United Friends of the Children (UFC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of foster children and to supporting former foster youth in their journey to become successful, independent adults.

The group does this through its programs, advocacy efforts, and direct involvement with youth. Today the organization serves more than 1,500 current and former foster youth.

UFC was founded by Nancy M. Daly in 1979, to respond to the unmet needs of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable and underserved population-foster youth.

According to the organization website Daly remembers, “Thirty years ago, a group of friends and I were interested in finding ways to help the foster children housed at MacLaren Children’s Center in Los Angeles. I was sick to my stomach, because these children were treated like animals, as if they had done something wrong and were living in an environment that felt like a prison.”

UFC first began holding programs at MacLaren such as monthly barbecues, Friends Day, and performed other tasks including restoration of the center’s nurseries and other facilities before blooming into its own stand-alone organization.

As a result of witnessing such injustices to these youth, Daly formed United Friends of the Children and since that time the organization has been influential in affecting change in the Los Angeles County foster care system.

The non-profit was also extremely influential in the forming of the Department of Child and Family Services, which was created by combining Public Social Services, Adoption, and Probation departments.

UFC provides foster youth with the opportunity to graduate from high school, attend college, live in an apartment, find a job, and gives them a committed support system that helps the young people move towards independence.

One of UFC’s biggest accomplishments has been partnering in the creation of the first transitional housing program in the nation, Bridges to Independence, which is currently known as the County Transitional Housing Program (THP). It is one of the largest transitional housing programs in the nation and serves more than 240 youth per year.

In a continued effort to prepare these youth to lead fulfilling independent lives, through their Pathways and College Sponsorships program UFC has partnered with a number of corporations that now provide paid internships to participating youth, giving them valuable hands-on experience which often times leads to full-time employment.

In addition to the assistance UFC already provides, member of the community are encouraged to help in a number of different ways. The non-profit accepts donations, and is always open to volunteers who want to become involved with different events. Corporations can adopt UFC as their charitable organization and sponsor events, and individuals can help by doing everything from tutoring to helping wrap gifts during the holidays.

To contribute or to receive more information on United Friends of the Children, visit the organization’s website at www.unitedfriends.org.