Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services
Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services provides culturally sensitive, comprehensive treatment, specialized education and support services to abused, neglected or at-risk children, youth and their families, to promote stability within families and communities. You can visit their website at: http://www.oyhfs.org
Our Mission We are committed to giving all children the chance at a bright future which they so rightly deserve. In combining therapy, education and a nurturing residential living environment, we provide the specialized care and unbounded love and understanding needed by each and every child. And through life skills training, we aim to help young people overcome the negative experiences of their youth in order to lead meaningful, independent adult lives. At Optimist, futures begin here, starting with a home, a family and hope.
Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services’ core values positively shape the manner in which we carry out our mission with clients and their families.
- Staff, clients, their families, and our community stakeholders must be treated with respect and dignity.
- Treatment environments must be safe and nurturing.
- Each client’s treatment and educational plan is individualized based on the strengths and needs of the client.
- Client’s families, as important members of the treatment team, need support and education to promote stability and successful reunification.
- Out of home placement should be an intervention that leads to permanency in a home-like setting with aftercare services whenever possible.
- Clients who cannot reunify with their families should still have permanent connections in their lives and should be prepared for emancipation.
History of Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services
Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Promise
In 1906, Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Strickland took in an orphaned nephew to their farm just outside the northern city limits of Los Angeles (which is still our main site today). Another boy - a ward of the court - arrived in the same year. By 1908 there were 13 boys living on the farm. The Stricklands supported the home by selling dairy products and chickens raised on their farm.
When Judge Curtis Wilbur, the presiding judge in Los Angeles Juvenile Court, was handling juvenile cases in Superior Court, he faced the dilemma of deciding where to place delinquent or orphaned boys. At that time, a reform school was the only place available, but in many cases it was not an adequate alternative. Judge Wilbur felt a home for boys was needed, and under his leadership the Strickland Home for Boys was incorporated on April 13, 1914.
The Strickland Home for Boys survived those early days with the help of O. T. Johnson, a well-known philanthropist. He purchased the five-acre Strickland Home for $15,000 and leased it to the Home, planning to deed it to the Home if it proved successful. The farmhouse was enlarged and a dormitory built in 1911. In 1916 the State licensed the Home to care for 25 boys; this number was increased until it reached 57, which was the capacity for quite a few years.
In the late 1920s, the Home and local Optimist Clubs began discussing working together. Increasing interest and important financial support from the Optimist and Opti-Mrs. Clubs resulted in changing the name to the Optimist Boys’ Home and Ranch in the mid-1930s. During the 40s and 50s, a dining room, kitchen, administration building, chapel, gymnasium and additional dorms were built.
During the 60s and 70s, because many of the youngsters in care were victims of divorce, abuse and neglect, it was determined there was a need for a more structured treatment and educational program. Classes were established on grounds for students having difficulties with the local school setting. In 1972, the Home began a major capital project; its own high school to provide classrooms and vocational training for its youngsters. The Campus program expanded to accommodate 87 boys during this period.
In 1974 the Home undertook the development of our first Group Home located in Altadena for six boys. Since this was such a successful concept, today the Home operates a total of six group homes, located in Los Angeles, and Orange counties. Four of the homes house boys and in response to a growing need, two accommodate girls.