The ability to live a productive life – to love, laugh and achieve great things – begins in childhood. Abuse, neglect, family dysfunction, and childhood trauma can derail a child’s potential.
For over 40 years For The Child has strengthened families, prevented the trauma of child abuse, neglect and exposure to violence and helped low-income children and families heal when it has occurred. These are local children. They live in our communities, go to our schools and play with our children and grandchildren.
Prevention and early intervention is critical to helping children lead happy and healthy lives. Many years of support from all sectors of the community allows us to offer professional prevention, education and treatment services for child sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, severe neglect, the impact of witnessing domestic or community violence, the victimization of human trafficking and other adverse childhood experiences. We provide court-based childcare, a 24/7 Child Abuse Response Team, help meet emergency needs and improve the daily lives of at-risk and abused low-income children and vulnerable families.
We believe strong, nurturing and informed families and communities have the greatest ability to keep children safe. We also believe, without regard to poverty and ability to pay, all children who are at-risk or have experienced abuse should be able to get the help they need when they need it. As one of our teen sexual abuse victims explained “you don’t just get over this without help.”
Help is also given to parents suffering from depression, their own trauma histories and other challenges who often struggle to be the best parents they possibly can be. Strengthening families and helping parents overcome their challenges is a critical and integral part of helping children.
For The Child is the product of the merger in July 1996 of Cedar House and Sarah Center. Both Long Beach agencies were founded by the same two visionary social workers, Bobbi Kendig and Clara Lowry, who saw a need for programs that would focus treatment on physical child abuse (Cedar House – 1974) and later sexual abuse (Sarah Center – 1984). In the 90’s, escalating local child abuse rates as well as the increasing severity of abuse created a critical need to expand the circle of safety for area children. The two boards saw an opportunity to serve more children with less overhead by merging the two agencies.
Clinical treatment and work with parents and guardians had been provided for over 20 years. The treatment programs each agency developed were on the cutting edge of child abuse research and well respected by county professionals and local community members. In 1979, Cedar House became the model treatment center for Los Angeles County’s Neighborhood Family Centers. Both agencies had also expanded from their initial treatment focus to delivering prevention programs.
For The Child proudly continues their innovative tradition. Professional treatment services have now been provided for 40+ years. For The Child was among the first to adopt evidence based practices including Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Sarah Center piloted a primary pregnant & parenting teen prevention program in 1989. In 1999 it was chosen by the State Attorney General’s Office to be one of four programs statewide featured in a “Vision of Hope” video on effective community based programs. “Aware Bears” a safety program of young school age children was provided to community schools for over 12 years. Parenting education has been provided with several models for over 30 years. We have been providing in-home family services since 1993.
For The Child was a founder of the Sexual Assault Response Team in our area. FTC staff and volunteers have served as the child’s advocate on the team (see Child Abuse Response Team) – responding 24/7 to area hospitals since 1993 to assist child victims of recent sexual molestation.
In 2002 For The Child developed the first Mobile Treatment Unit in the State of California with a PCIT room. That same year we opened the first Children’s Waiting Room in a Los Angeles County Superior Court (Kids’ Place) that was open to all parents with business before the court. For The Child now operates nine Children’s Waiting Rooms throughout Los Angeles County, keeping children out of adult proceedings that could be traumatic.
FTC has worked to build programs and provide more and enhanced services to meet the needs of children and families. We doubled our operating budget from $2,143,794 in 2006-2007 to over $4 million today. During that time we renovated our two facilities (one leased, the other owned) to accommodate services. We established co-located services at a children’s primary health clinic and a LACO subsidized housing development. Our 10 year old 36’ mobile treatment vehicle was “renovated” with a grant from the L. B. Lions Club.
While direct services were and are always the agency’s main focus, FTC has taken leadership roles in advocating for children, identifying gaps in services and working with others to improve systems of care and community commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect.
Beverly Fancher, Former Executive Director, originated meetings to identify gaps, set standards and develop better collaboration for families and children in Long Beach affected by the overlapping trauma of domestic violence and child abuse. Active in the ecumenical community, she co-authored a handbook on policies and procedures for churches for prevention of child abuse in the church.
At the same time, Dr. Michele Winterstein, then Clinical Director, now Executive Director, was both contributing to and editing the state publication Standards of Care for Child Crime Victims 2001.
For The Child has been a member of End Abuse Long Beach since 1984, serving in various leadership roles and as the custodian of the corporate papers until 2015. End Abuse LB began as the The Long Beach Area Child Trauma Council which was founded in 1975—the first such Council in California and the second in the United States. In 2005, after a 1996 merger of the Child Trauma Council and the Domestic Violence Counsel, the group was renamed End Abuse Long Beach.
The Child participates on many abuse related collaboratives, including the Los Angeles County Child Abduction Task Force, the Long Beach Human Trafficking task force, the Long Beach Child Abuse and Neglect Network, and we convene a Fatal Family Violence Task Force.
When I first became involved with For The Child I was shocked to learn the size and scope of the problems they provided services for. I don’t think the average citizen is aware of the struggles that families are faced with right here in our community. When I saw the success of the work they do and net some of the extraordinarily people there I just had to get involved. If we can help a child and family heal from the effects of violence or abuse society and our community will be much better for it!
Protecting the Innocent. It is the mission of For The Child. No child should ever experience any form of abuse but the reality is that millions of children do. A child that witnesses or experiences abuse is faced with a lifetime of challenges. For The Child provides the tools to help these children break out of the cycle.
Serving on the board of For The Child for over a decade has been an honor. Growing up with a family that is loving and supportive, I took for granted that this was “normal”. Being involved with For The Child has made me aware of how fortunate I am. The work our agency does is hard. The staff is strong, compassionate and tirelessly loving. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of this?