News • November 17, 2022

Culture and Justice Lecture to focus on care of children

Culture and Justice Lecture to focus on care of childrenRiverside, Calif. (Nov. 17, 2022) – The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences will hold its next event for the Culture and Justice Lecture Series on Nov. 17.

The lecture will feature Dr. Amanda Hiles Howard, an associate professor of psychology at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She specializes in developmental science, action research and social psychology. Her scholarly work focuses on understanding the effects of adversity on vulnerable children and their families and improving the quality of practice being provided by the communities, organizations, and governments that serve them.

The title of her lecture is “Scaffolded Deinstitutionalization: Successfully Transitioning from Residential to Family Care for Vulnerable Children.” We asked her about the topic.

What will your talk be about?

I will be discussing both the science and policy of deinstitutionalization, which is the process of reforming childcare systems and closing down orphanages and children's institutions, finding new placements for children currently in residential care, and setting up replacement services to support vulnerable families in non-institutional ways. Though there is a strong and consistent call for deinstitutionalization, the process of transitioning from residential to family care is complex and poorly understood.  This talk will focus on the factors that lead to children being placed in residential care, the current state of deinstitutionalization, and best practices for supporting the process of transitioning from residential to family-based models of care.

Why is that topic so important to you?

This topic is important because both science and policy suggest that children develop best in the context of a safe, nurturing, consistent family. Further, the Bible affirms that we were created to live in families.  Yet over 6 million children worldwide live in residential settings, such as orphanages and children's homes. Understanding the impact of institutional care on development and how to best transition institutions from a residential to family models of care is crucial for the long-term success of vulnerable children who are separated from parental care during childhood.

What do you hope the audience gets from the message?

  • Children develop best in safe, nurturing, stable families.
  • Not all children in orphanages are orphans. Indeed, many have surviving parents or other family members, who may be able to care for them with some additional support.
  • Simply closing institutions in not enough. If we want families to be successful, we need to build up replacements services and use a scaffolded approach to deinstitutionalization.

Anything else you would like to add?

Though we discuss deinstitutionalization extensively there is surprisingly little scientific research on this process. To best support families and organizations during this transition, we need to be sure that we are using evidence-based practices. 

Culture and Justice Lecture Series

6 p.m. Nov. 17, Innovators Auditorium

The series invites professionals in the behavioral science and community development related fields to share their experiences with students. They also provide information on current trends, practices and research within their respective professions. Building upon a foundation of over 40 years of behavioral science education in the Inland Empire, CBSS is excited to expand its reach – building bridges between students, community partners and nationally recognized experts.