Patricia Cook-Craig is an associate professor at the UNLV School of Public Policy and Leadership in the College of Urban Affairs. Her recent research has focused on the evaluation of violence prevention programming and the role that learning and professional social networks play in shaping individual and organizational outcomes. Cook-Craig has served as the empowerment evaluator for the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs since 2005 providing consultation, evaluation, and training for their violence prevention programming and the evaluator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for the Sexual Violence Prevention Program since 2015. In addition, she has provided consultation related to violence prevention to a number of organizations and coalitions related to interpersonal and sexual violence as well as shelter-based services. Among her recent work, she has served as the co-principal investigator on a five-year CDC-funded randomized control trial study to test the effectiveness a bystander prevention program in reducing dating and sexual violence in a statewide implementation in 26 high schools. Over the past 15 years, Cook-Craig has also examined how professional social networks and organizational learning can be used to facilitate learning among social workers, organizations, and communities of practice in the United States and Israel. Cook-Craig has a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What is your role in the development of The Plan?
I have been coordinating the research efforts at UNLV with a team of colleagues to provide Las Vegas Sands and NPHY with research reports to answer questions that can shape the plan and the efforts moving forward to end youth homelessness. This year our team at UNLV has worked on three research briefs: comparing the challenges and responses to youth homelessness in communities like Las Vegas that have high rates of unaccompanied unsheltered youth who are homeless and communities that have low rates of unaccompanied unsheltered youth who are homeless; a review of the impact of policies on youth homelessness in Nevada; and the cost of youth homelessness in Nevada. I was also a member of the Planning Team that participated in The Plan creation.
Why is it important for you to join The Movement?
I believe a good measure of who we are as a community and a state is how we respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. It is important for me to be in this movement because even one child or young adult living on the streets is too many. I think it is important to use my skills to do whatever I can to try and change the reality that youth are forced to face not having a safe place to live every day.
What do you think is the most important element needed to end youth homelessness?
We are all bystanders to the terrible reality that we have children living on the streets without the resources they need to survive. As bystanders to youth homelessness we have to ask ourselves what we are willing to do. I think the most important element to ending youth homelessness is that each of us, in recognition that youth homelessness is unacceptable, use the skills, resources and influence we have to act to support helping our youth whenever and wherever we can.
What is your hope for youth homelessness?
I hope that we can realize a future when we talk about youth homelessness as a problem that we used to have.