Every day, high-level policy decisions are made that affect Californians in need. The Center for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a unit within the Center for Human Services, is a partnership between the UC Davis Department of Psychology and UC Davis Extension that helps to bring research evidence to bear on these decisions. Primarily contracted by the California Department of Social Services, CPPR provides much-needed independent research capabilities to state decision makers and other organizations. Several current or recent projects serve to highlight the valuable contribution that CPPR has made to improving public policy in California.

Foster Family Home Rate Structure Review

This study was commissioned by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) in response to a lawsuit filed in 2007 that claimed inadequate rates keep many potential foster parents from taking a child into their home. A recently released report, “Alternative Proposals for a New Foster Family Home Rate Structure in California”, showed current rates were 21-37 percent below the actual cost of caring for a child, depending on the child’s age. The report was based on an extensive review of the current rate structure, an analysis of rate structures and modifications in other states, and a careful consideration of alternative methods proposed by other researchers. Based on CPPR?s report, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled at the end of May 2011 that the State must immediately increase its reimbursement payments to those recommended in the UC Davis study. This CPPR study may impact the statewide decline in the number of foster parents willing to volunteer their time to care for foster children.

National Youth in Transition Database Project

Each year, approximately 4,600 teens leave California?s foster care system, typically with little money, no support and no safety net. What happens next to these young people, most of whom have already suffered greatly? Where do they go? How can we ensure that they have the same opportunities for happiness and success as everyone else? The first step to answering these questions is to find out what the youth themselves have to say about their needs. The National Youth in Transition Database project is a nationwide effort to give foster youth a chance to provide information about their own experiences to improve transition services.

CPPR was contracted by the State of California to survey all youth in the state?s foster care system as they turn 17 years old. This project will provide crucial insight into the experiences of youth who exit foster care and an unprecedented view of the beginning of their adult lives. The information will be central to the development of effective programs and quality support for youth in foster care.

In addition, CPPR is currently working on other research projects, including the development of a screening tool for use with Spanish-speaking adult applicants for Welfare-to-Work programs.

For more information about the Center for Public Policy Research, visit the website at www.cppr.faculty.ucdavis.edu.