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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.


UCLA, Hebrew University Receive $1.3 Million in Grants for Collaboration to Deter School Violence

Grants from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and an anonymous donor will support a new partnership between UCLA and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem focused on developing school violence prevention strategies that ensure that campuses are safe and welcoming places for children worldwide. The UCLA-HU Collaboration for Safe Schools is a $1.3 million, two-year pilot program connecting university students, scholars and practitioners globally and across disciplines to share research and insights related to the complex underlying causes of school violence. Through exchange programs and conferences held on each campus, the partnership will bring top U.S. and Israeli scholars together with K-12 educators, administrators and social workers; policymakers and experts in law and criminology; and graduate and undergraduate students focused on fields related to social education. The first conference, to be held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, will focus on how to ensure safety at schools in areas that are experiencing extreme strife at the political and social levels. Recruitment of partnering research teams at Hebrew University and UCLA will begin in the fall of 2023. The program will operate under the leadership of two internationally recognized experts in school safety: Ron Avi Astor, UCLA professor of social welfare and education, has worked with thousands of schools to reduce victimization of students in a career spanning three decades. Mona Khoury-Kassabri, chair of Hebrew University’s school of social work and social welfare, is also the university’s vice president of strategy and diversity. 

Read the full story

Read the January 2023 Luskin Forum story about Astor’s work


Advancing Climate Policy in an Era of Deeply Partisan Politics

In a deeply polarized political environment, Americans are more divided on climate change than ever before. Yet three recent developments could advance climate policy, despite partisan politics, according to a new article in the journal Political Science & Politics co-authored by UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation faculty director Megan Mullin and Patrick J. Egan of New York University:

  • Partisan cohesion and Democratic initiative. The Republican and Democratic parties have become more unified internally. While Republicans are less concerned about climate change than ever before, growing cohesion among Democrats, both among elected officials and members of the public, has elevated climate change as a party priority and increased their willingness to take electoral risks to address it.
  • Clean-energy expansion in Republican states. Even though decision-makers in Republican-led states have backpedaled on support for clean energy, those states are leaders in clean-energy production. Nearly 40% of U.S. renewable energy is situated in the Republican-led states of Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, suggesting that markets can overcome politics in the transition to a clean-energy economy.
  • Partisan distribution of climate impacts. Heavily Republican areas may suffer disproportionately from the worst effects of climate change. Mullin and Egan bring together maps of climate risk with county voting records to show that Republican counties have higher percentages of properties at severe or extreme risk from flooding and fire over the next 30 years. This may inspire partisan voters to demand political action by their elected officials.

Read the full story, and find related research on the Center for Innovation’s Climate Adaptation and Resilience webpage.


Report Finds Equity Gaps in L.A. Tech Sector

A new study led by UCLA Luskin Public Policy faculty member Jasmine Hill analyzes the diversity of 2022 venture capital investments in Greater Los Angeles. Released today, the report assesses investments made by 75 venture capital firms that are members of the PledgeLA initiative, which prioritizes equitable access to capital. Hill’s research team determined that less than one-third of the firms’ investments in 2022 went to companies led by women, Black or Latino founders, and these companies received only 4.6% ($6.4 billion) of the $139 billion invested. However, venture capital firms led by underrepresented minorities and those with a diversity thesis were almost twice as likely to back Latino and women founders and four times more likely to invest in Black founders. “Los Angeles has long surpassed the portfolio diversity typical of venture capital on the national level,” Hill said, “but there is a considerable journey ahead before PledgeLA firms reflect the region’s diversity.” The research team, which used a cross-section of data to create a holistic view of the Los Angeles tech ecosystem, included master of public policy student Sydney Smanpongse and public affairs major June Paniouchkine from the Luskin School and UCLA master of economics student Joleen Chiu. The report was commissioned by PledgeLA, launched by the Annenberg Foundation and the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles to measurably increase diversity, equity and community engagement in the tech sector. In June, PledgeLA announced a new regional goal called “50 in 5,” which seeks to drive 50% of all venture investments to companies led by women, Black and Latino founders by 2028.

Read the full report

Read the PledgeLA news release


New Book by Fairlie Reveals Risks and Rewards of the U.S. Startup Economy

A new book co-authored by Robert Fairlie, chair of Public Policy at UCLA Luskin, provides a broad view of entrepreneurship that challenges the assumption that startup companies in the United States create jobs and power economic growth. Federal, state and local governments spend billions of dollars each year on incubators, loan programs, tax breaks and investor incentives to encourage the formation of job-creating businesses, yet these expenditures are often made without knowing whether they lead to lasting, decent-paying jobs. In “The Promise and Peril of Entrepreneurship: Job Creation and Survival Among US Startups,” published by MIT Press, Fairlie and co-authors Zachary Kroff, Javier Miranda and Nikolas Zolas use a comprehensive new data set to provide clarity. Their findings show that startup job creation and survival rates are much lower than those typically reported by federal sources. Official statistics indicate that each startup creates six new jobs on average, and 50% of startups survive up to five years. However, those numbers reflect only new businesses that have employees, not the millions of startups that launch without employees every year, the authors found. “Understanding the early-stage dynamics of entrepreneurship is important,” they write. “Starting a business is difficult, with many potential barriers and risks,” including the legal requirements and resources needed to hire employees. The authors also explore who owns startups, focusing on differences by race and ethnicity and documenting how some minority groups face significant barriers to entrepreneurship. Fairlie’s book is among five recently getting capsule reviews by the Financial Times, which lauds its use of reliably sourced data and says it will “help those seeking to nurture an entrepreneurial culture themselves: the policymakers, academics, incubator operators and business degree students.”

UCLA Scholars Earn Contract to Re-Envision Care for Young People in the Juvenile Legal System

Two UCLA professors will help California create standards of care for young people moved to county-run programs after the closure of the statewide juvenile prison system. With a three-year, $1 million contract from California Health & Human Services’ new state Office of Youth and Community Restoration, Laura Abrams of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare and Elizabeth Barnert of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine will help design a program called Stepping Home. Its aim is to provide a suite of services and support for youth held accountable for serious crimes so that they may successfully rejoin their communities as thriving young adults. “We are working as consultants to the state to create and implement a more ideal, less harmful youth justice system,” said Barnert, who specializes in pediatrics. A state law enacted in 2020 led to the closure of California’s troubled juvenile corrections facilities, with hundreds of young people moved to their home counties to join camps, ranches and other supervised living arrangements. During this transition and into the future, Stepping Home will provide a framework of care that prioritizes community safety and creates an environment of healing, accountability and rehabilitation. Services will include physical and mental health care, educational and vocational programs, life skills training and gang intervention. The program will also promote evidence-based assessment tools for judges, probation officers, behavioral health providers, educators and community leaders so that they can partner with young people and their families to design effective individualized plans. Abrams and Barnert are longtime research collaborators whose work was recognized with a UCLA Public Impact Research Award in 2022.



Levy-Storms Receives Award to Create Community-Engaged Course on Aging

Lené Levy-Storms, associate professor of social welfare and geriatrics, is one of four UCLA faculty members selected to develop new classes that have an impact on Los Angeles and beyond, thanks to the fourth annual Chancellor’s Awards for Community-Engaged Scholars program. Levy-Storms will use the $10,000 award to develop “Frontiers in Human Aging: Biomedical, Psychosocial and Policy Perspectives,” a core course for the UCLA Luskin gerontology minor. The class will explore human aging through several disciplines: biology, physiology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health and policy. Levy-Storms will add a formal community engagement aspect focused on intergenerational interactions aimed at shattering ageism. “Students will learn things in this course that will be helpful for the rest of their and their families’ and friends’ lives,” Levy-Storms said. “My vision for the future is not just young students learning about older adults, but rather different generations relating to and communicating with one another, learning how to help each other thrive in whatever life stage they are — together.” Supported by the UCLA Office of the Chancellor and the UCLA Center for Community Engagement, the awards enable faculty members to enrich the university’s curriculum through courses featuring collaborative learning experiences with community partners. This year’s awards will lead to new classes offered during the 2024-25 or 2025-26 academic calendar.

Read the full story


Fairlie’s Research Cited in White House Briefing on Tribal Small Businesses

A new policy briefing from the White House cites research by Robert Fairlie, professor of policy and economics. On June 26, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first small-business grants in a program to provide $73 million in first-ever funding directly to tribal governments. The support for tribal enterprises and small businesses is part of Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which includes funding for manufacturing and infrastructure, plus cost-saving investments in communities across the country. Research relating to racial inequality in business by Fairlie, the incoming chair of UCLA Luskin Public Policy, is widely recognized as insightful by policymakers. The White House fact sheet cites his calculation that the number of Native-owned small businesses declined 40% in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant awardees include several tribes in California.


Public Policy Again Proves Its Mastery of All Things Trivial

Back under a tent on the Public Affairs Building’s roof after a three-year pandemic-related displacement, the June 1 battle of useless knowledge and quick-wittedness known as Super Quiz Bowl ended with a team from UCLA Luskin Public Policy again on top of the leader board. Just one point separated the top two groups, as five teams representing two graduate departments and the undergraduate program faced off against each other and a sixth team staffed by, um, staff. Here are the highlights from a post-event email sent to participants by organizer Christian Zarate, events and communications coordinator:

And the winners are … (drumroll please):

Team Competition

3rd Place: Street Smarties (Jin Zhang, Purva Kapshikar, Olivia Arena, Nick Stewart-Bloch, Adam Millard-Ball), Urban Planning

2nd Place: Brain Trust (Molly Hunt, Dinan Guan, Raquel Jackson-Stone, Donald Zelaya, Maura O’Neill), Public Policy

1st Place: Doing it for the Clout – for the second year in a row! (Abhilasha Bhola, Connie Kwong, Selene Betancourt, Jesse Ostroff, Mark Peterson), Public Policy

Hien McKnight won the individual competition this year on behalf of the Dean’s Office.

The winning graduate programs will receive funding for their Grad Night. The undergraduate program will receive funding for its Public Affairs Experiential Learning Internship Support scholarship. Again this year, funding was based on participation: 50% of the Super Quiz Bowl proceeds will be divided among the three departments that participated. Urban Planning took Audience Attendance, with Public Policy winning the other categories of Faculty/Staff/Alumni Attendance and Team Participation.

View photos from the event (and get inspired for next year’s competition) in this Flickr album:

Super Quiz Bowl 2023


Loya’s Research on Mortgage Disparities Bolstered by New LPPI Study

A new study released by the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute finds that racial disparities persist in homeownership within Los Angeles County. The report, part of a larger research project led by UCLA Luskin Assistant Professor of Urban Planning José Loya, is based on an analysis of pre-pandemic data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. It reveals that despite anti-discrimination laws and regulations, households of color continue to face significant barriers to accessing low-cost mortgage credit, hindering their path to homeownership and exacerbating a racial wealth gap. The report highlights the central role of homeownership in wealth creation in the United States and emphasizes how limited access impacts households of color. The report’s author is Miguel Miguel, an urban planning student who is among a group of first-generation Latino scholars at LPPI helping to provide a more nuanced understanding of the housing market and the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on racial disparities. Loya recently received two awards from LPPI that will support continuing research efforts aimed at improving the well-being of the country’s Latino population. “Dr. Loya’s research is a salient reminder that homeownership is not an option for the majority of Latinos because our creditworthiness is not equally valued by financial markets,” said Silvia R. González, a director of research at LPPI.