Ettie Lee Youth & Family Services
First hand stories, written by our volunteers, staff, clients or donors, are an authentic way to show the human impact of the work we do. 

April 2021


Child Abuse Prevention Month

It is a common misconception that child abuse is a phenomenon contained to only people of a certain demographic or status. We stubbornly cling to the presumptuous idea that “something like that couldn’t happen in my neighborhood.” Unfortunately, with over 4.4 million reports received on child maltreatment, we have to face facts: Child abuse is an issue that touches all communities, regardless of socioeconomic group, educational level, religion, and ethnic group.

The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and serves as an important reminder that we must stay informed and stay vigilant of child maltreatment regardless of where we live. Data from the American SPCC shows that approximately 5 children die every day from child abuse and neglect so the need to be watchful is more important than ever. We at Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services believe it is crucial to spread awareness of what child maltreatment looks like and what can be done to advocate for children in these situations.

How To Spot It
                Before one can determine what child abuse looks like, it is important to understand that there are different kinds of child abuse, each of them having its own effects on children and its own warning signs to look out for. Child abuse can be categorized into neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse or sexual abuse.

Child neglect occurs when a parent is consistently unable to provide for their child’s needs. According to the SPCC, this is the most common form of child abuse with approximately 75% of all child abuse cases involving neglect. Signs of neglect can include a lack of hygiene (think matted hair or worse), lack of treatment for illnesses and injuries and lack of appropriately fitted clothes.

Physical abuse occurs when the abuser inflicts bodily harm on a child. Actions such as hitting, spanking, throwing objects at a child, etc. all count as forms of physical abuse. When a child is suffering from physical abuse, they will often present with bruises or other injury marks or try to wear seasonally-inappropriate clothing to hide those marks. Additionally, the feelings of anxiety that come from experiencing this kind of abuse may cause a child to flinch from touch or not want to go home.

Emotional abuse refers to the action of an adult using belittling statements, yelling, threatening, and limiting physical contact with their child. This very real form of abuse can result in lasting psychological impairment. Warning signs of emotional abuse are shown when a child shows consistent nervousness that they’re doing something wrong. Children who are suffering from emotional abuse also do not show a strong attachment and can even show hesitance towards their parents or guardians.

Sexual abuse is defined by The American Psychological Association as “is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” This type of abuse is often the most difficult form of child abuse to spot because of the complex feelings of shame, guilt, and trauma that come with it. Signs of sexual abuse can include actions such as having trouble with sitting or walking or not wanting to participate in physical activities with their friends. Children experiencing sexual abuse will often exhibit an inappropriate amount of knowledge in sexual behaviors and act seductively.

Understanding the differences between the four kinds of child abuse and their respective warning signs provides us with the tools to protect our children in a more informed manner. By noticing the signs quickly and reacting appropriately, we can help children escape abusive environments and give them the support that they need.


How To Stop It

                The best way to stop child abuse is to enforce a mandatory reporting policy. When you see the evidence of abuse: take it seriously and contact the state’s child protection services or the local police. Not only could hiding this information put a child’s life and well-being in danger, but it is often unlawful as well.

However, reporting situations alone won’t stop child abuse. Another crucial step in ensuring the prevention of child abuse is through self-education and advocacy. Taking the steps to inform yourself about warning signs, government services, local prevention programs, and even disciplinary methods can help you become a better ally for others. This knowledge can help teach parents, coworkers, and children to know their rights and to be active advocates for the community.


Ettie Lee Can Help 

Child abuse is not something to shrug off and disregard. It is more than a rare occurrence one might only see on a television screen. Abuse happens in real life and we at Ettie Lee believe in doing whatever we can to keep our children safe and happy. Our Director of Foster Care and Adoption Karen Cash proves our dedication to this by stating that “(Ettie Lee) provide(s) our staff with training on mandatory reporting laws as well as how to recognize different child abuse. We believe in keeping our staff prepared and our children safe.” By ensuring that all of our staff is trained in recognizing these signs we ensure our commitment to keeping children safe and building hope for a better tomorrow.

When you team up with Ettie Lee to become a foster parent you are ending cycles of abuse and replace it with a cycle of love. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent with Ettie, call us at (626) 859-5002. To learn more information about child abuse prevention, please visit our resource page or visit the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Youth Services.


March 2021


Ettie Lee Cares About Your Mental Health

As we speedily approach the one-year anniversary of our first COVID-19 lockdown, many of us are hitting a wall, and with good reason. Even in the face of unstable living conditions, economic insecurity, and countless deaths of our loved ones, people are still expected to continue work as usual. Maintaining high levels of productivity with low levels of social interaction has taken its toll on the mental health of many Americans. This past fall, a study of almost 190 million emergency room visits found that emergency room cases related to mental health conditions, suicide attempts, drug overdose, and parental abuse were significantly greater during the pandemic than in years past. People, now more than ever, are feeling isolated and unheard. For healthcare workers, however, mental health issues can get even more complicated.


Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are hurting the most this past year. In a survey conducted by The Mental Health of America, approximately 90% of all healthcare workers are experiencing stress, anxiety, and frustration during work while 50% reported changes in appetite and their sleep schedule. Most discouragingly, 39% of all healthcare providers feel as though they are not receiving an adequate level of emotional support. It makes sense with the influx of patients, the social isolation, and the increase of work hours that healthcare workers are unable to get their emotional needs met.

 (Source: United Nations COVID-19 Response Team)

The Rise of Online Therapy

In this current situation, resources like therapy and counseling have become paramount in the maintenance of one’s mental health. The therapy system has begun to adapt to the needs of the pandemic. Virtual therapy and online mental healthcare services have begun to become more commonplace. In a New York Times interview, Mindy Heintskill, the chief growth officer of MDLive, a telehealth provider with more than 62 million members in the United States, has gone on record stating that their online therapy and psychiatric care services have “increased fivefold in 2020 compared with 2019.Despite online therapy’s rise in popularity, there are still many inequities within the mental healthcare system in regard to issues such as affordability.


Ettie Lee Can Help

Luckily nonprofit organizations and government agencies like Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services have stepped up to provide better help to those in need.

“It contributes to our whole wellbeing,” says Ettie Lee’s Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tobi Nishikawa. “With the rise in anxiety, depression, and even suicide, (therapy) is more important now than ever before”.

Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services is offering free telehealth services to healthcare workers that are living or working in Los Angeles County and do not have access to health insurance or affordable mental healthcare. This short-term telehealth service allows anyone with the aforementioned qualifications to meet with a licensed therapist absolutely free. Nishikawa states “They’re on the frontlines and being exposed to the trauma... and there are long-term impacts that come with that. In order to help others, (healthcare workers) must be able to get help themselves.”

Additionally, Ettie Lee is also offering free telehealth services to anyone living or working in the Los Angeles area without access to insurance. For more information contact Ettie Lee at (909) 620-2521.

September 2016
Bruce C., 12 years old, was very scared and in rage with the whole world – feelings he had every right to after what life had put him through. Bruce and his younger five siblings were removed from their parents due to domestic violence and substance use. And to make matters worse all of the siblings were placed in different foster homes. Ettie Lee provided love and care for him at the Diamond L home for just about 2 months. During that time he opened up and felt comfortable enough to talk about his rage. Unfortunately, his rage was out of control and his social worker determined that he would benefit from a higher level of care. We very much wanted to continue to work with him, but we could not provide the 24-hour one-on-one watch for him that he needed. Once Bruce was living in his new home, we received the ultimate feedback from his social
worker who remarked that she would refer other clients to Ettie Lee.

August 17, 2016

Mario G., age 17 reunified with his grandfather in July 2016. When Mario came to live with us at the Mt. Jurupa home in February 2016 he had a lengthy criminal history -- robbery, possession of ammunition, grand theft auto, and drug use. He also had a history of running away from home and other group homes. He really struggled at first, but that was normal and understandable. He had to get adjusted, feel the warmth, the support and security he had with his “Team” before settling down and opening up. Within four months, he was on the right track. The team ( Probation Officer, Social Worker, Therapist, Child Care Worker, Rehab Specialist, Drug and Alcohol Counselor) supported him as he improved at school, then he changed the way he dressed and presented himself – sharing that he wanted to change his look and style, and that he didn’t want to “run with hommies any more”. He made up his mind--he wanted to go back home to grandpa and volunteer in church, where he “could be with family and feel great.” Prior to going home he reminded us that he will never forget his “Ettie Lee” family. Was he perfect when he left? No, but when he cursed, he would catch himself, and with a smile, exclaim, “my bad, I guess I still need to work on language.” This is awareness! This is success! In his last Team meeting, Mario’s grandfather happily shared that he was happy and proud to have him back and remarked that he was certain that this time round, it is going to work!
August 5, 2016
came from a broken home when I was 13 years old. After spending my life with numerous stepfathers who were physically and emotionally brutal to us, I was placed in the Ettie Lee home in Fontana in 1969. My experience with living beside my new brothers (15 of us lived there) who were from different races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds assisted me to become the man who I am today. Learning to live and get along with others, and how to live in a family environment were lessons that had lifelong effects. I am now 60 years old with two children and six grandchildren. I work in administration at a community college and have been in higher education for the past 23 years. Thank you Ettie Lee for showing me love when I didn’t even know what love was.”

David Pearse

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Posted by Joe Kuban on 06-Apr-2020 at 17:20:11 EST
Subject: Mr.

A former foster child, age 6-18. Residing in many foster homes as a young child to boys homes as a teenager. Ettie Lee Homes was different. Became a resident at Robertson's Boys Home, attended Beaumont High. Stayed until I moved to the Emancipation Home in North Hollywood. There, I attended continuation school while learning independent learning skills. <br><br>I was blessed to have been accepted to call Robertson's my home including the North Hollywood Emancipation Group Home. Making new friends, achieving my weekly behavioral goals and more. Clayton Downey, Juaquin Shelton were wonderful people including Mr. Huey that was my counselor at Robertson's after Ms. Carolyn Taggert left to become a social worker with DCFS.

Posted by Brian Monterrozo on 06-Mar-2017 at 08:37:40 EST
Subject: A sincere THANK YOU!

My time there was a short 7 months, but the experience changed my life for the better. I'm now 26 years old, married, and just bought a home in Colorado! Prior to moving to Mt.Jurupa I was getting myself prepared to go to Prison, as it were the thing to do.... The staff at Mt. Jurupa and Pomona school changed my way of thinking, DRAMATICALLY. So with that being said, I never really got a chance to thank all the people at the Mt.Jurupa home, and the school staff in Pomona. For those of you that remember me or not, THANK YOU!

Posted by Ettie Lee on 14-Jun-2010 at 08:48:40 EST
Subject: Why We Work At Ettie Lee

Brian* was 16 ½ when his family begged the judge to place their child in a treatment facility where his problem behaviors could be addressed on a daily basis. He arrived at our Mount Jurupa group home and was assessed as needing mental health and drug and alcohol services right away. Additionally he needed to make up school credits. He had a choice. Ettie Lee staff would be there to support him if he was willing to do the hard work it would take for him to change his life. During his time with Ettie Lee Brian he took part in more than 72 drug and alcohol sessions and had more than 35 individual and family therapy sessions. He attended school daily and stayed drug free. While in placement, Brian’s best friend died from a gunshot wound. Brian remarked that, “That could have been me because we were always hanging out together.” Prior to leaving Ettie Lee, Brian’s family moved to a safer neighborhood. There, Brian is reported to be happy, drug free, in school and getting acclimated in his new neighborhood.

Posted by Ettie Lee on 11-Jun-2010 at 16:29:34 EST
Subject: Why We Work At Ettie Lee

The therapist at our Waterflow Home wrote me about Manny (not his real name) a couple of days ago. It seems that Manny came to Ettie Lee with such a good attitude that he became a very good role model for the other boys. He would step in to correct others’ behavior and the other young men really looked up to him. The other young men even went to him for advice. Manny passed all his drug screenings and even earned the honor room at the home. At school he completed 100 hours of community service in less than a month and earned many school credits toward his graduation. Manny was with Ettie Lee for five months, from August 5 to January 28. Prior to leaving Ettie Lee Manny had a plan and wanted to change. He knew he had choices – no more gang involvement, move out of the area and go college. Our staff said he will take DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) with him and keep it on the inside. Manny turned 18 the day before he left Ettie Lee. The therapist Laurie says we can call Manny….We will. And we’ll keep you up to date on his status.