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Graduate Degree:Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree:Yale University
Areas of interest:Low income families and children, race, urban policy and education
Mentor:Elaine Ullian, President of the Boston Medical Center
Agency:Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Supervisor:Pamela Whitney, Family Representative, Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Project Description:Lauren Leiken worked for the Family Representative at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, dividing her time between assessing parent- and family-involvement initiatives and helping with the redesign of intake and assessment policies. The Family Involvement Assessment Project, which is part of the Family Representative’s Action Plan, relied on interviews and an extensive survey to evaluate the various pilot programs underway at the 28 Area Offices in the state. We hope that this project will allow us to (1) gather accurate information regarding the progress of various family-based initiatives; (2) encourage communication and understanding between Central Office and the Area Offices; and (3) focus attention on those initiatives that are determined to be the most effective and successful. The intake and assessment project, renamed as "Right From the Start," also provided Ms. Leiken with an opportunity to work with people throughout the organization to prepare for briefings, a summit, and a long-term plan that will ultimately result in the reinvention of DSS’s intake and assessment policies.