Goal: The Children’s Bureau of Southern California established the Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI) in 2008 with the goal of improving community outcomes and the well-being of vulnerable families in downtown Los Angeles. The community-based initiative focuses on enhancing the education, health, quality of nurturing care, and economic stability factors for children and youth situated in high-need, low-resource neighborhoods in the area.14
Partner organizations: MCI is a voluntary network of 70 partner organizations, including the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office’s social services, child support, and child protection departments, the Los Angeles County Unified School District, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and community-based nonprofit organizations providing health care, early care, and education.
Participation and funding model: MCI follows the collective impact approach to solving social problems, which means that multiple entities are committed to a common goal. According to one of our interviewees, organizations self-select themselves for the initiative. Since this is an unfunded collaborative model, there’s no lead agency, third party, or neutral entity providing extrinsic rewards to community members or organizations for their participation. Individuals and organizations align their efforts and resources toward an agreed-upon set of design elements such as activating parents to address their child’s developmental needs and to care for their own physical, social, and emotional health needs.15
Community hub: MCI draws the community in by making its physical space a place that children and families want to visit. A farmer’s market outside its doors provides fresh, local produce at a low cost. The building walls are colorful and decorated with murals drawn by children. A nature center with a wall-to-wall fish tank provides a respite in one of the poorest neighborhoods in LA. The building also is a space for the community to use for performances, classes, a place to read, etc.
Single-user interface: Community members only need to fill out paperwork once to join a myriad of services including WIC, health care, and social services. By removing barriers to accessing programs, the community can fully leverage the services available to them.
Outcomes achieved in 2020:16
- Framework for healthy families: Eighty-seven percent of parents increased parental resilience, 82% of families reported having social connections, and 82% of parents enhanced the social and emotional competence of their children.
- Mental health services: Provided 109,863 hours of mental health therapy and counseling to 4,454 children and their families.
- Prevention programs: Provided 5,000 home visits to 650 at-risk families with young children in need of parent education and services. Also, more than 600 low-income children received developmental and health screenings and saw improvements in their school readiness skills.