Todd Franke

Trained in social work and educational psychology, Professor Franke seeks to achieve a better understanding of, and improve the responsiveness of service systems in the fields of social services, education and health. Using cognitive theory to better define policy issues related to the integration of these two important fields, Dr. Franke’s research has focused in part on the impact of disability and chronic illness on school-age children. He is currently conducting a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the use of personal assistance services for children with disabilities. In addition, Dr. Franke studies how adolescents solve social problems; urban mobility and its impact on children’s education and social development; and how to successfully integrate health and social services in school settings.

Dr. Franke is active in several local and regional efforts to restructure social services in the schools, helping to conceptualize planning and implementation and the design of evaluation measures in Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest school district. He also serves as a consultant to local school districts for the preparation of funding proposals for Healthy Start, a state program to establish linkages between community social service agencies and schools. HIs primary work occurs at the intersection of youth violence (child welfare and gang involved youth) and education. In these areas he designs and undertakes evaluative research and has obtained over $9 million in research funding over the past 7 years. He is currently the Associate Director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities.

Dr. Franke has been involved with agencies that serve thousands of families representing unique geographic and cultural communities in California, particularly southern California counties. He recently prepared a report for the Los Angeles City Council which examines the measurement issues involved in assessing the success of gang-related and youth development prevention and intervention programs in the city. The link between involvement in the child welfare system and gang involvement is well documented. Dr. Franke is currently the Co-PI of the Best Start LA Initiative which aims to shape, strengthen and support five Los Angeles communities by building resources and providing access to activities that improve the well-being, development and care experienced by pregnant women, parents of newborns and children age 3 and under.

Dr. Franke was also the Principal Investigator for the First 5 LA-funded Partnership for Families Initiative, which is a secondary prevention initiative that is designed to prevent child maltreatment in vulnerable families. Dr. Franke has been the PI for the Small County Initiative, which was designed to systematically examine California’s efforts to build and enhance child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in 11 rural counties in northern California. Additionally, he has numerous years of experience in conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal research in the fields of education, child welfare and adolescent violence.

Contributing to Community and Higher Education Antonia Tu (MSW '73) is giving back to support young Social Welfare students and the community.

By Adeney Zo

After working in social welfare for 10 years and in business the years following, Antonia Tu (MSW ’73) found a new way to give back to the community.

She and her husband, Norman Tu, recently created the Antonia Tu Fellowship in Social Welfare. “I appreciate the opportunities given to me [at Luskin], so I’m trying to do the same thing for students now,” says Tu. “I know that people going into social work are not there to make money, so I want to help them with books and costs.”


Antonia Tu

Kate O’Neal, assistant dean for External Relations, was also involved in the process of creating the fellowship. “When we met, Antonia asked about how she could do something more substantial to give back and support young Social Welfare students,” says O’Neal. “Now every year, a promising student in Social Welfare will receive support in Antonia Tu’s name for their education at UCLA.”

Tu first came to the US as an international student from Hong Kong, going through community college and eventually the UCLA Social Welfare program. Following graduation, she worked in the field of developmental disability for 10 years before starting DCL Corp, a distribution fulfillment business, with her husband in 1982.  She held various executive positions in Human Resources and Operations.  Today DCL is a successful business with locations in Northern and Southern California and Louisville, Kentucky.

“From social work, I learned how to find the right employee and place them in the right position, so the skill set was transferrable,” explains Tu. “I would assess strengths and weaknesses of families and clients, which was later very applicable in business.”

Now retired, the Tu couple give back to their local community through a number of scholarships and donations. They contribute to a scholarship program for Asian high school students with financial need in the Bay Area, as well as a self-help group for the elderly. Tu also sponsors her former community college on an annual basis in addition to the new Social Welfare fellowship program at the Luskin School.

“We’re very active in the community, so I’m still involved in social work, in a way,” says Tu. “This is the beginning of a phase that I hope my children can follow by giving back to the community.”

Todd Franke, Chair of the Social Welfare Department says: “It is extremely gratifying to me to see alumni like Antonia giving back to UCLA Social Welfare, helping our next generation of students to achieve their MSW degree and embark upon rewarding careers in social work.”


Alumni Gather to Remember the Early Days of Social Welfare at UCLA Graduates from the 1950s and 1960s were honored at a luncheon celebration bridging then and now


For some UCLA alumni that gathered at the Faculty Center on Tuesday, being on campus brought up memories of crossing the arroyo bridge to classes in Quonset huts, just part of life as graduate students at the “Southern Branch” of the University of California.

But for the 28 alumni that came for a reunion luncheon, all former students that graduated from UCLA’s School of Social Welfare between 1950 and 1969, the return to Westwood was a chance to see bigger changes that have happened since the early days of the program. Student enrollment of a few dozen has grown to more than 200 students this year. Faculty positions have doubled and then doubled again, from only two tenured professors in the early 1950s to 13 today, with an additional seven field faculty providing experiential training. A focus on clinical practice, or “micro” orientation, has widened to encompass consideration of “macro” issues such as community development and advocacy.

In the face of these changes, however, the department celebration made clear that some things have remained the same. As they sat with current students, staff and members of the faculty, the common threads in the field became evident.

“The school kept saying ‘Don’t focus, be open'” when she was a student, Ruth Sugerman MSW ’67 (above right) said. “Social workers can do so many interesting things. I was really inspired by the school of social work telling me that once I had my degree it was just a start.”

For Sugerman, her UCLA education “was just a wonderful opportunity for me to grow and develop as a social worker and a person.”

Sophia Poster MSW ’52 (below right) agreed. “Everything I learned at UCLA was wonderful to me,” she said. “I was so exhilarated.”

Poster believes that students following her are on a similarly exciting journey. “If you’re inspired to be a social worker it’s one of the greatest experiences you’ll have, dealing with people and their ‘inner self'” she said. “How many of us know the other person in ourselves? A social worker can do that.”

Social work has been taught at UCLA for 67 years, and includes more than 3,300 alumni in master’s and doctoral programs of Social Welfare. Luncheon attendees learned other key facts from Department Chair Todd Franke and UCLA Luskin Dean Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., Second-year student Dawnette Anderson also delivered remarks at the event, sharing her experience as a foster youth and describing her path to graduate study.

To Anderson and her fellow students, Arthur Nelson MSW ’57 offered some straightforward words of encouragement: “There’s a lot that needs to be done in our society. The UCLA Department of Social Welfare prepares you very well for what is ahead of you.”

More photos from the event