More than 70,000 children each year in Los Angeles County are placed in the care of the Los Angeles County Department of Children's Services due to abuse, neglect, abandonment and exploitation. About 50,000 of these children require the protection of the Juvenile Dependency Court.
Prior to July 1992, dependency hearings were held at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles and in temporary trailers behind Van Nuys Superior Court. The proceedings and formal courtroom environments were seen by many as intimidating and stressful for already victimized children.
Los Angeles County became the first in the nation to establish a dependency courthouse designed specifically as a "child-sensitive" facility. The courtrooms are smaller and less intimidating to children than traditional courtrooms. Special areas are designed for children to play in, engage in interesting activities or just catch a nap. These features are meant to reduce as much as possible the stress and trauma associated with the child’s experience in the legal system.