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Lifting Up LA’s Voice for Kids to Live Trauma-Free by 2050

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Children Now

Children Now will bring together thousands of voices in LA County to promote cross-sector collaboration and demand large-scale change to prevent childhood trauma and reduce its impact on kids.


Please describe your project proposal.

Too many LA children experience frequent traumatic events that can be toxic and lead to a lifetime of physical and emotional challenges. Children Now will bring together thousands of voices in LA County to promote a comprehensive policy agenda to reduce childhood trauma and ensure the needed supports for kids who experience it. The power of these voices will be demonstrated through a public support campaign and advocacy around specific policy changes.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Healthcare access
  • Resilient communities
  • Residents receiving coordinated healthcare services
  • Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences
  • Homelessness
  • Mental illness

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

Traumatic events in a child’s life such as abuse, neglect and neighborhood violence can be toxic and lead to a lifetime of health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression, as well as social consequences such as academic failure, homelessness, victimization, and crime. Too many kids that experience trauma lack the supports and services they need to heal and thrive, are placed into the foster care system or end up arrested or homeless.

In LA County, there are currently 28,000 youth in foster care. In 2013, more than 500 LA County children under age 4 were hospitalized for intentional injuries. In 2014, nearly 7,000 kids under 18 were arrested. And based on state estimates, over 418,400 kids in LA County have had at least two Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in their lives.

The LA community already has the power to address this problem – it just needs to be harnessed and coordinated. Hundreds of LA agencies, organizations, congregations, coalitions, businesses and community leaders serve or support children and want them to grow up trauma-free. There are many promising practices that can prevent trauma, build resilience in kids and heal those that have had ACEs. The problem is that these groups are often disconnected from each other or lack the support to scale what is working.

Children Now will connect all of these groups under our ‘Pro-Kid’ frame to build a strong base of support to achieve scalable change. Our team has decades of relevant experience to develop and advance policy solutions to prevent and address the impact of trauma across early childhood, health care, child welfare, and education systems. We lead The Children’s Movement, a network which includes 385 diverse organizations in LA County dedicated to making kids California’s #1 priority.

To move toward a trauma-free LA for kids by 2050, we will engage Movement members, and hundreds of other groups across early childhood, health, education, and child welfare fields to speak with one united voice for needed policy solutions. We’ll learn from local efforts and leverage our policy knowledge to develop a comprehensive cross-sector agenda that outlines concrete steps to reduce the number of kids, 0-18, who experience the consequences of trauma. These policy changes will include expanding voluntary early childhood home visiting programs, increasing access to mental health services, creating targeted education supports for foster youth, reducing juvenile criminalization, reforming school discipline practices, etc .

We will create a public support campaign to raise awareness about the profound impacts of childhood trauma in LA. We will recruit hundreds of supporters who will be publicly listed to demonstrate the strength of support behind this agenda. It will be used to urge the LA County Board of Supervisors, school districts, and other LA policymakers to take action on the agenda and make real change to make LA the Best Place to Live for kids.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Our ultimate goal is to improve LA kids’ lives by minimizing incidences of trauma and reducing the impact when it occurs. Our success will be measured by the reduction in the number of children who have Adverse Childhood Experiences and the increase in the number of children who have access to the supports and services they need to prevent or heal from trauma, including health coverage and access to mental health services. We will track county-level data over time to see whether our efforts are successful. We already regularly track this kind of data through our California Scorecard of Children’s Wellbeing (http://scorecard.childrennow.org/2014/), and will highlight LA County trauma related indicators.

In the short-term, we will measure success by the size and diversity of the coordinated trauma advocacy network. We will track the number of groups and individuals that join the network and participate in public support campaigns, including sign on statements and communications to policy makers. To measure the impact of the public support campaign, we will track the number of targeted communications that are produced by the advocacy network and for local policymakers, qualitative data on local policy decisions that are made based on our efforts, and traditional and social media produced as well as the reach of those communications.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research