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June 28, 2023

Friends LA Secures $13 Million Investment for 3-Year Expansion

The efficacy of our Two-Generation (2Gen) mentorship approach will address the nation's largest foster care population.

Los Angeles, Ca. — Friends of the Children – Los Angeles today announced that the organization had been awarded a groundbreaking $13 million, 3-year expansion contract from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Friends of the Children is the only national mentoring program in the country with paid, professional mentors (called Friends) who walk alongside youth for 12+ years no matter what.

Since its launch in 2017, Friends LA has served nearly 900 children and caregivers in metro Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley. Building on the successful pilot of the model in the Antelope Valley, which effectively prevented any enrolled child from entering the foster care system, this three-year expansion will nearly double the chapter's impact. Focused on preventing child welfare entry for the highest-risk families, the expansion will increase the number of beneficiaries to about 1,700 county-wide.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, known for supporting policies that break the cycle of generational poverty, spearheaded this significant investment from the Department of Mental Health.

"This is an opportunity to expand a model that has proven to be effective in preventing at-risk youth from entering Los Angeles County's foster care system," said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. "I am thrilled that the extension of Los Angeles County's partnership with Friends of the Children will include a focus on Black girls – who are disproportionately represented in our child welfare and justice system. I look forward to the positive outcomes this will have on some of our most vulnerable residents."

The program assigns each child a paid, professional mentor called a Friend, providing consistent, two-generation (2Gen) support from as early as age 4 through high school graduation. Children and families are referred to the program due to their high risk of involvement with the child welfare system.

"This contract reflects the ongoing commitment of the County Board of Supervisors, the Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Children and Family Services to building a prevention continuum that protects and supports the well-being of children and families. We feel a sense of belonging and deep responsibility to this community due to the county's support," said Jorie Das, Executive Director of Friends LA.

Nationwide, Friends of the Children has a proven track record of delivering long-term positive outcomes for the youth they serve. With an impressive 83% high school graduation rate, 92% of their program participants go on to pursue post-secondary education, enlistment, or employment. Furthermore, 93% successfully avoid the juvenile justice system, and 98% wait to parent until after their teen years. These consistent results highlight the organization's dedication to empowering youth at risk and providing them with the resources and support they need to overcome challenges and succeed in life.

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About Friends of the Children - Los Angeles

Friends LA empowers children and families affected by foster care through long-term relationships with a paid, professional mentor for 12+ years, no matter what. Friends LA currently serves children and families throughout LA County, focusing on Service Planning Areas 1, 4, 6, and 8. For more information and to donate, visit friendsla.org.

Media Contact:

Warner Johnston

wj@5borough.us

917-586-1234