Frequently Asked Questions


Who does SHIELDS help?

SHIELDS helps anyone requiring or desiring social services to improve the conditions of their lives and the lives of their families. SHIELDS serves 7,000 individuals, children, and families annually. Most clients live in or near South Los Angeles, however we do not turn anyone away if you live in another area because we can work to see if you qualify for our programs or we can link you to services closer to your area.

How do I enroll in your programs?

Call SHIELDS at # (323) 242 – 5000 x1200 and the operator can help you. Or, visit our SERVICES Page to find a program that fits your needs and call them directly.

What makes SHIELDS unique?

  • SHIELDS programs have received multiple awards and recognition for their successful outcomes, including the C. Everett Koop Award, the International Athena Ward and special recognition from the Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • SHIELDS programs have also been cited as best-practice models for women and children by the California State Legislature, the California State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the Children’s Defense Fund, the California Institute of Mental Health, the Abandoned Infants Association, and the National Health Policy Institute
  • SHIELDS has been recognized in special reports by the Washington Health Foundation, the National Economic Development and Law Center, the Little Hoover Commission and the Rockefeller Foundation for our innovative and effective models of service
  • SHIELDS partnered with Cal State University Dominguez Hills campus, the Master of Social Work (MSW) program to provide an accelerated MSW degree for our employees and collaborative partners, many of whom are from the South Los Angeles communities we serve
  • Our work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, on Vh1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, on BET’s First In, on the CBS series “Kate Brasher,” the news shows “Life Moments” and “48 Hours,” and through other local news and television coverage, including CNN.
  • Our programs have been replicated in Alaska, California Kentucky, and Oklahoma and studied internationally
  • The same women that started SHIELDS 25+ years ago are still running the agency together today!
  • Obama’s White House Office of National Drug Control & Policy visited SHIELDS to learn about our innovative way of providing treatment to the whole family which they in turn recognized as one of the key factors to include in the national model for treatment
  • One of only 10 agencies in the nation to receive the Department of Labor grant for working with the “re-entry” population – helping to advocate against the mass incarceration of men and women, particularly of color, through mentorship, training, and development of living wage jobs for ex-offenders
  • Chosen by the community to provide services on-site at Jordan Downs Housing Projects to enhance and strengthen children, families, and the community overall alongside the upcoming redevelopment of “the projects”
  • Many of our staff are former clients who once were hard core drug addicts, gang members, and criminals that after graduating SHIELDS were reunified with their children, went on to pursue Master’s Degrees, broke the cycles of addiction, poverty, abuse, and homelessness to come back and be employed by SHIELDS to help other people/families like them
  • SHIELDS saved LA County millions of dollars through their innovative restructuring of how child welfare services were delivered through the UFA/POE model – reducing foster care placements in Compton by 50% within the first year of implementation. This model is now being rolled out County-wide
  • Our programs incorporate the client voice through a Client Council Board for each program, which reports monthly to the Executive Director their strengths, barriers, and ideas for their program. This creates opportunity for clients to learn Leadership and Advocacy skills and have ownership over their own recovery and service-delivery.

How can I get involved?

Can I donate to SHIELDS?

Absolutely! For donation opportunities contact

Financial Contributions: Monetary donations always help supplement our funding so we can expand our services or improve our administration to better serve our community. Donations can be made on our DONATE Page or you can contact

In-Kind Donations: We take almost anything as long as it is in good condition (clothing, household goods, office supplies, and more). You can drop them off directly to any program site or to our administration building 11601 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90047

Do you have any positions available?

SHIELDS continues to grow every year. For internship and job opportunities visit our JOIN US Page


What is SHIELDS for Families?

SHIELDS for Families is a community-based 501c3 non-profit organization located in South Los Angeles serving individuals, children, and families through comprehensive and collaborative social services for child and youth development, child welfare, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and supportive services such as food, transportation, housing, legal services, and educational and vocational training.

To learn more about SHIELDS visit our ABOUT US page

What is your mission, vision & values?

To develop, deliver and evaluate culturally sensitive, comprehensive service models that empower and advocate for high-risk families in South Los Angeles

Believing, Building, Becoming…Believing in our families that the can overcome whatever challenges they face. Building a foundation of hope that our families can acquire the skills and support needed to accomplish their goals. Becoming empowered…as proud individuals, nurturing parents, and productive members of the community.


  • Promote family reunification and support families remaining intact in the community
  • Strengthen families through the provision of comprehensive and collaborative services
  • Improve the general well-being of families through comprehensive health programs and preventative social services
  • Encourage self-sufficiency and economic independence


To learn more about SHIELDS visit our ABOUT US page

What does SHIELDS mean?

We provide a safety net of programs and supportive services that help families protect – or “shield” – themselves and their children from negative factors.

What is the history of SHIELDS?

Full of hope, three women banded together to put an end to this epidemic and created SHIELDS for Families. Although Kathryn Icenhower, Xylina Bean, and Norma Mtume came from different backgrounds, they shared the belief that they could help shape the future. And they have.

For more information see our About Us page.

Where is SHIELDS located?

SHIELDS programs are operated out of 16 different offices across the South Los Angeles area (including Compton, Watts, Willowbrook, Long Beach, Lynwood, and Athens Park) in addition to being located on-site in many schools in the Compton, Dominguez Hills, and Los Angeles School Districts, and in the Edelman’s Children’s Court.

For general inquiries visit our CONTACT US Page

For a complete listing of our office locations click HERE or search for a specific program site by visiting our SERVICES Page

Who is the Executive Director?

Kathryn Icenhower has a doctorate in social work and is the co-founder and Executive Director of SHIELDS for Families.

You can learn more about Kathryn here.


What are SHIELDS' goals?

  • Promote family reunification and support families remaining intact in the community
  • Strengthen families through the provision of comprehensive and collaborative services
  • Improve the general well being of families through comprehensive health programs and preventive social services
  • Promote self sufficiency and economic independence

What kinds of services does SHIELDS offer?

SHIELDS provides comprehensive social services for child and youth development, child welfare, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and supportive services such as food, transportation, housing, legal services, and educational and vocational training.

Our services vary based on the specific program needs/requirements but in general we offer:
Case management, outpatient mental health, outpatient substance abuse treatment, non-traditional residential substance abuse treatment, assessments, in-home outreach, family preservation, support services, resource linkages, individual, group, and family therapy, mentoring, support groups, legal services, GED/High School Equivalency classes, child development, early childhood education, youth development, therapeutic nursery, health education, parenting, school-based mental health services, psychiatric services, probation services, prevention-intervention-and wraparound services, co-occuring disorders, dual-diagnosis treatment, homeless services, perinatal care, advocacy, children’s court, drug court, relapse prevention, aftercare, training, and more…

For more specific services appropriate to a particular program visit our SERVICES Page

What programs does SHIELDS have?

  • ACT Program (a Partnership for Families – PFF – Initiative)
  • Administration (IT, Accounting, Development, HR, and more)
  • Adoption Promotion & Support Services (APSS)
  • Aftercare
  • ARK
  • ASK (Prevention and Aftercare Services) – PAS)
  • CalWORKs
  • CalWORKs Homeless Families Project
  • Child Development
  • Clinical Training
  • Community Assessment Services Center
  • Eden
  • Educational and Vocational Services Center
  • Exodus
  • Family 1st Program at Jordan Downs Housing Projects
  • Family Preservation
  • Food Services
  • Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
  • Genesis
  • GROW
  • Healthy Start
  • Heros & Sheros Youth Development
  • Housing
  • Home Visitation Program
  • HUB Outpatient Mental Health Clinic
  • Immunization Project
  • Jericho Vocational Services Center (JVSC)
  • Mt. Carmel
  • Multi-Disciplinary Assessment Team (MAT)
  • Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST)
  • Place of Family
  • Point of Engagement (POE) / Up-Front Assessments (UFA)
  • Revelation
  • School-Based Mental Health
  • Supportive Housing
  • Therapeutic Nursery
  • Transportation
  • Welcome Baby

How many children and families does SHIELDS help?

  • SHIELDS serves more than 5,000 families and their children each year
  • More than 3,600 vulnerable children are protected from harm each year.

Who do you serve?

The ethnicity of our clients reflects the population of our service communities.

  • Average family is a single mother with 3-4 children
  • 50% Latino; 45% African American; 5% other
  • 50% of parents are employed upon completion of a SHIELDS’ program, thanks in part to the assistance we provide
  • 100% of children are at risk of neglect or abuse
  • 75% of our families represent single-parent households, which tend to have lower income and higher levels of stress.
  • With an average annual income between $5000 and $10,000, nearly 100% of families we serve live below the federal poverty level at the time of enrollment

What client best exemplifies SHIELDS' ability to help and support children and families?

Brenda was found by our social workers sleeping in the park with two of her seven children. Brenda was addicted to methamphetamines and they had hit rock bottom. The remaining five children were in foster care. Our staff recommended our Exodus program to her and she excelled in treatment. Within four months, she had all seven of children back in her custody. Her children thrived in our programs, making the honor roll and sports teams. During the program, Brenda received her high school diploma and began taking college classes. She found a home large enough for her entire family and completed her associate’s degree. Brenda now has her bachelor’s degree and is the program coordinator at a local drug treatment program. We are so proud of all of her accomplishments and enjoy hearing from her on a regular basis.

What is your budget and how many employees do you have?

The organization has grown to serve more than 3,000 families each year, employing more than 380 full-time employees, an annual budget of more than $21 million. SHIELDS operates 39 programs, including four collaborative networks where SHIELDS acts as the lead agency.