La La Land Kind Café
Consider the following poor outcomes from the system we have for children in care in the UK:
39% of care leavers between the ages of 19 and 21 are not in education, employment or training.
27% of those currently within our custody system have been in care.
Approximately 33% who leave the system become homeless within two years.
The likelihood that a child will enter care has risen by 25% in the last 20 years, from one in every 180 children to one in every 140.
There has been an average of 85,000 children in care at any one time over the last 20 years.
In the USA, some of the statistics are:
Nearly 60% of young men who age out of the care system have been convicted of a crime.
7 out of 10 girls who age out of the care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
Less than 3% chance for children who have aged out of care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.
1 out of 2 kids who age out of the system will develop a substance dependence.
Care leavers cannot get, or maintain jobs. Because of lack of experience, most companies will either not offer jobs, or will not have the patience to help them grow. With no job or income, leads to homelessness, hunger, and decisions they shouldn’t have to make. They were born into bad positions, and gone through life alone. They are a part of a broken system.
One business trying to make a difference is The La La Land Kind Café in the USA.
After learning about the staggering statistics of what happens to youth in care who age out of the system, they set out through a non-profit, the We Are One Project, to provide everything youth needed to become self sustaining, happy adults. This meant providing help with housing, job placement, mentorship, and therapy. As much as they tried, it wasn’t working. The youth could not get or maintain jobs, and without a job everything else would crumble. Employers were not willing to hire youth with no experience, or did not have the patience to teach them. So if no one was going to hire the youth, they set out to do it themselves.
So the Café was born with a mission to make the world a kind place.
They hope to set the example that all businesses can, and need to be caring for our people, our planet, and our society. They are in the business of kindness. The La La Land Kind Café is a socially conscious café that prioritizes kindness, honest ingredients, and altruism above all else.
As observed by Imprint News:
Many of the young people making and serving drinks and food have grown up in care. The business model nurtures often-neglected aspirations, providing care leavers with a specially tailored eight-week internship, developed by a a clinical psychologist, to launch their career paths.
There are now 4 branches and more are planned. Also some major retailers are reaching out to ask how they can replicate the model.
The needs of care leavers are baked into the very design of the cafés. For example, they are fully staffed so they don’t depend on interns’ labour, taking the pressure off youth who may struggle with transportation, or need to juggle mental health appointments and conflicting priorities like school, court appearances and second jobs.
The company’s motto “to normalize kindness” drives hiring. Employees selected must first pass the kindness to others test. Secondary are their skills on the espresso machine or customer service. Those can be taught. As a result, when the foster youth interns do arrive at work, the environment is positive, and supportive.
After completing the eight-week program, participants can work at any La La Land location. If their ambitions lie elsewhere, staff will help with resumés, write letters of recommendation, and get them connected to other job opportunities. Mindful of the care leavers' needs for steady and committed support, even well into young adulthood, employees continue to check in monthly to make sure the former interns are doing well and have the resources they need to support themselves.
They now have 3.5 million followers after launching “drive-by kindness videos” of La La Land baristas giving compliments at passers by.
See a 2 min video below:
See also Second Shot Café.
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Geoff Knott, 22/12/2021