Fordham University’s Ravazzin Center, part of its Westchester campus in Harrison, has won a $500,000 grant from the county for its work with the Children and Family Institute.
The Ravazzin Center, established in 1995, will use the grant money to evaluate a care model aimed at reducing the risk of homelessness for children in foster care. The Ravazzin Center is part of Fordham’s Graduate School for Social Service.
Graduate researchers will spend three years evaluating components of the program’s work with homeless youth, including outreach, education, employment opportunities and connections with families and support systems. The research team will also assess a network of peer-to-peer “navigators,” foster-care teens who help other teens navigate the social service system.
“Sometimes youth don’t feel that the professionals understand them,” said Janna Heyman, professor of social work and chair of the Ravazzin Center. “Having a young person that can say, ‘I’ve been there,’ and who can help connect them to professional support and guidance makes a big difference.”
The Ravazzin Center has already spent the last two years studying how Westchester helps its foster-care youth. Its research revealed a gap in communications that led it to try the peer-to-peer approach.
Previous research has also helped identify factors that lead to homelessness, such as how often a child has been moved from home to home.