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Social Work Faculty Work With Uzbekistan Task Force to Develop Alternative Care Programs for Children

May 2, 2019
School of Social Work

Faculty members from the UNC School of Social Work are helping a task force from the nation of Uzbekistan to prevent children from being placed inappropriately in residential care, such as orphanages.

From April 29 to May 2, 2019, the school is hosting the task force for a series of speakers, tours, discussions and work sessions to help develop a plan for new social services programs in Uzbekistan. These programs will help meet the needs of vulnerable families, create alternative care options for children and secure the return of institutionalized children to their families.

The task force will explore issues ranging from the importance of community engagement to the continuum of care (from institutions to family and community self-regulation). Task force members will also begin to develop a roadmap for collaboration and collective impact, according to Gary Nelson, who 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 the School of Social Work’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 and Entrepreneurship Lab, both at the School of Social Work, are hosting the task force’s work sessions in North Carolina.

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