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SSW faculty work with Uzbekistan task force to develop alternative care programs for children

School faculty are working closely with a task force from the nation of Uzbekistan to help prevent children from being placed inappropriately in residential care, such as orphanages.

The work is part of a larger effort to design new social services programs in the Central Asian nation.

The School recently hosted an Uzbekistan delegation for a series of speakers, tours, discussions and work sessions to address proposed programs to help meet the needs of vulnerable families. The discussions also focused on alternative care options for children and securing the return of institutionalized children to their families.

During the visit, the task force explored issues ranging from the importance of community engagement to the continuum of care (from institutions to family/community self-regulation). Task force members also began to develop a roadmap for collaboration and collective impact, said Gary Nelson, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy; Nelson has led the School’s work with the Uzbekistan officials.

“This first phase will focus on building a common agenda among participants,” Nelson outlined goals for the task force visit. “That agenda will inform the second phase, a proposed in-country effort to design community pilots [programs in Ukbekistan] for a still-emergent child welfare and foster care system.”

The task force expects to launch these pilot programs in January 2020, Nelson added.

During their visit, the Uzbekistan delegation will hear from speakers including Sharon Hirsch (Prevent Child Abuse NC); Lyudmila Kim (Columbia University); Kenneth Kelty (The Arc of the Triangle Inc.); Joel Rosch (Duke University); Martin Burt and Stephanie Manciagli (Poverty Stoplight); and Tamara Norris, Barbara Leach, Linda Kendall Fields and Mark Testa (UNC School of Social Work).

The delegation will also visit model programs offering child and family services, including the East Durham Children’s initiative and the Exchange Family Center, and will spend time with the Vatandosh Uzbek-American Federation.

Adnan Dzumhur of UNC’s Slavic European Studies Center, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, and SSW’s Beth Lowder are among the local collaborators who have worked with Nelson to facilitate the task force’s visit.

Jordan Institute for Families and the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Lab, both at SSW, are hosting the task force’s work sessions in North Carolina.