Partnering for success

Partnering for success

Cal State L.A. joins forces with juvenile court to help youths

Court partnership meeting.

Cal State L.A. Professor Mitchel Eisen (left) meets with Los Angeles County Juvenile Court Judge Emily Stevens (center), Commissioner Marilyn Mackel (right) and representatives from the Department of Children and Family Services at Juvenile Court in November. Representatives of the three agencies meet regularly to discuss the court and University’s partnership, forge new ground in research and develop programs that aid youths in the court.

Cal State L.A. is the only University in the area where students and faculty have all-access passes to research and learn in the hallways of a juvenile court.

The University’s students and professors have been invited into roped-off rooms and handed files withheld from the public, thanks to a 20-year partnership between the University and the L.A. County Juvenile Court.

The CSULA Juvenile Court Partnership has fostered a relationship that creates unique student internship opportunities and results in research that shapes how the court does business and changes lives.

“This partnership has spawned a lot of good collaboration,” said Colleen Friend, the partnership’s director and professor of Communication Disorders at Cal State L.A. “Students are learning to work with faculty, collaborate on research and they hear from professionals who come over from the court and give talks.”

Students and professors from all areas of study, including psychology, political science, education, economics, sociology, anthropology, nursing, social work, criminal justice, communication disorders, and child and family studies have enriched their learning experience through this partnership, Friend says.

Two of the newest hallmark programs in which students and professors are extending their reach into the court are:

  • The Court Scholars Program, which aims to provide foster youths on the University’s campus with an academic and emotional support system for getting through school. As many as 36 students at Cal State L.A. have been identified by University professors and judges, with the help of the Department of Children and Family Services, and have been given access to academic, tutoring and counseling resources on campus and at the court.
  • A tutoring program for youths in the dependency court, called the Homework Project. Cal State L.A. students are volunteering their time as academic tutors at the court’s children law center, so that when area youths are called to court, they don’t get behind on their academic lessons or coursework.

“We are making a little difference where we can,” said Cal State L.A. Psychology Professor Mitchell Eisen, who launched Court Scholars with Judge Emily Stevens this fall.

Bridging the divide between court procedures and education helps heighten the success of Cal State L.A. students, the court and the youths the court serves, Children’s Court Commissioner Marilyn Mackel said.

Of Court Scholars in particular, Mackel adds: “This program says to foster youths and former foster youths – ‘we are here for you – we want your success, and we will do what is necessary to assure you have the resources to achieve your academic goals’.”

For more information about the partnership or to learn how to become involved, visit /academic/hhs/cafvi/.