When youth come to Peace4Kids for the first time, they've no idea what to expect. They walk through the doors and are welcomed by smiling and warm Peace4Kids volunteers and realize… this is a different kind of place. As one teen shared,
"Random people started coming up to me as if they already knew me."
The main point-of-entry to Peace4Kids is The Core Saturday Program, providing creative and educational courses, field trips, life skills and mentorship opportunities for 300+ youth, ages 4-18 years old. The program takes place at the Watts | Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.
Held each Saturday, this program connects youth in foster care with their peers, with siblings from whom they may have been separated, and with dedicated volunteers in a welcoming environment.
Trained staff and volunteers provide a point of consistency by providing a safe, nurturing environment where youth are given the guidance to learn cooperation, conflict resolution, and build self-esteem. This is accomplished through creative education classes, including cooking, science, creative writing, film, poetry, dance, digital graphics, and other visual and expressive arts.
The Peace4Kids Pop-Up Library offers our youth an opportunity to expand their reading capabilities, literary knowledge and personal libraries. Managed by our librarian, Lizz Matheson and supporting volunteers, the Library Program takes place after lunch at our Core Saturday Program. The goal of the Pop-Up Library is to encourage our youth to engage in developing their writing and reading skills while cultivating a love of literature.
During the library program, our kids choose an age-appropriate book to keep and take home to read. They are also encouraged to do writing and storytelling exercises which upon completion, they are given a small prize of school supplies.
Interested in funding materials or books for our Saturday Program? Donate Today!
To register a youth for our Saturday Program, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peace4Kids Mentor Program links youth in foster care with caring adults who have made long-term commitments to mentorship. Stemming from our philosophy of “community mentoring”, matches are created organically through our Saturday Core Program. Mentoring has long been the single most-requested element from youth.
The Peace4Kids Mentoring Program focuses on the relationship and is an effective way of providing young people with a supportive and enriching experience. Evidence shows that youth mentoring positively impacts the lives of both young people and mentors. Youth who regularly met with Mentors for at least one year:
- 98% stayed in school
- 98% did not become a teen parent
- 98% avoided gang participation
- 85% did not use drugs
The greatest gift to offer a young person is genuine interest in their life and willingness to listen attentively. Click here for a mentoring story
Transitional Youth Services
Providing a far greater depth of service, this program serves youth up to seven days a week, preparing them with invaluable skills as they ready themselves to “age out” of the foster care system. The program provides intensive supports and services that enable youth to access the most basic and vital of community services during the years before and after aging out, and is uniquely positioned to steward these teens into adulthood.
All transitioning youth need better access to physical and mental health services, as well as vocational counseling, transitional housing consultation, and general guidance regarding self-sufficiency. Though these services exist for emancipated youth, these “new adults” do not know how to access them. Trained Peace4Kids Staff and Volunteers, assist youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood by connecting them with these life lines.
Youth also learn basic life skills like finance management and developing of interpersonal skills that will aide them in whatever career path they may choose. The practical realities of finding a home or a job can be a daunting task that is wrought with the potential of crisis and confusion. For this reason, Peace4Kids is on-call 24 hours a day to support.
Leadership Program | Advocacy Movement
The Leadership Program and Advocacy Movement encourages foster youth to inform and engage the community about the child welfare system. We engage in intensive and personal work with current and former foster youth to lead advocacy efforts, empowering other youth to help inform public policy. The Leadership Program is comprised of current and former youth in foster care who lead self-advocacy efforts, plan events, and empower other youth to advocate for themselves, inform others and testify before local and state government agencies.
- In 2009, Peace4Kids was instrumental, through advocacy events and national media coverage, in supporting the passage of AB12, California legislation that extends support for foster youth until the age of 21.
- In 2010, Peace4Kids launched FosterWise, a network of youth leaders who discuss foster care system issues. A key result was participation in the redesign of Youth Development Services, leading Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services to change how it measures success.
- Presently we participate in a Policy Link coalition to address equity issues in California. As the only representative with a foster care focus, our aim is to balance policy agendas with foster care reform objectives.
Bringing Family Meals to Kids in Foster Care
In the midst of a turbulent childhood, the kitchen represents the heart of the home.
"The happiest memories I have as a kid were with my family around the dinner table," says Raquine, a recent LA Kitchen graduate and current Peace4Kids member. Unfortunately, these were fleeting moments for him. In his early teens, after being bounced around from home-to-home, Raquine was left homeless for over a year before finally entering back into the foster care system. These experiences destroyed the idea that food could be a reliable anchor for his happiness.
Our youth realized their dream of creating a community Mobile Kitchen
now we need your support to stock it!
The Mobile Village: Kitchen is a 32’ expandable trailer, designed under the direction of our Board Chair Deborah Richmond. Launched in late November 2015, our teens planned a menu for the P4K Community [250+], cooked the meal with the help of Kitchen Divas, and created a program that highlighted the importance of food and its relevance in the story of foster care. KCRW was there to cover the story.
Peace4Kids is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.