• Health and Well-Being
  • Safety and Resilience

Format: Petcha Kucha 

Children’s Institute is one of the oldest, largest family services and community mental health agencies in Los Angeles, serving over 26,000 children and caregivers annually. The agency offers behavioral health and wellness services, early childhood services, community programming, and a range of programs under the umbrella of Strengthening Families. These programs reflect the Safe Children and Strong Families service delivery model created by the Department of Family and Children Services in Los Angeles County, which is designed to prevent and treat the negative impact of child maltreatment through the provision of strengths-based, family-centered, and community-oriented programming and resources.

During their respective 20x20 presentations, Children’s Institute managers will present on their program areas. They will discuss innovative strategies related to outreach, service delivery, and program implementation for a variety of services, including skill-building programs for youth transitioning out of foster care, adoption promotion and support services, economic well-being and job stability services, prevention and aftercare, family preservation, and developmental screenings/assessments. 

In addition, all Strengthening Families programs have a robust evaluation component, managed by the Research and Evaluation Center (REC) at Children’s Institute. REC will be represented by their director and senior research associate, whose presentations will include dynamic visuals of program outcome data across all the featured programs with active evaluations, including sharing the agency’s annual Impact Report. The research department and program managers work closely together to develop logic models, evaluation protocols, and reports that are meaningful and informative. Best practice for maintaining effective partnerships between program and evaluation teams will be discussed.

Following the 20x20 presentations, we will facilitate a collaborative, hands-on activity designed to further engage participants, followed by a group discussion and opportunity for questions. Through our Pecha Kucha, we hope to spark conversations amongst attendees about practical and innovative strategies that they may implement throughout their own work in social services. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will learn about the Safe Children and Strong Families service delivery continuum developed by Los Angeles County’s Department of Child and Family Services 
  • Attendees will be able to describe at least three program areas under the umbrella of Strengthening Families at Children’s Institute 
  • Attendees will discuss practical and innovative strategies that they may incorporate into their own work in similar programs 


  • Vera Stiefler Johnson, senior research associate, Children's Institute 
  • Amina Jones Fields, director of research and evaluation, Children's Institute 
  • Candy Caceres, behavioral health and wellness program manager, Children’s Institute 
  • Julia Esqueda-Arteaga, clinical program manager, Children’s Institute 
  • Allyson Manumaleuna, family preservation clinical program manager, Children's Institute

Vera Stiefler Johnson
Senior Research Associate
Children's Institute

Vera Stiefler Johnson is the senior research associate at the Research and Evaluation Center (REC) at Children’s Institute. REC is responsible for evaluating programs offered at Children’s Institute, supporting staff and managers with both individual client and program-level reports, and fostering a data-responsive culture within the organization. She received her bachelor of science in applied psychology from New York University in 2015.

Amina Jones Fields
Director of Research and Evaluation
Children's Institute

Amina Jones Fields is responsible for leading Children’s Institute’s Research and Evaluation Center (REC) in the preparation of service delivery and outcome data, management of research projects, and program innovation. She supervises the REC research associates/assistants and provides monthly, quarterly, and annual reports to guide senior staff in data-informed programmatic planning. Fields received her bachelors of arts from Duke University in 1998. She has extensive background as an education researcher, analyst, and consultant. She previously worked as director of education for the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and as research partner at WestEd’s Center for Educational Equity.

Julia Esqueda-Arteaga
Clinical Program Manager
Children’s Institute

Julia Esqueda-Arteaga is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in working with children and families impacted by trauma. With extensive training and experience in the field of clinical psychology and social services, Esqueda-Arteaga has worked with children with a range of socio-emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems at all stages of development. Her pre-doctoral training includes work at Harbor UCLA's Dual Diagnosis Program, Eisner Pediatric Medical Center's Mental Health Department, and at King Drew's Medical Hub. 

Esqueda-Arteaga earned her doctoral degree from California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. She is also a strengthening families clinical programs manager at Children's Institute and is involved in multiple collaborative groups committed to the wellbeing of DCFS involved children and their families. By being raised in the city of Gardena by Mexican immigrant parents, it has enriched her therapeutic work providing her with greater empathy and understanding for the children and parents her teams work with.