One recent Friday night, a 13-year-old boy spent 14 hours sleeping in a chair in our clinic waiting room. A desperate search was on to find a foster home, group home, a member of his family, someone who would take this boy and provide a safe place for him. Finally, another facility offered to let him wait in their lobby while they identified a place for him to sleep. The nights in our Children’s Village are filled with children who seek safety.
Every night, we average between 12-20 children in our clinic who have suddenly lost their parents or who have left placements or homes where they feel no longer safe or wanted.
Children and youth are entering the DCFS and Children’s Court systems at over 500 children per month and there is a chronic shortage of foster or group homes. In addition, particularly for adolescents, there continues to be an increase in failed placements and runaways. At the same time, more and more commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) are being moved from under Probation to DCFS supervision. This shift, while providing services away from the juvenile justice system, has increased the demand for safe placements and services from DCFS.
In Los Angeles County, there are over 16,000 youth who are no longer living within their nuclear family. VIP is creating short and long-term solutions for the growing number of teenagers in foster care who are lost, abandoned without home, or place of safety and need protection, as well as comprehensive assessments and supportive services.
VIP has built a reputation of creating innovative and sustainable programs that strengthen the social safety net for all children and victims. At this moment, we are building our newest program, the Hope Center for Teens, to focus attention on these high-risk children and to bring together all the services needed to keep them off the streets, identify safe housing, and help them transition into an adult world where they can live independent productive lives.