Why We Started
The Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) at the University of Minnesota began in 1991. The University president at that time, Nils Hasselmo, appointed the CYFC founders was to ensure that the knowledge and resources of the University did not remain in libraries or office shelves, but were actively put to work to benefit Minnesota's children, youth, and families. It was not designed to be a teaching or research unit, but rather an organization that would serve as a catalyst for research and teaching to be more fully utilized in communities, and for communities to make connections to the University regarding issues of common interest.
An excellent example of this catalytic function was the incubation of the Center for Excellence in Children's Mental Health (CECMH). A program sparked by the expressed need of the community for expertise related to children's mental health, CECMH was launched in 2003 as a part of the President's Initiative on Children, Youth and Families to bring together members of the University community who specialize in children's mental health, and to connect the University to the community and organizations working to promote the mental health of children, their families and communities. Though CECMH is no longer a separate center, its important children's mental health work continues as a central initiative of CYFC.
Originally called "The All University-Community Consortium on Children Youth and Families," and led by founding director Dr. Marti Erickson, CYFC served as a catalyst to create partnerships with community practitioners and University faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines to create discussions and engage communities in identifying and finding solutions to issues facing children and families. Although CYFC has pursued new topics and approaches and has changed leadership (with Dr. Cathy Jordan assuming the directorship in 2004), this has remained CYFC's core purpose.
In the beginning, CYFC was intentionally established as a "stand-alone" unit not under the auspices of any department, school or college, so it would not be connected to any one discipline and could more easily create multi-disciplinary partnerships. In 2009, with its capacity to bridge across campus units, as well as between the University and community, CYFC responded to changes in the University landscape by considering a different administrative model. On July 1, 2010, CYFC joined University of Minnesota Extension, as part of the Extension Center for Family Development.
The missions, guiding principles, and primary functions of CYFC and Extension are well aligned, and there is a particularly close fit with the work of the Extension Center for Family Development. We each ground our work in an ecodevelopmental model of human development, are committed to serving and learning from communities, and share a commitment to the translation of research evidence to enhance the work of practitioners. CYFC's transition to Extension offers numerous advantages and opportunities and we hope to complement and extend each other's work in exciting ways.