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

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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

Debra Duardo Named Social Welfare Alumna of the Year Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and LAUSD Student Health Director, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award

By Joe Luk

Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award, honoring her as the department’s Alumna of the Year. The award will be presented to Duardo in a ceremony on Saturday, April 20.

The Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award recognizes outstanding social work professionals who have contributed leadership and service to the school, university, and/or community, and who have otherwise distinguished themselves through commitment and dedication to a particular area of social work.

Duardo is currently the executive director of student health and human services for Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the United States. As the executive director she is responsible for the administrative oversight of support services and district programs designed to address the physical health, mental health, and home and community barriers that prevent student academic success, including student medical services, school nursing, pupil services, dropout prevention and recovery, school mental health, community partnerships, and Medi-Cal programs.

In this role she manages a $100 million budget and over 3,000 employees including directors, specialists, pupil services and attendance counselors, psychiatric social workers, nurses, organization facilitators, and healthy start coordinators.

After graduating from UCLA with a major in Women Studies and Chicana/o Studies in 1994 Duardo earned her Master of Social Welfare degree at UCLA in 1996 with a specialization in school social work. Since that time she has earned her school administrative credential and is currently completing her Ed.D. in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Following completion of her MSW, Debra started her career serving as a school social worker and the Healthy Start project director at Wilson High School.

She advanced to being the LAUSD Healthy Start District Administrator. Since that time she has served as assistant principal at Le Conte Middle School, the director of dropout prevention and recovery for LAUSD, and director of pupil services for LAUSD.  Through all of these positions she has maintained her focus on the important of health and social services for children and families.

The Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award was established to honor Joseph A. Nunn, former director of field education at the Department of Social Welfare at UCLA. Dr. Nunn brought leadership and service to UCLA and the Social Welfare program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for over two decades. Dr. Nunn received his B.S., M.S.W. and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA. After working as a probation officer for 15 years, he became a member of the field education faculty in 1980, and except for a three-year, off-campus appointment, remained at UCLA until his retirement in 2006. During his last 15 years, he served with distinction as the director of field education and, simultaneous for the last decade, as vice chair of the Department of Social Welfare, where he supervised the field education program.

Nonprofits React to UCLA Report on Their Struggle in Recession A UCLA Center for Civil Society study finds that costs and demands of non profits are rising while funding is diminishing

By Robin Heffler

On Friday, October 23, the UCLA Center for Civil Society in the UCLA School of Public Affairs released a report detailing the mixed impact of the current economic downturn on the local non-profit sector, delivering its findings in person to 185 representatives of non-profit organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, and receiving their immediate feedback.

Among the major findings were that most Los Angeles-area nonprofit organizations have experience reductions in funding from government and private foundations, while costs and demands for their services have risen. Yet the nonprofits largely have been able to retain their volunteers, staff, and programs.

The report, Resilience and Vulnerability: The State of the Nonprofit Sector in Los Angeles , was presented at the Center’s annual conference for local nonprofits, held at the Skirball Cultural Center. Researched and written by David B. Howard and Hyeon Jong Kil (both doctoral researchers in Social Welfare), it was based on a survey of more than 250 non-profit organizations from June to August 2009. There are about 41,500 registered nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles County.

One conference attendee, Abbe Lande of the Saban Free Clinic, echoed the report’s findings when she told other participants, “At every staff meeting we talk about tightening our belts. We keep doing more with less—trying to squeeze in more patients without hiring more staff –and the pressure to produce is intense. We’re seeing more people come in for the first time with incomes of about 200 percent of the poverty level. A lot of it is for mental health services.”

To better weather the recession, the report recommended that nonprofits focus more on program evaluation to better attract funders and make decisions about scarce resources; engage in widespread advocacy efforts, including discussions about policy decisions with elected officials and lawmakers; and collaborate with other nonprofits to decrease costs, increase efficiency, and share knowledge, merging when necessary.

Ted Knoll, who runs the Whittier Area First Day Coalition, which provides services for those who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless, said he appreciated both the “content and process” of the conference. “We did a merger in 2001, so I know this is doable,” he said. “The conference has made me think about possibly doing it again. At the same time, I’m networking with people I haven’t seen in years.”

Conference participants shared their experiences during small-group discussions on the findings. David Howard said that feedback will be included in an addendum to the report. “It helps us to tell a clearer story of what’s happening to nonprofits, which helps deliver messages that often get lost in the numbers,” he said.

In closing remarks, Helmut Anheier, founding director of the Center, said, “We will have a slow recovery for nonprofits. We didn’t learn the lessons from the previous recessions – that you need to prepare for them when times are good. This crisis will push business and nonprofits closer because there is little that the government can offer. Nonprofits will need to make sure that their concerns are part of the political agenda.”

 

 

 

Intervening in Violence: “People Join Gangs Because of a Lethal Absence of Hope” Associate professor Jorja Leap discusses factors that lead to young people joining gangs on radio show

Jorja Leap, adjunct associate professor of social welfare, appeared as a guest on the Howard Gluss radio show to discuss the factors that lead to young people joining gangs.

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Jorja Leap is an expert in crisis intervention and trauma response. Her research examines gangs, prison culture and high-risk and system-involved youth

“So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse,” says Leap. “They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.”

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

GLUSS: We need the facts and then we need an emotional connection to the facts. So give us some of the facts.

LEAP: Well, the facts are, and I’m going to quote Father Greg Boyle here, gangs do not arise and people do not join gangs because of violence, people join gangs because of a lethal absence of hope.

GLUSS: Which is depression.

LEAP: It’s depression, you’re absolutely right. It’s a sense of powerlessness. It’s feeling there are no opportunities, no options, no one who cares. And that’s what it comes from. It comes from depression, and it also comes from, this will come as no surprise to you and I’m sure to other listeners, it also comes from families and communities.

So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse. They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.

And you’ve mentioned that I’ve worked all over the world and one of the commonalities is that when young people and children are raised in violent communities they often have post traumatic stress disorder even as they are growing up and they will join gangs and engage in violent behavior strangely enough in order to feel empowered.

GLUSS: There’s a sense of respect and self esteem with that.

LEAP: Exactly…now you know, for example, I witnessed one very powerful transformation. There are young men and young women who are now being trained, former gang members that are being trained in solar panel installation, a job that with which they can earn a tremendous amount of money. The transformation in them and the sense of control they begin to feel is just astonishing in terms of themselves and their identity.

Listen to the entire interview here.

Dr. Jorja Leap is a professor at UCLA, a recognized expert in crisis intervention and trauma response and has been involved with training and research for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of post-war development and conflict resolution in Bosnia and Kosovo and has conducted work with the families of victims of the 9/11 WTC disaster. She is the author of the book, “No One Knows Their Names.”

Crime Forum Opens in Washington DC: Judge Alm Delivers on HOPE Rosenfield Forum brings together researchers to discuss methods of crime reduction

WASHINGTON, DC—Addressing the record incarceration rates across the U.S. and the boom in the prison population, the UCLA School of Public Affairs launched the first in a series of public discussions on critical national issues with the opening dinner of the Rosenfield Forums at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

“The Rosenfield Forums are an opportunity to bring together some of the country’s best thinkers, practitioners, advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders,” says Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., “This week’s particular event focuses on encouraging all of us to think a little differently about how we reduce crime in the United States. This is an important and deeply corrosive phenomenon: it corrodes the public space, it corrodes our young people, and it crowds our prisons. Much of the worlds of crime and punishment are artificially constructed around these two poles—too much crime and too much incarceration. What you’ll see in this event is scholars grappling with the complexities of these issues, and presenting some elegant solutions—elegant in both simplicity and power.”

The inaugural forum, “Escaping the Prison Trap: How to Have Less Crime and Less Incarceration,” featured a keynote address on October 7 by the Honorable Steve S. Alm of the Hawaii State Judiciary. Alm is the creator of Project HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity and Probation and Enforcement), an innovative crime reduction program for drug offenses that has had dramatic success rates. Judge Alm described a frustrating sentencing and incarceration system that amounted to little more than a revolving door for minor drug offenders to move in and out of the judicial system.

“I can send them to the beach, or send them to prison—it’s crazy that these were the only options.” After gaining cooperation from several agencies, including the probation department, the sheriffs and U.S. marshals, Judge Alm created a systematic approach in which offenders were given instructions for calling a telephone hotline to see if they were selected that day for random drug testing. If they tested positive for drugs, they are arrested on the spot and brought up for a hearing within two days. “Swift and certain consequence is the key.” Says Alm, “If probationers know there will be caught and punished, they will not violate. Probation officers are pleased with the results, because clients were showing up to their appointments, and showing up sober.”

The program has had remarkable success in Hawaii (up to a 50% drop in repeat offenses among drug probationers); has been replicated by other judges; and has become the focus of research by UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman and Pepperdine University Public Policy Professor Angela Hawken. The Department of Justice has funded a program to introduce the program to other jurisdictions across the country.

The Rosenfield Forums continue on October 8 at the Rayburn Building on Capital Hill with panel discussions on: reducing juvenile crime and incarceration, led by Associate Professor Laura Abrams of the Department of Social Welfare; the consequences of mass incarceration, led by Professor Michael Stoll of the Department of Public Policy; and getting more crime control with less punishment, led by Professor Mark Kleiman of the Department of Public Policy.

Challenges for Youth Reentering Society After Incarceration Social Welfare Associate Professor Laura Abrams joined the Howard Gluss Radio Show to discuss juvenile justice and reentry.

laura-abrams_9009188732_o_eLaura Abrams, associate professor of social welfare at UCLA, appeared as a guest on the Howard Gluss radio show (August 14, 2009) to discuss the barriers to successful reentry to society for juveniles in the incarceration system. Abrams is the director of the juvenile justice and reentry project, a program of the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA School of Public Affairs that fosters the reintegration of juvenile offenders into the community upon their release. The following are excerpts from the interview.

What are the major challenges that we face as a society for stopping young people entering the prison system?

“One of the things that it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around when we talk about juvenile offenders is that they are young people…and the majority haven’t committed violent crimes. They’re young people who deserve the opportunity to have a different pathway in their lives.”

“As a community, we think more about the punitive aspect of corrections and juvenile justice and not so much what happens when they return to society and when they transition to adulthood…When youth are get out of settings of incarceration, they’re often in a place where they don’t have school credits, or haven’t graduated from high school, they don’t have job skills, some don’t have families to return to. So they enter that already difficult transitional period of emerging adulthood without many skills or resources necessary to be successful.”

“Research has identified practices in the juvenile justice system that give youth a chance at better outcomes:

  • Diversion, or keeping low-risk offenders out of incarceration (through home arrest or probation);
  • Smaller settings, rather than large institutional settings;
  • Longer treatment duration than (6 months rather than 2 months);
  • Staff trained in therapeutic practices like cognitive behavioral work and family work; and
  • Addressing underlying problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues and learning disabilities.”