The Generational Change Model

Research has shown that the single most important factor for building resiliency in children who face the highest risks is a long-term, consistent relationship with a caring adult.

The Model

We select the children facing the highest risks.

Our children are statistically at serious risk of continuing the cycle of poverty in their own lives.

  • 60% have parents who did not graduate high school.
  • 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated.
  • 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent.


We employ and train salaried, professional mentors called Friends.

Moving mentorship out of the volunteer realm is a key component to getting the quality, consistency and commitment that our children need. Several of our Friends have been with us for 20 years; the average tenure is over 7 years.


We commit for the long term.

We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through graduation. 12.5 years. No matter what.


We focus on the complete transformation of each child.

Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them. We develop a road map for each child and design activities to build life skills. We create meaningful experiences to explore each child’s unique talents and interests.


We work in and with the child's community.

Friends spend time in each child’s home, school, neighborhood, and community. They are able to provide continuity in these often unstable environments and serve as a link between the different facets of the child’s life. This means we advocate for children at their school and become someone their family trusts in emergencies.


We evaluate, measure, and improve.

We are in an ongoing longitudinal randomized control trial conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Washington, Princeton University, and University of Oregon. We are also assessed annually by an independent third-party evaluator. This allows us to continue to identify ways to make our program stronger.

A Friend in Action

It isn't just a job.

We call our professional mentors "Friends" because it isn't just a job. They are forming meaningful relationships with our youth that last for years. This could look like:

  • Helping a child’s math skills by counting successful free throws
  • Helping a child find constructive outlets for stress and frustration
  • Advocating for a special education service at a child's middle school
  • Being the consistent adult in a child's life as they move from placement to placement in the foster care system

Often, the Friend is the only person the family calls when a crisis occurs.


It makes economic sense.


The Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that for every $1 invested in Friends of the Children, the community benefits over $7 in saved social costs. Helping one child saves the community $900,000.

Read more about our Return on Investment

It Works

Program Eligibility

Friends of the Children – Los Angeles (Friends L.A.) pairs children, ages 4-6, of parenting foster youth with a salaried, professional mentor (a Friend) who stays by their side for 12+ years, no matter what. Friends help youth navigate life, building on their personal strengths and empowering families to access the resources available to them. We combine the strength of our long-term relationships with the expertise of community service providers to meet the unique needs of each of our program youth and their families.

  • Friends support parent's hopes and dreams for their children
  • Friends spend time in each child's school, home and community
  • Friends provide 1:1 educational support in and out of the classroom
  • Friends promote social and emotional development
  • Friends help children and families build their social capital
  • Friends link children and families to community resources

Who is eligible

  • Children whose parents were in foster care and are between the ages of 4-6
  • Children who live in Metro (SPA 4), South Los Angeles (SPA 6), or the surrounding Inglewood area.

To refer a child to our program, download and fill out the form available at the link below and email it to Valerie Esquivel, Program Manager, at

Download Referral Form