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Generous Philanthropy Launches UCLA Center to Support Emotionally Healthy Children

  Generous Philanthropy Launches UCLA Center to Support Emotionally Healthy Children

The team's evidence-based, family-centered anxiety-prevention research will help children and adolescents develop resiliency and emotional health.
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Through an anonymous $10-million gift, UCLA has established the Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES) Center in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The UCLA CARES Center is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of childhood anxiety and to supporting the development of resilient, emotionally healthy children.

Dr. John Piacentini, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and director of the UCLA Child OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, serves as director of the center, and Dr. Patricia Lester (FEL ’00), director of the Nathanson Family Resilience Center, medical director of the UCLA Stress, Trauma and Resilience Service and Jane and Marc Nathanson Chair, is the center’s co-director.

“One-in-eight children in the United States suffers from an anxiety disorder, which places them at increased risk for school and social problems as well as later depression and substance abuse,” Dr. Piacentini says. “By opening the conversation in this area, the UCLA CARES Center will help reduce this burden for affected children and their families.”

The UCLA CARES Center has a multifaceted approach to its mission, with five specific areas of focus: education and prevention, training, innovation, research and public awareness and advocacy. The team will perform research to develop, test and disseminate new school- and community-based strategies for reducing stress and enhancing resilience among children. Based on the team’s findings, the center will advocate for a new standard of best practices in schools, local communities and other systems of healthcare.

“The center is committed to providing educational resources that will help youth, parents, schools, community members and clinicians recognize and address childhood anxiety,” Dr. Lester says. “We already are working with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools in the development of programs that enhance resilience and reduce stress in students and parents, and our website has an array of resources, including coaching videos, a blog and a referral network.”

In addition, CARES has partnered with the UCLA Lab School to pilot a school-wide mindfulness program. The plan is to expand classroom mindfulness programs throughout the city, from preschool through high school. CARES also is working with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools to support the highest-need schools in LAUSD. Focusing first on the Watts neighborhood in South Los Angeles, CARES brings skills-building groups and evidence-based practices to kids and families to boost resilience and decrease stress, trauma and anxiety.

For more information, contact Joe Donahoo at: (310) 853-0563

To learn more, visit the UCLA CARES Center website.


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