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January 18, 1999

UC's policy seminar renamed the California Policy Research Center

By Andrea Spurgeon
California Policy Seminar

The California Policy Seminar has been renamed the California Policy Research Center in recognition of its greatly expanded scope of activities and increasing importance as a vehicle for carrying out the University of California's public service mission, said Robert N. Shelton, UC vice provost for research.

The California Policy Research Center (CPRC), which began in 1977 as a small, experimental research program addressing the long-term policy needs of the state, has evolved into a major university policy center, known in California and internationally as a model for fostering interaction among faculty, government officials, and others interested in drawing upon independent academic research in formulating, implementing, and evaluating public policy.

"As policymakers in our ever more populous, diverse, and complex state face extraordinary challenges in the decade ahead, the California Policy Research Center--under its new name and expanded programs--is well positioned to help UC address California's policy concerns far into the future," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson.

The center's ability to assist state policymakers was strengthened significantly in 1998 with the creation of two new broad-ranging research and technical assistance programs.

With a $1 million annual state appropriation to UC, the center has established the Welfare Policy Research Project to support research and evaluation by California scholars on the implementation of welfare reform; develop a clearinghouse for policy-relevant work on welfare policy; and support the creation of the California Census Research Data Center, with sites at UC Berkeley and UCLA, to provide western researchers access to confidential data of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Additionally, at the request of the state legislature, UC allocated funds for the center to establish the California Program on Access to Care (CPAC) in cooperation with the UC Office of Health Affairs. The program is addressing issues related to health care for the state's working poor in light of recent welfare and immigrant policy reforms, paying particular attention to immigrant workers and their families as well as low-income households in agricultural and rural areas.

CPAC is using a variety of tools to achieve its objectives, including a competitive research grants program; development of a database of research experts on health care issues; specially commissioned issue papers; and briefings, workgroups, panels, and other means of disseminating information on policies that affect health care, such as implementation of California's Title XXI Healthy Families Program and changes in Medi-Cal eligibility.

Moreover, CPRC is working closely with schools, departments, and research centers at UC, California State University, and the state's private universities to plan a series of coordinated briefings for legislators, senior staff, and executive branch officials that will draw on the wealth of research expertise found in California's institutions of higher education.

For example, in cooperation with the Assembly Rules Committee, CPRC is cosponsoring, with the School of Public Policy and Social Research at UCLA and the Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley, a series of policy briefings with newly elected members of the state Assembly.

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