Girl Reaching for a LeafFor more than 18 years, SHIELDS has helped vulnerable children and families succeed. For families affected by the child welfare system, we provide a full continuum of services—from prevention to adoption. SHIELDS is a leader in the field; our work has deeply influenced Los Angeles’ child-welfare initiatives, policies and procedures. Whether it is protecting a child from harm or supporting a family struggling to stay together, our programs ensure that children grow up in safe, nurturing homes.

Sometimes, all a family needs is a month’s worth of groceries or help finding a job; other times, families in deep crisis are split apart. SHIELDS’ Community Assessment Services Center (CASC) has been providing screening, clinical assessment and referral services to the South Los Angeles community since 1997. Our CASC works closely with a network of contracted substance abuse treatment agencies, mental health providers, and other community based organizations to  provide an entry point for individuals seeking treatment for alcohol and drug treatment, mental health and/or domestic violence services.

We know that child abuse is preventable. That is why we are participating in the Achieving Change Together / Partnerships for Families collaborative, a county-wide child abuse prevention initiative funded by First 5 LA. We serve pregnant women and families with children age 5 or younger who are at the highest risk of child neglect and abuse. These services include intensive case management, emergency food and clothing, medical care and job-placement assistance.

When the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) responds to a crisis, SHIELDS staff works directly with the county’s emergency teams in our POE (Point of Engagement) / UFA (Up-Front Assessments) Program. Our clinical staff assist in DCFS’s assessment of the family home and offer immediate assistance and long-term programs to help keep families together. SHIELDS’ Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT) provides an in-depth assessment of children and families who come into contact with DCFS. High-risk families can receive intensive case management, home visits and other services to reduce the risk of abuse and out-of-home placements through our Family Preservation/Alternative Response Program.  Using a comprehensive, family-strength-based approach, case managers provide home visits and supportive services to strengthen families and prevent abuse. Alternative Response services help lower-risk families stay together by strengthening families and promoting a safe and nurturing environment.

If children must be separated from their parents, SHIELDS is there to help provide children with caring placements and supportive services. SHIELDS offers comprehensive assessments and linkages to resources for children who are in out-of-home placement under DCFS jurisdiction, plus their families and caregivers.

When reunion with parents is impossible, SHIELDS supports the stability and healthy development of children and youth through Adoption Promotion & Support services. We offer individual and family therapy, mentoring, support groups and case management to ensure that children transition smoothly to loving, permanent care.

Because SHIELDS believes in the power of innovation and research, we partnered with DCFS and seven other service providers in South Los Angeles to test and evaluate strategies for preventing child abuse and neglect through the ASK (Ask, Seek, Knock) / PAS (Prevention and Aftercare Services) Program provides six Family Resource Centers located throughout South Los Angeles. Each center offers a continuum of services including linkages, support groups, legal services, educational classes, vocational training, job placement, community libraries and book clubs. Families referred from DCFS, as well as community residents, can access needed resources and services through any of the centers. The program also has a strong evaluation component that we are using to identify the best ways to keep children safe from harm, prevent families from entering and re-entering the county’s health and human services system, and reduce the length of out-of-home-placement.

Finally, since November 2011, SHIELDS has been the lead agency for the Family 1st Program at the Jordan Downs public housing property providing on-site intensive home and center-based services for residents. Family 1st offers residents a one-stop center that provides a continuum of services that assist in enhancing and improving family functioning and well-being. The Family 1st model was designed utilizing the principles and concepts of the Strengthening Families Framework, an evidence-based, cost-effective strategy that increases family strengths, enhances child development and reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect. order to provide the key components, SHIELDS works in collaboration with four core partners and a wide range of community partners that comprise the Community Consortium.