Susan Edelstein, the founder and director of UCLA TIES for Families, received an Advocate Award from RaiseAChild.US at its annual gala at the W Hotel in Hollywood on May 19.
Edelstein's work on behalf of foster children and the families who raise them garnered the attention and appreciation of RaiseAChild.US, a national agency that encourages the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to build families through fostering and adoption.
UCLA TIES for Families promotes the successful growth, development and adoption of children with special needs who are in foster care. The program is located on the UCLA campus and works in close collaboration with the public child welfare and mental health systems. The program employs an innovative model of intervention to reduce barriers to the adoption of these children and support their successful transition into permanent homes with stable, nurturing families.
"Susan was one of the early leaders in recognizing that LGBT people are invaluable resources for the struggling U.S. foster care system," said Rich Valenza, the founder and executive director of RaiseAChild.US, whose own family used the services of TIES upon adopting two foster children. "She believed that LGBT people can be, and are, excellent parents."
Services at TIES are available free of charge to foster and adoptive families of children who are placed and referred by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. TIES offers a nine-hour program of preparation for foster and adoptive parents, thorough assessment of individual children, and pre-placement consultation with prospective adoptive parents by a multi-disciplinary team regarding the child's mental health, medical, and educational needs. There is a comprehensive array of intervention services available to children from birth to twenty-one and their families.
Edelstein, who founded TIES in 1995, is a licensed clinical social worker in the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities and an adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA Department of Pediatrics. She began her career in child protective services and adoption in Los Angeles County and in 1979, began her work at UCLA Medical Center directing service, training, and research projects involving interdisciplinary collaboration in the areas of child abuse and neglect, parental chemical dependency and prenatal substance exposure, foster care and adoption, and comprehensive early intervention approaches. She has published extensively in these areas. In 2009, the TIES Transition Model was designated as Community Defined Evidence Based Practice (CDE) by California Institute of Mental Health.