Our Children LA (OCLA) is a Los Angeles nonprofit organization formed to use mobile-centric communication and web-based resources to raise regional awareness and offer support for improving the life conditions for local children and youth under 25 with a unique emphasis on those who are underserved and at-risk.
The Need OCLA Seeks to Address: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth ages 12-25.
Children and youth represent the economic and political future of our region and they deserve careful attention and increased community support.
OCLA's founders believe that fostering a shared vision, improving regional dialogue, and facilitating community engagement is needed to break traditional barriers and encourage diverse communities to work together more closely to benefit homeless youth. Programs shall be designed to encourage the region to support systems change and increase investments in policy and programming that benefit children and youth.
The Needs of Homeless Youth
Homelessness, defined as lacking a "fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence" is a critical issue facing thousands of Los Angeles area children and youth. Without timely and appropriate interventions, these youth can suffer serious mental and physical health problems. They are more likely to attempt suicide, engage in risky behaviors, face jail time, be sexually exploited and become parents before they are ready. Well-meaning policymakers and community members have responded to the crisis with compassion and hard work, yet accessing the web of mental health programs, social work programs, probation programs, housing programs, food banks and shelters can be so complicated that many youth fail to seek or obtain needed supports.
Our Children LA offers an easy to use mobile application and website, a "one-stop shop” with the communication integration tools designed to empower youth to connect to needed providers and to facilitate community dialogue aimed at developing a comprehensive approach to end youth homelessness.
The Objectives of Our Children LA
Recognizing that over 70% of homeless youth use a smartphone or computers at libraries or other computer centers, Our Children LA provides web-based resources to help unaccompanied youth find the supports they need to survive, especially those most vulnerable to poor life outcomes due to disease, disability, abandonment, neglect, abuse, poverty, trauma and adverse environmental conditions.
- Our Children LA will offer the mobile and internet-based technological methods to connect vulnerable children and youth to available support systems.
- Our Children LA will use technologies that are responsive to the needs of children and youth, low-barrier and accessible, and easy-to-use.
- Our Children LA will strive to use tools that support ongoing efforts by providers and community-based systems to serve vulnerable children and youth.
- Our Children LA will build and maintain a free and accessible website to provide information to advocates, policymakers, nonprofits, foundations, and citizens on best practices and resources available to address youth homelessness.