In a unanimous decision, the Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with the construction of a Child and Family Wellbeing Center at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus. Slated to open in early 2020, the 55,000-sq. ft. facility will house a medical clinic for children who have experienced abuse or are in the foster system, as well as an autism clinic, child psychiatry services, and a Family Justice Center.
“Too often, children and families in challenging situations need to piece together the medical, legal, mental health and social services they need,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “The Child and Family Wellbeing Center will bring these important services together under one roof to make it easier for families in need to get back on track.”
The first floor of the new center will include a Pediatric Hub clinic that will serve as the primary care home for high-risk children. It will replace the existing Pediatric Hub clinic on the MLK Campus, which was constructed in 1974. Los Angeles County’s network of Pediatric Hubs offers a national model for evaluating and addressing the medical needs of children in the foster care system and those who have experienced abuse.
“I am thrilled that advocacy efforts to support our communities have led to the creation of the Child and Family Wellbeing Center on the MLK Campus,” said Fred Leaf, the interim director of the LA County Health Agency. “This new state-of-the-art facility will offer a welcoming and beautiful space where children and families will be able to receive a wide range of high quality health and human services.”
On the second floor, two community organizations – the Special Needs Network and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center – will partner to serve both children in South LA who have autism spectrum disorders, as well as their families. Providers for children with autism are in short supply nationwide, particularly in urban communities.
“This will be a game-changer in the lives of thousands of kids with autism and other developmental needs,” said Areva Martin, president and co-founder of the Special Needs Network. “For too long, kids in South LA have not had access to high quality medical and developmental services in their own community. That changes with the opening of the MLK Child and Family Wellbeing Center.”
On the top floor, a Family Justice Center will provide respite for those experiencing domestic violence and other unsafe situations. There are already two such Centers in LA, one based at the LAC+USC Medical Campus and another in the San Fernando Valley. The new Center at MLK Campus will expand the program to residents in the southern part of the County. Consistent with the Center’s overall theme, the Family Justice Center will offer comprehensive medical, mental health, legal and social services all in one place.
“It is precisely during our moments of greatest challenge when we most need high quality, integrated, and holistic services,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This auspicious new facility will create such a healing environment.”