Khush Cooper Named to L.A. County Commission for Children and Families

Khush Cooper, adjunct assistant professor of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, has been appointed to the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families. The 15-member commission advises the county Board of Supervisors on how to improve the delivery of services to create a safer and more secure future for the region’s most vulnerable families. During her two-year term, Cooper will meet regularly with fellow commissioners to review all county-administered programs providing services to at-risk children, and to seek input from individuals and community groups. In addition to providing guidance on program improvements, they will review legislation dealing with child welfare and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The commission also produces an annual report on the status of children’s services in Los Angeles County, to be distributed and discussed throughout the community. “In addition to supporting the existing strategic focus areas of the commission, such as racial justice and support for transition-aged youth, I intend to lift up community-based strategies for parents of LGBTQ+ youth so that they can fully accept and adequately care for their children and prevent them from becoming embroiled in systems,” Cooper said. “Currently, LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in child welfare and probation systems across the county, state and nation.” Supervisor Lindsey Horvath nominated Cooper to the commission, which is made up of individuals who have deep experience in child welfare. Cooper earned her master and doctorate of social welfare at UCLA Luskin.

Cooper has also been named to a state task force tasked with reforming California’s child welfare policies.


Cooper Joins State Task Force to Reform Child Welfare Policies

UCLA Luskin Social Welfare faculty member Khush Cooper has been named to a new state task force that will develop recommendations for reforming California’s policies mandating the reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect. Research shows that only a small percentage of these reports are confirmed as maltreatment, and that Black, Latino and Indigenous children and families in California are much more likely to be reported and become involved in the child welfare system. The task force was launched to guide the state as it transitions away from a system focused on reporting families to government agencies, and instead prioritizes child safety and family unity by providing robust, culturally appropriate community supports. Working under the auspices of the California Child Welfare Council, the task force will consider several factors, including narrowing the legal definition of “neglect,” reducing racial and socioeconomic bias in mandated reporting, and determining the best way to provide concrete support to families in need. It will produce a report including actionable steps by June 2024. Cooper earned her master and doctorate of social welfare at UCLA Luskin. In addition to her teaching and research, she serves as a consultant to public and private child welfare organizations in areas that include foster care, LGBTQ+ youth and residential treatment.


Toasting Social Welfare’s Diamond Anniversary Alumni, faculty, students and friends gather to celebrate 75 years of advancing justice

The UCLA Luskin Social Welfare family came together May 6 for an evening of festivity and reflection to celebrate a memorable milestone: 75 years since the study of social work began at UCLA in 1947.

Alumni, faculty, staff and friends from across the decades joined current students at the gala event at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, the culmination of a yearlong lineup of special events in honor of the anniversary:

  • A fall gathering of Social Welfare PhD students and doctoral alumni highlighted the research and scholarship aimed at advancing justice in both society and academia.
  • A reception in winter quarter honored the many community groups and agencies that have guided Social Welfare students in field placements over the decades.
  • And a special UCLA Luskin Lecture by Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell put a spotlight on the alleviation of poverty, a key focus of the social welfare discipline.

The importance of field education was underscored at the spring gala with the presentation of the 2023 Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award to Gerardo Laviña MSW ’86. Laviña, the longtime director of field education, is retiring at the end of the academic year. His award was presented by field faculty Larthia Dunham and Laura Alongi MSW ’92.

Adjunct Professor Jorja Leap MSW ’80 emceed the gala, which included a welcome from UCLA Luskin’s interim dean, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, as well as perspectives shared by Laura Abrams, chair of Social Welfare; Rosina Becerra, professor emerita and former dean; current MSW student Elisse Howard; and alumni Stephen Cheung MSW ’07 and Diane Terry MSW ’04 PhD ’12. Adjunct Assistant Professor Khush Cooper MSW ’00 PhD ’10 raised a champagne toast to end the formal program and invite guests to the dance floor.

Read about 75 years of social welfare education at UCLA, including an account of the program’s “finest moment” during the Los Angeles riots.

Read profiles of key figures in UCLA Social Welfare’s history:

  • Rosina Becerra, former dean and professor emerita
  • Jack Rothman, professor emeritus
  • Joe Nunn, professor emeritus
  • Gerry Laviña, director of field education
  • Coming soon: Fernando Torres-Gil, retiring professor of social welfare and public policy

Watch a video celebrating the importance of field education at UCLA

View photos from the gala on Flickr

SW 75th Anniversary Gala

Cooper Sees Wisdom in Children on the Margins

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Khush Cooper spoke about insights she has gained from working with children on the margins during an episode of the podcast Welcome to Humanity. “Children on the margins live at the edge of chaos,” Cooper said. “They understand where families, groups, societies have failed, yet their brains are plastic enough to be able to point to what could be.” Foster youth, for example, “can tell you exactly what family is and what family isn’t,” she said. And the very youngest transgender children, up to age 5, are unburdened by labels but recognize something within themselves that doesn’t match how others perceive them. A willingness to learn from these young voices could help societies find solutions for families in crisis and for persisting inequities such as the gender pay gap, she said. “When children on the margins thrive, they lead us to what’s next for the planet,” Cooper said.