A smarter system starts in Los Angeles

Make no mistake: working families in Los Angeles face countless challenges when trying to get ahead. From skyrocketing rents to the jaw-dropping cost of childcare, families on a budget have difficult choices to make every single day.

That’s what makes organizations like our partners Shields for Families so essential. We recently visited their ASK program in Compton to see what’s working on the ground and how those solutions can be part of California’s statewide plan to end child poverty.

“In this community, there’s this pervasive feeling of hopelessness. So that’s what this program offers people: hope,” said Shields President Dr. Kathryn Icenhower.

How? The key is providing integrated services. Parents who walk through the Shields doors may arrive looking for help with housing, and then discover parenting classes, job training, and childcare right down the hall. It’s all under one roof.

Shields also focuses on helping the whole family in order to help children. Carlos is a working dad who was just completing Shields’ 12-week fatherhood course when we visited, which gives dads emotional support, job training, and a hand navigating complicated bureaucracies. “I feel good about myself now. I had no idea I could fight for my children.”

That positivity and support is a tide that raises all ships. As program manager Reginald Van Appelen said: “When we heal, we teach others to heal. And that trickles down to the children.”

How do we replicate this type of approach statewide? The answer is simple. The Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force is creating a comprehensive, community-first approach to end child poverty. That means creating a smarter, better system where services are streamlined and integrated for working families.

“People suffer in silence because they don’t want to be judged,” John Paul, head of Shields’ job training program said.

It’s time to break the silence. We’re making a plan to end child poverty once and for all. We just 100,000 Californians to demand that our elected leaders put the plan into action. Urge your friends and family to speak out and tell our next governor to put kids first. The future of our state depends on it.



Conway Collis
End Child Poverty in California