Board of Directors
Mission Statement
Kedren’s Proud History
Our Community
Community Demographics
Community Partners

After the Watts riots in 1965, a group of 22 black male psychiatrists came together at the home of Dr. James L. Jones, a child psychiatrist, to discuss the problems that ignited the riots. 

They determined that in order to understand the underlying reasons, they needed to reach out to the community and talk to its residents. Residents illustrated issues that they believed caused the riots, from police brutality, to absentee landlords, and poverty. 


Some residents said that their schools were inadequate; others talked about gang violence, drugs and alcoholism, high teen pregnancy rates and absentee fathers.  The doctors realized that there were pervasive community problems that needed to be addressed.

After much discussion, the doctors decided that they would begin to make a difference with the youngest children-those who had been least affected by the negative influences of the community, and if successful, they would begin delivering mental health services. This marked the beginning of Kedren Community Health Center, Inc, in 1965.

Dr. Jones and his colleagues proposed educational programs that would also serve families.  They were laying the groundwork for the Head Start program to be implemented in Los Angeles. 

Head Start was concurrently being proposed and put into place by Lyndon Johnson in Washington as part of his “War on Poverty” [History of National Head Start:]  .  After receiving federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services in 1965, Dr. Jones and his wife developed 10 Head Start sites within the South Central community.

Kedren’s mental-health focused services soon followed with day treatment, outpatient and community outreach services being delivered to residents in South Los Angeles and Compton.  Kedren continued to grow, meeting the diverse needs of the community. 

In 1985, Kedren was awarded a contract for mental health services formenrly provided by Central City, expanding day treatment services in South Los Angeles. Kedren began operation at its current headquarters at 4211 S. Avalon, providing one of the largest outpatient programs in the state of California, serving children, adolescents and adults.

This property is located on the former baseball stadium of the Los Angeles Angels, Wrigley Field, which was also the site for the filming of movies such as "Field of Dreams", and "Pride of the Yankees". The acute psychiatric hospital for children and adults was opened in 1985, and programs and services have grown throughout the years, continuing to address the needs of a community still plagued by many of the same issues that contributed to the birth of the agency.

The mental health center currently serves almost 6,000 people annually, with funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Kedren operates its acute psychiatric hospital for children and adults, day treatment, CalWorks, school-based services, Full Service Partnerships, the Assertive Community Treatment Program, crisis intervention, Family Preservation, a Wellness Center, and other mental health services, continuing its effort to build stronger communities.

Concomitant with the expanding mental health services, Kedren’s educational program for children also grew. Funding from the State Department of Education in 1980, enabled Kedren to expand its services, matching half-day Head Start and State Preschool slots to provide full-day, full-years services to 305 families increasing to 400 families in 2008 with additional state funding. What began as an agency with 10 sites grew to 27 sites, making it the largest delegate agency of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and one the largest in the nation.

In 1996, Kedren received an Even Start Family Literacy Grant to enable undereducated families to participate in ESL, GED, Parent Education and Parent/Child activities with the ultimate goal of parents serving as the first teachers of their children and enhancing educational outcomes. 

Family literacy has served as a vital link for the program, bringing children and families together through innovative reading and literacy-focused activities. Other funding streams, including Reading is Fundamental in 1999, and First 5 LA in 2003, enabled Kedren to continue the delivery of family literacy programs empowering families to learn and grow together.

A highlight of the program was the 1999 visit by Sargent Shriver, who had an illustrious career that included serving as the first person to head the Peace Corps, and as the first Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.  He was accompanied by his daughter, California’s First Lady Maria Shriver. During lunch, Sargent Sriver reminisced about a meeting with former president Lyndon Johnson, at which he discussed the needs of low-income families with preschool aged children, especially those with disabilities, thus planting the seed for what would eventually become the Head Start program.

Kedren’s programs now provide services to almost 10,000 people annually, and continues to make a difference in the lives of those it serves.



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