L to R: Amanda Yard, Director of Support Services; Armen Ter-Barsegyna, Education Specialist; Arlene Aranda, Employment Specialist; Jazmine Wilson, Education Specialist
On any given day, there are approximately 28,000 school-aged youth in Los Angeles County who are in foster care. Add to this, the number of homeless and runaway youth, and that total nearly doubles.

“Compared to their peers, runaway, homeless and foster youth face tremendous challenges with their education and do not always receive access to critical services,” said Amanda Yard, director of support services at LAYN. “These youth face uphill battles academically, due to the lack of basic skills, frequent home and school placement changes, and emotional disruption.”

LAYN’s Support Services Program provides a variety of education planning, mentoring, coaching, and support services to help runaway, homeless and foster youth experience success at school as well as have access to the resources they need to graduate from high school with a plan for their future. The team supports the re-enrollment of over 350 youth back into school every year, provides tutoring, SAT prep, college application assistance, and resume/interview preparation. The education and employment team works to ensure that every child we serve has the preparation to succeed in school and in life.

At LAYN, we believe that strong advocacy can go a long way for a student who is struggling in school. Too many times, homeless and foster youth are stigmatized because of their circumstances. Oftentimes, they are even discouraged from participating in extracurricular activities, and encouraged to “just graduate.”

“Beyond enrollment, our work is actually about caring about their day,” said Armen. “Helping them apply for college, enter into the workforce, participate in extracurricular activities, these are just a few of the things we do.” 

And, you can help LAYN m ake life beyond high school possible for our youth, by sponsoring a senior. Sponsorship could include, offering an internship, paying for senior or college fees, purchasing textbooks, etc. LAYN is also looking for resources including youth athletic gear and wear, TAP cards and interview clothes. To donate, contact the LAYN development department a t or (323) 467-8466. 

Amanda Yard, director of support services and Raynetta Smith, development and communications manager at the Los Angeles Youth Network, recently spoke with KPCC about youth in the foster care system and college preparation. Click the link, below to read more about the challenges homeless and foster youth face.
The majority of youth in the foster care system have aspirations to go to college. Unfortunately, many of them face challenges that make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to consider a post-secondary education. At LAYN, we know that meeting their educational needs is not simply about getting them enrolled into school.

Statistically speaking, under 10% of foster youth attend college, and an even smaller percentage graduate. As such, LAYN’s commitment to education extends beyond enrollment. We closely track youth progress and act as their advocate with school personnel.

Additionally, we seek out partnerships with supporters who agree that putting youth on a successful path will steer them away from dismal outcomes. One such organization is the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation).

The Foundation manages several grant programs that award grantees based on their direct impact to the Los Angeles Jewish Community as well as other high priority concerns.  These grants reflect The Foundation's commitment to  tikkun olam  ("repairing the world").

In 2016, LAYN was invited to apply for and was awarded a Foundation General Community Grant to support college access and career readiness for foster youth. 

“We see this grant as a sound investment because of Los Angeles Youth Network’s track record providing shelter and supportive services to more than 2,500 foster youth since 2008,” said Elana Wien, vice president of the Center for Designed Philanthropy at the Jewish CommunityFoundation of Los Angeles. “It’s their experience and the heart they put into their work that makes them uniquely positioned to provide runaway, homeless, foster and former foster youth with the support they need to succeed in higher education and to pursue a path to a rewarding career.”

To meet the needs of our youth LAYN’s program components include:
  • An intensive series of six College-Readiness Workshops, covering a variety of topics, including but not limited to: study skills, A-G graduation requirements, educational choices, financial and scholarship assistance, and intensive assistance in writing the college personal essay
  • SAT and ACT preparation through workshops and one-on-one support
  • Executive functioning and character development exercises through art therapy, structured group activities, and one-on-one support
  • Individualized counseling and connection to educational opportunities
  • College tours, often conducted by LAYN alumni
  • Leadership-building youth retreats
  • Tutoring and homework assistance
  • Transportation vouchers and incentives for participation

These activities, collectively described as post-secondary bridging, are offered on a rolling basis throughout the year. And, over the years, our educational support has enabled countless youth to be the first in their families to attend college. 

With our encouragement and the ongoing support of organizations like The Jewish Community Foundation, our youth have beat the odds – persisting beyond the difficult first year and ultimately taking on course loads that lead to viable, lasting employment and self-sufficiency.

We’d like to thank The Jewish Community Foundation for believing in our capabilities and the continued education of our homeless and foster youth. 

Ensuring the physical safety of homeless and foster youth is paramount for the staff and administration at LAYN. This includes making sure that our four shelters are safe, nurturing places in which our youth heal from the abuses they have suffered. It is our responsibility to maintain the facilities not only to the standards of any responsible homeowner but also to the standards of California’s new Continuum of Care Reform Law ( AB403).

To meet the needs for enhanced safety, LAYN sought the support of the Skylight Foundation,  a legacy of the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation, to donate funding for the purchase and installation of fire alarm systems at two of our shelters. 
Through our renovation and construction priorities, LAYN can maintain a safe, nurturing environment that will provide runaway, homeless and foster youth with the skills they need to realize positive goals for adulthood, and help them overcome risks that may impede their developmental process. 
Because of foundations like The Milgard Family Foundations, who focus a percentage of their annual giving on youth-centered programs, projects and organizations, like LAYN, we will continue to represent 24/7 programming that, when successful, serves a much greater community. 
Thank you to the Skylight Foundation for your continued support of the Los Angeles Youth Network. 
Within one year, 41% of homeless children will attend two different schools; and 28% of homeless children will attend three or more
different schools.
And help LAYN provide educational support to homeless, runaway and foster youth.
LAYN uses creative arts to help foster youth engagement. To boost confidence and celebrate back-to-school, Amanda Yard, director of support services and DeShon Riggings, youth and behavioral specialist, kicked-off the Back to School picnic and talent show with a rap. Youth who participated wrote original songs, poetry and joined in a dance contest.
We are extremely excited about the upcoming gala on September 23 at NeueHouse. Currently, we have  a limited number of individual tickets available and one last table sponsor opportunity . We would love to see you there!  
If you have any questions about tickets or sponsorship, please email
The Los Angeles Youth Network’s mission is to empower abused, neglected and homeless adolescents to become self-sufficient.