Free Arts for Abused or At-Risk Children

Idea by Free Arts

The award would be used to support four core programs—Free Arts Court Program, Free Arts Mentoring, Free Arts for Families and Free Arts Days—free of charge. Each year, Free Arts serves nearly 22,000 children ages 4-18 with the support of over 200 volunteer mentors who donate 14,000 hours. Free Arts works with an art therapist, licensed child psychologist and licensed clinical social worker to create curricula that help children develop mastery, recognize, understand and express their feelings, and cope with the realities of their situation.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Trauma is becoming recognized more and more as a critical problem among children in the United States. Trauma stems not only from childhood abuse, neglect, divorce, family death, and other catastrophes, but also from homelessness and the ravages of poverty. Trauma in children in Los Angeles has reached epidemic proportions, with nearly 28% of children living below the poverty line, 7.6% of children in the foster care system, and 14,000 children living homeless on their own and many more homeless staying temporarily with their families. Over 34,000 children in Los Angeles are under the care of the Department of Child and Family Services as a result.

Art is commonly used to help survivors of trauma. Therapeutic art programs can help restore hope and self-esteem, and give survivors a creative outlet that allows them to heal. Creative arts are an important method of addressing the emotional pain of trauma, providing children with a safe place in which to recover and heal.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Founded in 1977, Free Arts is one of the oldest and most respected agencies serving this vulnerable population in Los Angeles County today. Free Arts was founded by an art therapist who thought doing art with foster children might help them cope with their situation and have a better life. Free Arts programs restore hope and self-esteem in children experiencing trauma from abuse, neglect, homelessness and poverty.

Each year, Free Arts serves nearly 21,000 children per year at Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse and 1,000 more children and families through partnerships with homeless and domestic violence shelters, housing programs, after-school programs, family resource center, Family Preservation programs and other nonprofits serving disadvantaged children.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 22,000

Indirect Impact: 80,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The trauma inflicted on children lasts a lifetime. Research studies have found that the effects of trauma remain in human cells for life, causing myriad ill effects the survivor may never recognize or relate back to their trauma. Adult survivors are 33% more likely to perpetuate abuse on their own children, use drugs, and engage in criminal behavior. Interventions, such as those provided by Free Arts programs, can help survivors avoid lifelong problems of mental illness, addiction, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior and abusive relationships that commonly plague childhood trauma survivors.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Free Arts will serve over 22,000 low-income youth in Los Angeles every year. Free Arts will achieve the following objectives annually:

- Serve 21,000 children through the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court

- Serve 1,000 children and families each year through partnerships with homeless and domestic violence shelters, housing programs, after school programs, family resource centers, Family Preservation Programs, and other nonprofits serving disadvantaged children

- Expand to two new sites: Peace Over Violence and Flintridge Center

- Provide food vouchers for 3,000 children under 12, and 6,000 caregivers, parents, and children over 12 years-old

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Strategy assistance and implementation