The Los Angeles Child Development Center (LACDC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide accessible, free mental health services to children who could otherwise not afford them. These services can help children regain well-being, achieve appropriate developmental milestones and become integrated members of their communities. The LACDC has embraced a movement in the mental health field toward providing children with school-based early identification and intervention, so that mental health challenges can be addressed and resolved before becoming debilitating chronic conditions.
Through our School-based counseling programs we meet children where they are–not in psychotherapists’ offices, but on their school campuses. We work in conjunction with teachers, administrators and parents to help youngsters to better understand themselves, their families and their school communities.
The late Dr. Miriam Williams founded the Center in 1977. It was clear to Dr. Williams that disadvantaged children and their parents could not afford the prohibitive costs of private psychotherapy. The few affordable clinics had long waiting lists and provided only short term assistance. In the early years, Dr. Williams set up a “clinic without walls,” raising funds to pay for children’s treatment in individual therapists’ offices.
Then, in 1990, the Center modified its perspective in order to reach many, many more children. We took our understanding of child development, of psychoanalytic principles and of psycho-social needs and moved our work into a number of school programs. Currently we offer on-site mental health counseling to over 11,000 children in schools in the Los Angeles area and training for school-based psychotherapists in these schools.