Nearly one million children are abused, neglected, abandoned or orphaned each year in the U.S.
In any given month, 35,000 children and youth are caught up in the foster care system in Los Angeles County due to abuse, neglect and abandonment. An average foster youth has eight placements before they emancipate out of the DCFS system when they turn 18. One-half of these kids have learning disabilities or developmental delays. Around 50% of those who age out of the system each year will end up homeless, incarcerated, or dead within one year.
The majority of youth who are arrested on prostitution charges in Los Angeles County come from our foster care system. Pimps use child sex workers to recruit other foster children who are living in shelters and foster homes. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-years-old, and the average life expectancy following entry is seven years.
In June 2017, the LA Times reported that there are over 6,000 homeless youth ages 18-24 in Los Angeles, which is a 61% increase from 2016. Around 20-40% come from the LGBT community. The majority of these youth were kicked out of their homes by their parents.
38% of L.A.’s population live in economic hardship. 1.58 million live under the federal poverty limit.
This can lead to homelessness and violence. These kids have a higher rate of absenteeism and school dropouts, which is around 50% in our inner-city schools. Studies show that young adult high school dropouts have lower earnings and higher incarceration rates than their better educated peers. A dropout will end up costing taxpayers around $292,000 over a lifetime due to incarceration and how much less they pay in taxes.
In January 2017, the LA Times reported that there are 63,000 students in Los Angeles County schools who were homeless in 2016 - a 17% increase from the previous year. The estimated graduation rate for homeless students is less than 25%. In addition, 47% of homeless school age children have problems such as anxiety, depression, or withdrawal compared to 18% of other children.
The County and City of Los Angeles are called the “Gang Capital” of the nation with 120,000 gang members and tens of thousands more in surrounding LA County. Gang membership has increased over the last five years due to the lucrative narcotics trade. During the last three years, there were over 16,398 violent gang crimes in the City of Los Angeles, including homicides, felony assaults, robberies and rapes.
L.A. County has the highest juvenile incarceration rate in the entire world, with a recidivism rate of about 85 percent. Around 60% of these kids are in the foster system. It costs taxpayers $233,600 per year to incarcerate one youth.
87% of incarcerated kids have learning disorders. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is more common in juvenile justice youth than in the entire community. Their traumas were caused by having seen or heard someone getting hurt badly or killed, being threatened with a weapon, and being in a situation where they, or someone they were close with, was going to be hurt badly or die.
Left untreated, PTSD can become chronic, with enormous personal and societal costs. In studies that measured therapies for veterans with PTSD, art therapy showed promise as the most effective treatment to reduce immediate symptoms, helping to overcome avoidance and emotional numbing, and facilitating the integration of traumatic memories in ways that weren’t possible with words alone.
Create Now's programs provide essential opportunities for the most troubled youth to heal from trauma, change their lives by building their confidence and self-esteem, and develop skills that can lead to jobs and careers.