Wendy Smith

Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Curriculum Planning and Assessment
Contact Information
University Park
Department of Study 
Children, Youth and Families
PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 1994
MSW, University of California, Los Angeles, 1970
BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1968

WENDY SMITH is associate dean for curriculum planning and assessment and a clinical associate professor. In her role as associate dean, she leads the reaccreditation process, including assessment of student-learning outcomes. She has taught classes on theory and practice with children and families, and on social work practice with transition-age youth. She is a faculty fellow at the university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and has expertise in mentoring in the area of classroom and virtual instruction.

Smith is a member of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families and is active in community organizations, serving on the boards of United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit dedicated to bettering the lives of foster youth, and Venice Family Clinic, where she chairs the behavioral health and child development committee. She is a volunteer advocate with Human Rights Watch, working on juvenile justice issues and serving on the advisory committee of its Children’s Rights Division. She also sits on the board of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and is a founding member of the board of the National Foster Youth Institute. 

A licensed clinical social worker, Smith is the author of Youth Leaving Foster Care: A Developmental, Relationship-Based Approach to Practice (Oxford University Press, 2011), which integrates multidisciplinary research to provide a new approach to working with youth who have been in the foster care system. The book gives a comprehensive overview of the challenges foster care youth face and how their developmental paths affect their needs as they leave the system. Smith’s bio-psycho-social perspective can guide programs, policies and services that will help youth to transition successfully into adult lives. Her relationship-based approach emphasizes understanding attachment experiences and disruptions, as well as the impact of unresolved trauma and loss.

Awards and Distinction
Fellow, USC Center for Excellence in Teaching (2014)
USC Mellon Mentoring Award, Culture of Mentoring Award (2009)
George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Services to Social Welfare, California Social Welfare Archives (2006)
Phi Beta Kappa, English Literature
More awards
Selected Publications

Smith, W. (2011). Youth Leaving Foster Care: A Developmental, Relationship-Based Approach to Practice. Oxford University Press.