One main focus of the Initiative for Child and Family Studies is to deepen the connection between Roosevelt University and the surrounding community. We accomplish this goal by facilitating volunteer or service-learning opportunities for Roosevelt University students to connect life and learning, promoting social advocacy on behalf of children, developing brief resources that address the needs of children and families, and sponsoring lectures that focus on children’s well-being.
In concert with Roosevelt University’s historic commitment to social justice and mission to serve as an intellectual resource to the community, the Initiative for Child and Family Studies facilitates students’ efforts to improve the lives of children.
One requirement for the undergraduate concentration in Child and Family Studies is for students to complete a service-learning course (PSYC 398: Field Placement with Children and Families) that features 72 hours of field work at an approved site that caters to children and families (e.g., school classrooms, child care facilities, after-school/YMCA programs, pediatric hospitals).
We promote volunteer opportunities for students who are not enrolled in the concentration program as well. If you are looking for a way to contribute to your community, download our directory of sites that serve children and welcome volunteers here. Internet sites, such as volunteermatch.org, also list opportunities in your neighborhood to volunteer with children (see their listings under Children & Youth and Education & Literacy).
The Initiative for Child and Family Studies is also proud to participate in the President’s Volunteer Service Award program as a Certifying Organization. The Award is a prestigious national honor offered in recognition of volunteer commitment. Established in 2003, this distinction is given by the President of the United States and honors individuals who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to volunteer service for a minimum of 100 hours over the course of 12 months. Students’ service-learning work and related volunteer experiences apply towards this award. For more information about the President’s Volunteer Service Award, visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov. Each Certifying Organization has a Record of Service Key that volunteers must enter into the site. The Record of Service Key for the Initiative is CFJ-29742.
Advocacy and social action
In conjunction with Roosevelt University’s Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, the Initiative for Child and Family Studies promotes students’ involvement in advocacy to promote social change. Students learn that they can make a difference by speaking out to their elected officials and to the media on behalf of children and youth whose voices often are not adequately heard. One illustration of this transformational learning approach is the Students Reducing Youth Violence campaign initiated by Roosevelt undergraduates.
Advocacy on behalf of children often involves students:
- Registering to vote.
- Locating your federal, state, and local elected officials. Find your zip code plus 4 first.
- Writing personalized letters to politicians. Personalized letters and emails (see example) are 10 times more effective than form emails.
- Reaching out to popular media to emphasize the need for action (see example).
- Volunteering (see the opportunities listed above).
Publications and resources
The Initiative for Child and Family Studies publishes a report series called Reaching Out that addresses issues relevant to children’s well-being. These publications synthesize existing research to meet the needs of professionals who work with children.
The first two issues of Reaching Out were distributed to over 11,000 elementary school teachers in the Chicago Public School system and can be downloaded here.
- “Poverty and Children: How Teachers Can Help”
- “Improving Problem Behaviors in Your Classroom”
- “Anti-Bullying” Effective Strategies for Teachers and Schools”
- “Can Your Students Make a Difference in their Community?”
Roosevelt University undergraduates involved in the Students Reducing Youth Violence campaign have also developed Internet audio slide shows to increase awareness about the scope of youth violence. This work on youth violence is also synthesized in the following ICFS publication:
Prusko, M., Serrano, L., Ross, K., Carroll, E., Rutkowski, B., & Meyers, S. A. (2010). Youth violence in Chicago: An intimate look. Chicago: Initiative for Child and Family Studies, Roosevelt University. [Click to preview/purchase information]