Child FIRST – Focus on Innovation and Redesign in Systems and Treatment

The Child FIRST Program is a clinical science research laboratory located in Franz Hall on the UCLA campus. It is led by Bruce F. Chorpita, Ph.D., a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. 

Our Mission: We are dedicated to improving the effectiveness of mental health services delivered to youth and their families.

Our Research Strategy: We study innovation in mental health treatment design, clinical decision-making and information-delivery models, and mental health system architecture and processes. We continually strive to discover better ways for mental health providers at all levels to be more effective and more empowered to deliver the highest quality, evidence-based mental health services.

Our Educational Strategy: We train and mentor clinical psychology postdoctoral staff, graduate students, and psychology undergraduates in the principles and methods of clinical science. Our laboratory is designed to help students identify and leverage their unique strengths so as to maximize their personal and professional impact on the quality of mental health for youth and families, whether that be through research, service, innovation, leadership, or industry. We strive to make alumni who will make a difference, in their own way.

Our Service Strategy: We work with industry and community partners around the world to help scale innovative models of clinical care, through talks, training, consultation, and leadership.

Our Values: We aspire to values of equity, compassion, respect, purposefulness, social justice, teamwork, diversity, service, and empiricism. We believe that mental health is a fundamental human right, that children are the best investment in our collective future, and that science should be used to improve public health and build stronger communities.

Where We Work: Nearly all of our research occurs outside of the campus laboratory. We work in the context of long-standing partnerships in public mental health systems, typically in communities experiencing significant adversity, including incomes below the poverty line, high rates of immigration, racism, and inequities in mental health services. Although our research often involves working directly with youth and families, our primary research participants are typically the youth-serving professional therapists of all disciplines and backgrounds who are working to make a difference within these systems.

Our Clinical Focus: Our laboratory does not focus on one specific set of mental health concerns. Rather, we focus on any form of emotional or behavioral health problems for which there is an evidence base. Youth participants in our research over the past two decades have reported primary concerns related to ADHD, anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, conduct problems, and maltreatment.