In 1980, Para Los Niños was founded with the simple idea of creating a safe space for the children of Skid Row to “just be a kid.” Building on the importance of a healthy, stable home and idea of education as an equalizer, Para Los Niños has since become a leading organization serving thousands in Los Angeles.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Para Los Niños now serves over 6,000 children, youth and families annually across Los Angeles County through seven early education centers, three charter schools, two youth source centers and three mental health offices.
Meet some of our dedicated staff
With more than 400 dedicated staff members, Para Los Niños continues to place education at the core of its work to ensure children and families have the tools, resources and support needed to reach their full potential and thrive.
When you talk to Eddi about his work with Para Los Niños (PLN), he has no shortage of stories and memories to share about the students and families he’s worked with over the past 15 years. He knows about the unique challenges that low-income parents can face when providing for their families, and the struggle students can experience having to navigate a complicated education system, often self-guided as first-generation children whose parents do not speak English. He understands it all because he was once one of those kids.
Stories from our Community
Joseline was first introduced to the Para Los Niños (PLN) family before she could even talk or walk. Her mother placed her in a daycare program at the Salvation Army in front of 9th Street elementary school, where Eddi Ortiz was the supervisor for the after-school program.
For the past four decades, Para Los Niños has worked to create effective, culturally appropriate programs for low-income, primarily Latino children and their families. Drawing on decades-long partnerships in the community, Para Los Niños provides an unmatched comprehensive social services model that incorporates high-quality education, family support and mental health services, parent engagement and community building to families across Greater Los Angeles.
Inspired by a Los Angeles Times article (1979) about the plight of children living on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles, Social Worker Tanya Tull was moved to act, and began to create the first children’s social services agency in the area, Para Los Niños.
A grant of $900,000 from the Weingart Foundation enables Para Los Niños to purchase the original warehouse, and adjacent warehouse and a parking lot/playground. A third warehouse next door is leased — and the new properties are extensively renovated.
The expanded space and financial stability allow for the growth of Para Los Niños services and programing. Expanding to include after-school across over a dozen inner-city schools, and the start of wraparound support for families through a Family Crisis Center serving homeless and those most in need in the Skid Row area.
Para Los Niños continued to grow to address the increasing numbers of children living in poverty; operating the original childcare and development center and a school-age center for kids K-6th grade.
Para Los Niños’ reputation also grew:
- Serving children K-6th grade in their child care center,
- The after school “Latchkey Program” receives major state funding enabling the program to serve 150 children daily at the downtown LAUSD Ninth Street Elementary School.
- The Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Project receives one of nine state-wide grants from the California State Office of Child Abuse Prevention in recognition of the innovative program.
Receiving the largest Family Preservation grant in L.A. County’s history – for our innovative, integrated approach to family support – PLN expanded the Family Resource Center to serve more clients directly and through local non-profit partnerships.
Responding to the needs and demands of the families we serve, Para Los Niños expanded to become a school operator and opened the Charter Elementary School in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles.
Para Los Niños grew to include its first Youth Source Center in East LA. Contracting with the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department to work with youth ages 14-24 on college and career readiness.