students, and is involved in recruiting promising child welfare candidates.

Alongi has worked as a social worker in community mental health clinics including South Bay Child Guidance, the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, and Aviva Children and Family Services. She worked primarily with emotionally disturbed children and their families, both in individual/family and group modalities. She was also a supervisor for several years, and was involved in program development and administration when she served as a program director for the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.

Currently, she has a small private practice, and provides supervision and consultation to new and unlicensed social workers.

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