To address the epidemic of prenatal cocaine exposure at Martin Luther King Hospital, founders Kathryn S. Icenhower, Norma Mtume and Xylina Bean launched SHIELDS for Families in 1991. With a PhD, an LCSW and an MD, respectively, their mission was to provide family-centric services to women in the community. Today, SHIELDS operates 35 programs across 16 different locations, all concentrating on youth development, child welfare and mental health and support services for men and women. The residential substance abuse services are based in South Los Angeles, in Lynwood, California.
Accommodations and Food
The co-ed SHIELDS residence is in a refurbished church rectory that houses 50 clients. Rooms are self-contained with en-suite bathrooms and showers; upstairs rooms each sleep two and downstairs rooms sleep six. In addition to treatment and housing, the building boasts a commercial kitchen, a day room, an outside patio, a weight room and several group rooms. Upstairs are multiple sleeping quarters that each host two twin-sized beds. The community room is equipped with a TV which is available for use after treatment and before lights out. Additionally, residents can work out in the on-site gym and go for morning walks.
Clients eat three well-balanced meals three times a day, with snacks. Menu items include Mexican and Chinese food, as well as other items like Shepherd’s Pie and tuna casserole. Residents are also allowed sugar and caffeine at SHIELDS.
Treatment and Staff
The residential treatment program lasts for 90 days to six months, after which clients have the option of transitioning into outpatient care and sober living. While they encourage the 12-step method, SHIELDS for Families doesn’t require clients to participate.
Residents are treated using group therapy, Motivational Interviewing (MI) and individual therapy. At least two one-on-one counseling sessions a month are included in treatment; however, these are scheduled on a per client basis, so it’s possible this number could increase.
SHIELDS for Families has a doctor on staff who makes regular rounds of the facility so that any pressing medical needs can be addressed. Though they don’t have a detox, they can make referrals and provide transportation if necessary. Rather than offering simple dual diagnosis support, SHIELDS has entire programs dedicated to co-occurring disorders in both residential and outpatient varieties.
The facility provides four on-site, 12-step based meetings—two CA, one AA and one NA. While highly encouraged, residents are not mandated to attend these meetings (which applies to sponsorship as well). They do provide transportation to off-site meetings for those who have accrued enough time in treatment to get a pass.
Visitation occurs on the weekends, both in the morning to early afternoon and in late afternoon. All visitors are expected to be clean and sober. If SHIELDS suspects anything out of the ordinary, the visit will be terminated.
Days start at 6 am with breakfast at 7. After that, residents clean up and prepare for treatment which continues from 8:30 am to 5 pm with lunch at noon (with an hour of free time built in). Dinner is served at 6 pm and an optional 12-step meeting follows. Lights out is at 10:30 pm.
Outside electronics are allowed at SHIELDS, as they encourage communication with the outside world. Still, devices can only be used after treatment hours (8:30 am to 5 pm), between groups and before lights out. As long as residents adhere to these rules, there are no limitation on the use of electronics. The overall staff is composed of 12 staff members who tend to the residential clients. For overnight assistance, SHIELDS enlists aids to work swing and graveyard shifts.
For recreation and extra-curricular activities, clients spend time at the park across the street playing basketball, participating in advisory boards and joining activities committees. Black History Month, Pacific Islander Day, Cinco de Mayo and other related holidays are all celebrated here as well. Social activities include BBQs, beach trips, movies and more.
SHIELDS for Families offers family support in the form of childcare, daycare and preschool activities, as well as through group and individual therapy for families and significant others. Additional programs are provided for children and adolescents between the ages of five and 18, including mental health services, substance awareness classes, after-school services and tutoring.
For an inner-city non-profit rehabilitation facility, SHIELDS for Families could be an unexpected miracle. They treat their clients with respect and don’t necessarily force anyone to adhere to heavy rules and regulations. Their extended care options, family programs and social gatherings indicate that this facility is backed by big hearts. Ultimately, this facility is a great resource for the local community.
SHIELDS for Families
2620 Industry Way, Suite A
Lynwood, CA 90262
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