On Tuesday, the Board approved a motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, to develop a three-year pilot program at one of our juvenile camps, Camp Gonzales, that will transform the facility from a detention center into a professional training facility for young people who have come into contact with our foster care or probation systems, or who have experienced homelessness.

The proposed program at the former Camp Gonzales will include free housing, career technical training in the fields of building and construction trades (pre-apprenticeship program) or food service/culinary arts, wrap-around services, life skills training, and guaranteed job placement. It will be the very first program of its kind in the nation.

We know that time spent in incarceration negatively impacts a young person’s confidence and employability and diminishes hope of ever competing in the job market. Across California, young people with low educational achievement, poor home support systems, or criminal histories find themselves stuck in positions where wages and benefits are inadequate for a secure adulthood. This innovative project sets out to address these profound gaps by providing a pathway to gainful employment in a safe and supportive living environment through a new program at Camp Gonzales.

The County is working hard to achieve our vision of providing all our young people with the support and skills they need to set them on a path to success. It will require all of us to work together. I am extremely grateful to our partners in County departments, the community, and in philanthropy who are working together to bring this extraordinary project into being.

The planning for the project has been and will continue to be a collaborative endeavor led by the Los Angeles County Probation Department, working in partnership with the CEO, and the Departments of Mental Health, Education, Public Works, Social Services, Internal Services, Workforce Development, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, County Counsel, Public Health, Children and Family Services, Child Protection, Human Resources, Public Social Services, and the Office of Diversion and Reentry, along with community partners such as New Earth Organization, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

It does indeed take a village!