2022 Grants Challenge

Setting Cultural Standards for SUD treatment

Representation matters. Curriculum matters. WE matter. We do the work few others are willing to do.There are huge treatment gaps for BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals seeking treatment. Our mission has been to bridge these gaps with culturally competent treatment through our hiring, training, curriculum and outreach practices.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

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

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Black overdose mortality rates overtook that of White individuals in 2020 for the first time since 1999. Additionally, serious mental illness among the LGBTQ population ages 18-49 has significantly increased compared to rates in 2016.​ Racial minorities, Black Americans in particular, suffer a disproportionate burden of health and social consequences despite often a significantly lower or often equivalent prevalence of substance use disorders. (SAMSHA & Landmark Report from Institute of Medicine.) When they do come to treatment, they leave at a higher rate than that of White individuals due to lack of representation, culturally responsive training, and curriculum that is representative of the unique needs of these communities. As a queer woman of culture in an Executive Level position, it is my responsibility to address these issues and help create a cultural standard of care for those that seek treatment. We need to create safe spaces for our communities to receive it.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Trainings: We have ongoing DEI trainings for our entire staff and monthly trainings to support and reinforce our specialized care. Our clinical staff receives consultations and education around BIPOC and LGBTQ issues. This is reflected in our curriculum. Curriculum: Friendly House creates a “Queer normative” environment where an LGBTQ+ female individual can find healing and hope for a better life. Our program addresses the needs of the LGBTQ+ individual with experiential activities and therapies that are LGBTQ+ and gender specific. We create a safe environment where an LGBTQ+ woman can process her story amongst others who understand and identify with her substance use and history as an LGTBQ+ person. We also have a collective cultural trauma curriculum to address racial trauma and patriarchal stress syndrome. Hiring: Our hiring practices require us to have strong mentorship and supervision programs. Our initiative to hire Queer, Trans, Non-Binary and BIPOC individuals has been successful and has required a strong financial investment from us. Every single Trans individual we have hired has returned to school and they are on their way to be LCSW’s and LMFT’s. We are addressing the need for culturally competent programming and providing individuals with access to leadership opportunities within the treatment field. Fundraising: Hiring a Chief Development Officer to help fund our cause so we can provide equitable treatment regardless of socioeconomic status.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our work has been successful. Our census in 2019 was 83.3 percent Caucasian and 2% black, 2% Latinx. In 2020 our demographic changed to 53.7% Caucasian and 38% black and Latinx. We need to continue bridging the treatment gap with training, updating our curriculum, and providing access to those with fewer resources through scholarship opportunities. We are currently working with consultants to bring anti-racism and equity training to our staff. We’ve hired consultants to help us address needs of LGBTQ+ individuals through activities and therapies that are LGBTQ+. This is so we can competently provide treatment for Trans women. We have incorporated a curriculum that includes treating collective cultural trauma, patriarchal stress syndrome. Our vision to continue to be leaders and advocates for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities and create a cultural standard that other facilities can utilize.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We have been measuring outcomes on demographics, sexual orientation, average length of stay and have an aftercare program that checks on their progress every 30, 60, 90 days, 6 mths, 1 year and 18 months. We have been measuring our impact on residents through client surveys as well. This helps us monitor our progress and how well the changes we’ve implemented have impacted long term recovery. We take feedback on what is working and what is not and build upon that. No one is doing equitable treatment like we are.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 25

Indirect Impact: 100