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Narrative

30 – 2016/2017–Year 30

Thirty Years, what an amazing, blessed journey it has been–watching the Family Care Network emerge from a dream to become a significant, important player in the lives of so many children, youth and families. Ours is a story of incredible people, risk taking, passion, heart, tenacity, innovation, partnership, creativity, planning and, above all, serving!

It is not likely that I will live to see the next 30 years of the Family Care Network unfold, but, I can do all that is within my power to make sure that the next 30 years will be better and more successful than our first 30. I want to boldly propel FCNI into the future full of hope and vision, and a strong foundation for positively impacting the lives of children, youth and families and strengthening our community. I want to make a successful handoff to a new generation of skilled, creative, enthusiastic and caring leaders and workers who will carry the torch forward with as much passion, vigor and energy as I have had. I want the Central Coast to view Family Care Network as their Community-Based Organization, their opportunity to help “enhance the wellbeing of children and families…”

Revisiting and retelling our 30 year history has been an awesome experience for me; it certainly woke up some sleeping memories and gave me the opportunity to share them along with some very vivid experiences that I will never forget. Now, I am equally as excited about looking towards the future of the Family Care Network. If I might take a few moments of your time to briefly share my vision for this organization which I dearly cherish.

First, we meant it when we established that the mission of the Family Care Network is “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our community!” It is my heart to see the Family Care Network not only be a conduit for the community to get involved with helping children, youth and families heal, succeed and become empowered, but to also become the “go to” place for innovating solutions to our community’s problems. A great example/model of this approach happened this year.

For the past to five to six years, Foster Parent recruitment and retention (now rebranded Resource Parent) has been dismal–not only here on the Central Coast, but across the state and country. This shortage poses a serious challenge in California, especially with the new Foster Care Reform efforts designed to shift youth from group homes back to the community and family-based care. It’s kind of hard to move these children if there aren’t enough families to care for them! To help address this local need, the Family Care Network convened two “Summits” to create awareness of the problem and generate solutions. The first was with the “Faith Community” and the second was with business, nonprofit and government leaders. We had nearly 85 participants collectively generate an amazing array of ideas, strategies, commitments and new partnerships. This success was a wonderful example of our community helping our community.

Second, it goes without saying, the fiscal stability and viability of the Family Care Network is absolutely critical for a successful future. In our three decades, we have certainly experienced some major economic upheaval and political turmoil which has definitely affected our funding. But, we have been successful in riding out storms through creativity, belt-tightening and community support. My goal is for FCNI to have the fiscal strength to be able to perform undaunted through the ups and downs of troubled fiscal waters.

This year, the Family Care Network’s Board of Directors made a major commitment to move forward to establish a full-scale Development function with the goal to build an endowment. At the beginning of July, 2017, we will begin a “Readiness Assessment” process, utilizing the services of a nationally recognized fund development consultant to give us direction and “next steps” to accomplish our goal.

Additionally, the organization is looking at creating additional revenue streams through marketing our expertise (more on this below).

Third, innovation has always been part of the fabric of the Family Care Network. I want this organization to innovate its way into the future! From my perspective, the Human/Social Services Industry is lagging way behind in the use of technology and innovation. Some contend that “Evidence-Based” programs (EBP) represent our innovation, but I disagree. EBPs are primarily moneymakers for the developers and do not have the scale to transform an industry. I believe FCNI can help lead the way in truly transformative innovation that will not only improve delivery efficiencies, but, more importantly, achieve greater outcomes and benefits for our clients.

Towards that end, the FCNI Board will be establishing an Innovation Committee with representatives from the Board, the community and from within our organization. Our objective will be to put everything we do under the microscope to see how we can innovate improvements and/or greater social impact. One example in the works right now is to take our published lifeskills workbook and convert it into an “edutainment”, “gamified” app. Using today’s technology, we can create a handheld lifeskills coach, with videos, instructive activities, incentives, rewards, and even real-time contact with case managers and lifeskill development staff. This is only a scratch on the surface of what we believe is possible–and marketable!

Fourth, education, training and skills-transfer is a strategic objective that will help drive FCNI’s future as well. The Family Care Network has been recognized as a leader in our industry in developing very effective, model programs. Now, we need to raise the bar and emerge as one of the primary “go to” Education, Training and Professional Development providers on a national scale. FCNI has already published several manuscripts, with a number of others in the works. My goal is to take our extensive knowledge base and, through the use of technology, make it much more readily accessible and effective to help others enhance their skills. I also wish to help other organizations achieve the successes we have, not only in service delivery, but in organizational development.

Fifth, one way I am convinced we can help secure a successful future for the Family Care Network is to make sure we are doing our best job of taking care of our staff and ensuring their wellbeing. As I have stated many times over our 30 year story journey, our success has hinged on the amazing passion, skill and commitment to help others demonstrated over time by our staff. My dream is that by enhancing our revenues through marketing materials, education and training, and having a healthy endowment, we can pay wages and provide benefits far beyond the restrictions created by inadequate state and contract rates.

Another way that we can help staff is to make sure we have the best tools and infrastructure available, to make their jobs easier, more efficient and less encumbered by bureaucracy; and this is where innovation and technology come into play. As we jump full steam into innovation planning, one of our goals will be to streamline and improve all of our processes so staff can spend more time with clients and less time at the computer. Akin to this, is making sure we have the best technology available (be it computers, tablets, smart phones, et cetera) and the software we need. We also want to develop more secure, off-site mobility to enhance staff productivity.

Sixth, in looking ahead at the Family Care Network’s future, it is imperative to me that we are part of the process of creating that future at the political and public policy level. I have always operated on the axiom that it is better to be a change creator than always having to play catch-up. Thus, FCNI needs to remain an engaged leader towards this end. This approach will mean we need to develop new Leadership within the organization to wear the advocacy mantle and play a vital role in creating and transforming future public policy concerning children, youth and families.

Seventh, for our 30 years, there has remained one immovable steadfast rule: REMEMBER OUR MISSION! This mantra absolutely must be continued; it is always about positively impacting the lives of the children, youth and families in our care. The Family Care Network exists to positively transform the precious lives of the individuals we have been honored to serve. And for this purpose, part of our innovation process must be to find new ways to get better and quicker results, and for the long term.

One of the objectives that I have yet to see fulfilled is for the community at large to have access to the specialized services that we provide to individuals who are “within the system.” Our healthcare system is supposed to be providing “mental health parity,” a reality on paper only. I think it would be fantastic if families could access the specialty children’s mental health and other supportive services–like Wraparound–that we have garnered so much success with. Again, this objective is going to require major system change, forcing healthcare providers to stop discriminating and cover these cost. The Family Care Network will continue to fight this fight!

There you have it–the short version of my vision of what it will take to secure an effective, successful, community-supported future for the Family Care Network. I am a firm believer in the proverb that “without a vision, people will perish.” For 30 years now, I have laid out a vision and goals for our organization, and I will continue to do so as long as I’m able. But in the meantime, our organization will carefully make preparations to effectively hand off the baton to the next generation who will be charged to lead the organization into the next leg of its journey.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these 30 stories, anecdotally encapsulating our history from a perspective which has never been shared. I may not be the smartest and most capable person alive, but I feel I am one of the luckiest. I have been given incredible opportunities, worked with the most amazing, competent and creative people, experienced tremendous encouragement, grace and support, and have known in my heart that I have been part of something much bigger than myself. Most importantly, I have witnessed the positive transformation and life changes ever imagined. There is no greater joy than seeing someone who has been hurt, damaged or disempowered by trauma and horrible circumstances, begin to heal, become empowered and then emerge as a healthy, hopeful individual!

Magna futura erit – our future will be great!

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Narrative

Opportunities – 2015/2016–Year 29

If you have been following our 30 year stories, you know that we have tried to keep our focus on discovering how we might improve what we are doing to achieve a far greater positive impact with clients; creating new pathways and opportunities for the community to be involved to the betterment of everyone here on the Central Coast; maximizing limited resources to “get the biggest bang for the buck”; and building a sustainable future for the Family Care Network. Opportunities was our 2015/2016 theme for sure.

We identify “Opportunities” in three categories: 1) to Help and Serve, 2) to Partner and Collaborate, and 3) to Innovate and Create. This constellation of opportunities aptly characterizes the heart and soul of our organization as we pursue our mission, “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our community.”

In our “Helping and Serving” category, we had several important initiatives and strategic objectives. Serving more families through our newly acquired Adoptions License was an exciting opportunity we wanted to expand. Certainly there were couples who could not have their own children, folks who desired to have a larger family, and those who we call “family starters” who wanted to adopt through foster care. In our Year 29, we were fully able to accommodate whatever adoption need any family had.

During this year we also launched the Housing Support Program more fully, providing secure housing and case management services to homeless families. This program was not only a great opportunity to get families into permanent housing, but also to provide skill building resources to help folks become more self-sufficient and no longer dependent on public assistance. To strengthen our success, we embarked upon an effort to explore every opportunity available to us to obtain the housing we needed. Unfortunately, on the Central Coast has a constrained housing market, making it both expensive and limited. Thankfully, hrough our relationship building process, we were able to partner with landlords and property managers and find housing for around 70 families.

Another “Helping and Serving” area we became more involved in was our County’s planning for and serving of “Commercially Sexually Exploited Children/Youth” (CSEC) – victims of sex trafficking. We embarked on very specialized services, taking the time to learn the skills necessary to properly serve these extremely vulnerable victims. Additionally, we identified several families willing to work with CSEC youth and established a “safe house” shelter. Fortunately, there isn’t a large volume of CSEC victims in our area–but regardless, there are still more than you would expect or should be. A very positive side of this story is the interest and support provided to this population by our local Faith Community. Several churches sponsored workshops and training, working to increase public awareness of the CSEC population and our county’s need for more specialized foster families to care for them.

It goes without saying, over our 29 years the Family Care Network has gained a substantial base of expertise and skill which is foundational to our very effective practice model. Given our organizational heart to Help and Serve, and Partner and Collaborate, we reached out to the Faith Community this year in a new way. Knowing well the continuum of challenges, crises, behaviors and issues faced daily by our Faith Leaders, we purposed to do whatever we could to help them be more effective in working with these challenges.

Partnering with our former Board member and Agape Fellowship Senior pastor, Mike Sparrow, we developed a strategy to engage local pastors and leaders to create a series of workshops that would be helpful and informative. To launch this effort, we invited a large group of faith leaders to a half-day brainstorming, innovation summit. This was an opportunity for us to share about our “faith” roots, the skill, expertise and services we provide, and create a dialogue on how we could strengthen their abilities to serve their congregations.

The summit was attended by fifty+ interested faith leaders, and was a wonderful, very fruitful summit. Based on their needs, we created and executed a series of training workshops, including: understanding and serving victims of trauma, mental illness and substance abuse, accessing local services and resources, and creating ministry “wraparound” teams. It was exciting to fulfill a long-standing agency goal to help other organizations be more effective in serving people in need. FCNI’s special relationship with the Faith Community has continued to flourish.

In a similar vein, one of the blessings of owning our own Administrative Headquarters in SLO is having our Conference/Meeting Center–something sorely needed. Having this resource has provided another great opportunity for us to serve our community and partners. This year alone, we hosted/conducted nearly 20 training events which involved our County partner agencies. We have made the space available for Social Services, Mental Health and Probation to use, but mostly have provided multi agency sponsored events. The Family Care Network was also the site of the first of eight national Summits sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Family Focused Treatment Association on “Kinship-Therapeutic Family Care.” Nearly 70 participants from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties spent the day learning, innovating and strategizing about implementing kinship base TFC.

Finally, this was the year our Board of Directors firmly committed to innovating and developing strategies for strengthening the long-term future of the Family Care Network, including: agency-wide succession planning; Legacy giving, Development and Endowment creation; creating new mission-related revenue streams, strengthening Board roles and responsibilities; and building greater community linkages, relationships and support. We have a Board who strongly believes there is a world of Opportunity to serve and to grow!

We finished 2015/2016 having served 1817 children, youth and families through 20 programs, with another amazing 93% success rate. A hundred and forty-eight families were served in our newly launched Housing Support Program, with an 80% success rate. And 670 volunteers contributed 12,372 hours supporting the Family Care Network’s efforts to enhance lives on the Central Coast!

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Obstacles & Tenacity – 2014/2015–Year 28

If I were to identify two words to describe 2014/2015, they would be “nimbleness” and “flexibility.” One of the givens when you’re working in a business environment of constant change, flux, unknowns and surprises, is the need to rapidly respond and adapt quickly! Our Year 28 was another year where we were exercising our nimbleness and flexibility, and further refining our dynamic, adaptive strategic planning process.

The Family Care Network had gone through an amazingly long process to become licensed as an adoption agency. It really took intervention from high places and key people to get us our license. But we got it. Our Adoptions Manager, Dana Nichols, really did a masterful job of getting us through the process and preparing us to launch the new program. Now, the challenge was what we do next. We discovered that Santa Barbara Social Services was having serious fiscal issues and basically backed away from providing referrals and opportunities as they had promised–which was not good! Faced with this challenge and a fairly substantial decrease in our foster care caseload in Santa Barbara due to a lack of foster families, definitely required a rapid-response, adaptive reaction.

From FY 2009/10 to 2014/15, the Family Care Network had lost well over $1.5 million in our foster care programs, mostly in Santa Barbara County. Just to demonstrate that we weren’t being flaky or irresponsible with our funding, private foster providers like ours, had not received a Cost of Living Adjustment in California rate for 15 years, and then the state cut the rate by 10% in 2009. As you well know, the cost of living didn’t stop increasing over that time span, so we were left to do whatever it took to keep our services afloat. Key “Core Support Grants” from several large foundations plus aggressive fundraising activities definitely helped keep the lights on.

Well, enough was enough. We had to make some major changes, and we did. We closed our two state licensed Santa Barbara County based sub-offices, we consolidated our foster care administration into our San Luis Obispo office and reassigned staff, and we downsized workspace. These changes were not easy. Change always comes hard but we had no other choice.

Added to these changes, I really stepped up my advocacy at the state level regarding rate inadequacy and how it was killing our industry. With the state planning to move youth out of licensed group homes back into the community to be better served in agencies like ours, they had an obligation to make sure we are fiscally whole. Under existing rates, we could not pay competitive salaries, let alone operate a viable foster parent recruitment operation. The fight was on!

About mid-year, SLO County Social Services asked if we would be interested in temporarily operating their Housing Support Program (HSP) until they finalized how they wanted to administer the program. The County had been selected as one of eight counties statewide to provide housing for homeless families under the CalWorks program. As a housing provider, we were more than happy to oblige their request, but also understood the tremendous challenge of finding housing in one of the least affordable housing corridors in the United States.

What we learned in our Transitional Age Youth Housing program is that you really need to own housing units. So we approached DSS about purchasing some property, not knowing if they had any funding for it or if it was at all possible. Much to our pleasure and surprise, they said this was an option with one caveat–any transaction had to be completed before the end of that current fiscal year which happened to be in two to three months! Being flexible and nimble, we kicked into high gear looking for housing in North SLO County, a significant pocket of need.

Our friend, Scott Taylor of Keller Williams Real Estate, quickly located several properties for us to consider. Remarkably, Scott found two small apartment units on contiguous lots for sale in Atascadero, both being sold by the owners. The units needed some work, but were well within our price range, and would leave us with funds to do remodeling and repair work. The units were put into escrow, we began processing the paperwork with the County, obtained County Board approval for the project, and, by June 5, 2015, the properties were ours. We now had nine additional homes to provide homeless families! On July 1st, we began the remodel process, and by September we were placing families in their new homes!

One afternoon on my way home, I stopped by one of the complexes to check out one of the newly remodeled apartments. I was greeted by program and facilities staff, and was delighted to see they were already moving a family with two young children into the apartment. When I introduced myself to the couple, they both embraced me, and with tears in his eyes, the husband thanked me over and over for helping them find a home. Even their children thanked me as they took me to see their new room. This is the heart of the Family Care Network–seeing our mission fulfilled in experiences just like this!

The HSP program was put out to bid and FCNI was successful in being awarded that contract in 2015. Since then, we have successfully placed over 100 families!

In our Year 28, we also made several other key decisions and implemented important changes in practice. Due to the rigorous requirements for accreditation, state licensing and medical records, we improved our Total Quality Management and internal auditing procedures. In an effort to create new community partnerships and relationships, we began providing “Meet & Greet” beverage and hors d’oeuvre receptions, inviting people to hear more about Family Care Network, tour our building, and talk to our staff and even some clients. We also made “Staff Wellness” a major theme, and built a Wellness Garden on the front of the property for staff to enjoy. And finally, the Board of Directors made a commitment to begin establishing the Family Care Network Foundation and a full-scale Development Department, with the goal of establishing an endowment to ensure our fiscal future.

Our Year 28 was one of tenaciously overcoming obstacles and moving the agency forward. Through 19 distinct programs we served 1420 children, youth and families with a remarkable 93% success rate. Throughout the year, we also had 565 volunteers donate 12,594 hours as community partners in fulfilling our mission.

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A System in Change – 2013-2014–Year 27

CHANGE is a byline of the Family Care Network’s story. One of our most substantial changes occurred in the fall of 2013–we moved into our beautiful, brand-new Administrative Headquarters. Orchestrating this move literally took nine months, or better, of very careful, painstaking planning. Fortunately, we were assisted in this process by an organizational pro, Serena Paulus. There was not one detail that Serena did not consider and plan for. As it turned out, we moved into our new building on my birthday–and what a great gift it was. We were assisted in our move by the County Sheriff’s Honor Farm crew, Meathead Movers, tons of community volunteers and, of course, our staff who weren’t working with clients.

What an incredibly positive change it was to see this long time strategic objective realized–we consolidated from three independent leased facilities into one location while gaining about 10,000 square feet of additional space – at less cost no less!

During this change, another very significant CHANGE was underfoot at the state level: Foster Care Reform. I started the Family Care Network based on a very rigid belief that most foster children and youth with serious emotional, mental health and behavioral needs are better served in a family-based model than they are in group homes or institutional care, and, at much less public expense. As previously discussed, we were the first private foster care provider in California to begin providing Therapeutic Foster Care. Now, 26 years later, the state was starting to wake up and embrace the concept.

I should note: California rarely does anything because it is a Best Practice or “the right thing to do”; motives are usually either fiscal or legal (i.e., they lost another lawsuit and are forced to). The first step in the state’s awakening was the impetus for California’s Continuum of (foster) Care Reform (CCR) process. The state had lost a significant lawsuit to the California Alliance of Child & Family Services which forced them to increase group home rates substantially. Consequently, the state legislature required the Department of Social Services to develop a plan to reduce group home placements in order to reduce statewide foster care expenditures. Regardless of CCR’s origin, it being launched was a significant move in the right direction.

Foster care across the country had been needing “reform” for decades. For too long, foster care was a “destination” instead of a short-term intervention leading to family reunification or permanency. Foster youth lingered in foster care–even group homes–for years. Most people know the “Boys Town” story, an orphanage for boys founded by Edward (Father) Flanagan in 1917 and immortalized in the 1938 movie of the same name starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. Unfortunately, the “orphanage” model has proven time and time again to not only be ineffective for youth, but actually traumatizing and damaging. Sadly, institutional change is very hard and very slow, thus, 100 years later and we are just now starting to see positive changes made!

As I previously mentioned, because of the Family Care Network’s experience, expertise and success with “family-based” care, I was invited to participate in California’s Reform Process. Initially, there were only two providers involved, myself and Bill Martone from Hathaway-Sycamores. As the process evolved, however, many others were invited to join. Even though the motive behind CCR with spurious, it really was an effective process embracing a broad array of stakeholders. Through multiple targeted-workgroups, the state did a good job of listening, but struggled rather conspicuously in assimilating the gathered information into a coherent strategy!

Consequently, the Alliance pulled together a small workgroup of CEOs and Directors, including me, to create a model for the state to consider. What followed was an intensive and thought-provoking, productive process–an expected outcome given the depth of experience, knowledge and wisdom represented in this group, coupled with very strong personalities and opinions! In the end, an excellent plan was developed which would ultimately shape the direction of the state plan and subsequent legislation. In a strategy to gain state acceptance, the Alliance partnered with the California Welfare Directors Association and several advocacy groups forming an effective coalition to successful convey and sell the plan.

Assembly Bill 403 was written and subsequently passed by the State Legislature, and signed by Governor Brown. In sum, CCR became the most pervasive reform of the foster care system–not only in California but nationally.

I have detailed the process of AB 403 as an example of a practice philosophy we have employed at the Family Care Network from very beginning–don’t wait for change to happen to you and then react, make it happen to our advantage! My strategy has always been to “keep my eyes on the horizon and my ear to the ground,” and try to stay one step of head of the field.

The only part of this entire Continuum of Care Reform process our organization has not played a role in helping to shape, has been the restructuring of the new Group Home design into Short-Term Residential Treatment Programs. Otherwise, we have been at the table or providing input in every other aspect of this massive systems change process. Consequently, there has been no learning curve or intensive preparation to rollout the new system–we have been ready and waiting.

In 2014,  the Family Care Network was featured at the statewide “Partnership for Excellence” conference as a model County public/private partnership collaboration, presenting in a plenary session and conference workshop. The California Welfare Directors Association partnered with us to provide a statewide webinar on providing In-Home Support Services under CCR, and the agency was invited to present two workshops at the national FFTA conference and one workshop at the California Alliance statewide conference. Additionally, given our expertise and success in providing Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC), I was invited by LA County to do a one-day conference presentation and multiple workshops on the topic, and was engaged as a consultant to help them develop TFC within their jurisdiction.

I previously discussed, the “Katie A” litigation had a major impact upon California’s Children’s System of Care. Once the case was settled, it took several years to roll out two of the three components ordered by the court – our year 27 was the year two of them launched. Again, through our very strong partnership with Social Services and Behavioral Health, “Intensive Home-Based Services” (IHBS) and “Intensive Care & Coordination” (ICC) were implemented, making available more services for children and youth in foster care. The Family Care Network was a natural choice to become the IHBS provider in our County, while ICC became embedded throughout our local system.

At the conclusion of 2013/2014, we had served 1577 children, youth and families through 17 programs, averaging around 170 employees and over 500 volunteers. More importantly, we achieved a 90% aggregate success rate with our very high-needs, at-risk population of clients.

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Twenty-Five Years – 2012-2013 – Year 26

On August 21, 2012, the Family Care Network turned 25! It was certainly an amazing milestone to achieve–an incredible adventure to look back upon. Our organization had grown from a two-person, treatment foster care provider to a multidimensional, child, youth and family Community-Based Services organization. We were operating 17 distinct programs, had nearly 175 employees, 100  foster parents, averaged around 700 community volunteers and had served nearly 17,000 children, youth and families!

The most important fact about our 25 year history is that we had achieved an 89% cumulative success rate serving the most challenged, highest needs children, youth and families on the Central Coast. This achievement was certainly a reflection of and a credit to the most amazing, mission-focused, passionate and highly-skilled staff who made up the Family Care Network.

A few bits of “25 year” trivia:

 

  • We had certified nearly 300 foster families;
  • Over 200 foster children had been adopted by FCNI parents;
  • Over 5,000 volunteers, tutors and interns had donated tens of thousands of hours supporting our mission;
  • The organization had purchased six debt-free transitional housing apartments; and
  • Over 18,000 community members had either walked or run 112,304 miles in our Miracle Miles for Kids events to date!

 

Relationships have always been our “story behind the story.” As the Family Care Network grew, it did so fully engaged with others. Excellent Relationships with our County partners produced stellar, model programs. Solid Relationships with our Community produced outstanding volunteer support. Highly successful fundraising events, and funneled critical goods and services to our clients helped meet their needs. Effective Relationships with Policy Makers helped to create public policy and legislation benefitting children, youth and families across the state. And, most importantly, quality Relationships with our clients produced positive life changes. To this point, it had been 25 years of Relationship Building!

In the fall of 2012, I was elected as the President of the California Alliance of Child & Family Services–an honor and an incredible opportunity to serve in a new capacity. This role proved to be one of my most endearing, positive experiences. The Alliance was then, and remains to this day, one of the most influential member organizations in the country, having incredible positive impact on our industry, and the lives of the children and youth we serve.

In my role as the Alliance President, and as a multi-services provider representative, I was invited to participate in the beginnings of California’s Continuum of (foster) Care Reform (CCR), an endeavor to create a whole new foster care system for the state. To this day, I remain involved in this effort. CCR was a daunting, exhaustive, sometimes frustrating process, but had an outstanding goal. For months on end, I traveled to Sacramento, sometimes weekly, to participate in the steering committee and multiple workgroups. Needless to say, CCR efforts are not yet complete and have yet to been fully implemented–five years later–but I feel thankful for having played a small role in shaping this systems transformation.

It was also in the fall of 2012 that I ventured to take the organization into a whole new arena, and pursued the acquisition of the state’s largest adoptions agency. For years, we’d seen many of our foster children adopted by our parents, but because we were not a licensed adoption agency, we were dependent upon the county or other private agencies to complete the process. Since Permanency is the goal of foster care, it only made sense to become a licensed Adoptions Agency.

So it became my strategy to possibly merge with an organization that already possessed the necessary adoption expertise, and had an outstanding track record and reputation. Through my Relationships in the Alliance, I found such an agency and, after initial talks, their Executive Director was eagerly willing to pursue a merge. As a result, we launched a long vetting and legal process with a target goal for our organizations to merge, with the Family Care Network remaining as the legal entity, while the absorbed agency remained as a subsidiary.

Our agency’s engaged the services of consulting firm in the Bay Area and went to work. In the end, I determined that this was not a viable decision, and instead began our own pursuit of a state Adoptions License. Don’t get me wrong, the agency we were pursuing this relationship with was (and still is) absolutely outstanding, with a wonderful history and performance record, and an incredible group of employees. However, through the vetting process, it was determined that the merge was just not a good fit for FCNI.

There were excellent lessons learned from this experience, however, and we ended up successfully securing our Adoptions Agency license. This experience also solidified in my mind a precept that has driven me in leading our organization over its first quarter-century, bigger is not necessarily better. Quality, excellent outcomes and effective community integration is much easier to achieve and maintain in a “Community-Based Organization” and not on a grand scale. In my observation of large, statewide organizations over time, I have absolutely seen this conviction be true.

Additionally, in 2012/2013, the Family Care Network was awarded the contract to operate the Independent Living Program (ILP) for San Luis Obispo County. Operating the SLO ILP had been a strategic goal of ours for many years, particularly since FCNI had been operating the ILP program in Santa Barbara County since 2011. Basically, this contract gave us the opportunity to serve all Transitional Age Youth in both counties, providing a seamless process for enrolling youth in transitional housing and providing uniform lifeskill development and education services across the continuum of foster and former foster youth. This implementation also consolidated administrative cost, allowing for greater resources to be applied to direct services.

We concluded our 25th year in grand form. We were well celebrated and supported, and felt extraordinarily humbled and proud to be part of improving the quality of life here on the Central Coast. For the year, we served 1,553 children, youth and families with a 90% success rate. We averaged about 175 employees, 100 foster parents and, remarkably, had 690 volunteers donate 17,952 hours.

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“Imagineering” – 2011/2012–Year 25

If you’ve been following our 30 year stories, you have probably gotten the notion that I’m kind of a dreamer/visionary type and a risk taker. I attribute these qualities to several things. First, I am pretty much wired this way and always have been. Second, I grew up with a lot of Disney influence, with my family being surrounded by the most amazing creative people who worked within the Disney enterprise. The gentleman who designed all of the Disney Parks, the creator of Donald Duck and the individual who replaced Walt when he passed away, and the person responsible for Disney films, were all close family friends. And my third influence was that of my incredibly creative and talented Mom. “Imagineering,” the process of engineering our dreams into reality, became embedded within me.

Because of my love for innovation, adventure and Imagineering, Strategic Planning has been a perfect fit. As the Family Care Network was moving towards its 25th anniversary, I can honestly say that our discipline, even obsession, with Strategic Planning has played an invaluable role in shaping, guiding and driving the fulfillment of our dreams!

Here is my very short version discussion about Strategic Planning. Simply said, it is a Disciplined Effort to produce fundamental Decisions and Actions that Shape and Guide what an organization Is, What it does and Why it does it!

Why we do it – it serves as a “Roadmap” to our future, consisting of three distinct elements: 1) Formulation of the organization’s future activities in light of changing external factors, 2) Development of a competitive, effective strategy to achieve the mission, and 3) Creation of an organizational structure which will deploy resources to successfully carry out its competitive strategy in fulfilling the mission.

With 25 years of Strategic Planning success, this was the year I chose to really improve the process by fully implementing “Adaptive Strategic Planning.” Given the ever-changing, dynamic world in which we work, I needed to employ a more effective planning process. Instead of the old approach of “making a plan and sticking to it,” which led to centralized strategic planning around fixed time horizons, Adaptive Planning is “setting a direction and testing to it,” treating the whole organization as a team that is experimenting its way to success. It was a bold move, a seachanger that I will never regret.

Adaptive Strategic Planning has proved itself to be a powerful, effective tool to carry out Imagineering!

Enough of the “academics” of strategic planning, 2011/2012 was a great demonstration year of putting this planning to work. For a long time, we had a strategic objective to be able to secure our own administrative headquarters. Towards this end, we ventured down many dead-end paths, but this did not thwart our efforts. In a traditional strategic planning process you would normally set a number of linear objectives, (i.e., target cash at hand, space requirements, a budget, geographic location, financing available, facility planning process, et cetera) each triggering a separate set of activities. In our adaptive process, it was quite different.

People knew about our desire to have our own administrative headquarters and were often making suggestions or attempting to help us. One of those folks was our company attorney and very good friend, Neil Tardiff. Neil and I had talked about this on several occasions, particularly about some property he was involved in developing. Unfortunately, when the economy tanked so did his development plans.

One day, I received a call from Neil asking to set up a meeting with a local developer who had acquired land out of a bankruptcy. Coincidentally, I had also received a proposal from another friend, Rudy Bachman, the owner of Specialty Construction Inc. (SCI) concerning some land he had heard was becoming available, with some estimates on what it would cost to build the size of building we thought we needed. With nothing to lose, one of our Board members at the time, Dick Morris, and I met with Neil and his developer friend. To my surprise, we were joined in this meeting by the developer’s Executive Administrator, also a longtime friend of Dick and I–providential.

During our meeting I was able to fully describe the Family Care Network and how we serve the community, and what I anticipated our property needs would be. We viewed a track map of the development, identified a lot which Neil and I thought would work best for us, shook hands and left with the understanding that they were going to “think about it.” Mind you, we never discussed price.

No sooner had Dick and I sat down over a cup of coffee to debrief about our conversation, than I received a call from Neil. His developer friend offered to sell us the parcel we liked, at his cost, and possibly cash back to us part of the transaction as a donation! WOW! WOW! WOW!

I ADAPTED our strategic plan rapidly and agreed to buy the property. To add intrigue to the story, our CFO, Bobbie Boyer, was on a long vacation and was unavailable for consultation. During our ensuing discussions, I learned that this was the property Rudy from SCI had spoken of and that he had an ongoing relationship with this developer. I soon engaged the services of MW Architects, SCI and Carol Florence from Oasis to pull together this project. Needless to say, Bobbie returned from her trip to a big surprise!

My point here is that our Strategic Planning process created the vision, while our adaptability allowed us to seize an immediate opportunity. There is so much more to this story, and it truly was “miraculous.” But what is important is that having our own administrative headquarters gave us 10,000 square feet of much needed additional space at less than the cost of what we were paying in lease and rental fees. It allowed us to serve our clients more effectively, with less cost, under one roof, with parking available and a much-needed conference/training center. Never underestimate the power of Imagination!

By the end of 2011/2012, we were steeped in facility design, the permitting process and financing. But most importantly, we served 1,473 children, youth and families through 13 programs with a 92% success rate. We averaged 150 employees per month, utilized 88 foster families, and had 630 volunteers donate 16,428 hours, while 2,198 individual donors and businesses financially contributed to our efforts.

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Narrative

Reaching New Heights – 2010/2011–Year 24

The Family Care Network has been built upon seven foundational principles: 1) stay Mission Focused, 2) always do what is Best for clients and the organization, 3) maintain the highest level of Integrity, 4) promote Accountability, 5) always work Collaboratively, 6) maintain excellent Customer Service, and 7) promote Creativity, Innovation and Imagination. These principles have proved to be an outstanding formula for success!

During our Year 24, we purposed to strengthen these core operating principles by establishing a much more robust Total Quality Management process. FCNI had grown to the point where we needed a full-time Quality Management Coordinator, so we hired one. The goal here was to put the organization under a higher resolution microscope to make sure that we were doing what we are supposed to, in the manner that we were expected to, and with the outcomes we sought to accomplish. This was a very ominous task. Program fidelity, contract, regulation and accreditation standards compliance, as well as adhering to our own policies and procedures was placed under scrutiny.

In my career, I have been involved in the hiring process of hundreds, probably several thousand, employees for FCNI and other organizations. I have been fortunate to have had a pretty good internal discernment about folks, but every once in awhile someone emerges whom you know is, without a doubt, exceptional. That was the case with our Quality Management Coordinator (QMC). Allie Loucks was being interviewed for a totally different position within the company. At the end of the interview, I turned to our COO and said “We need to have her on our team – but where?”

We had been discussing bringing on a full-time QMC, and had actually tried somebody, without success. Allie did not have the education or experience we thought we needed, but… Jon and I both saw incredible potential, and so we took a chance. I am delighted to say, we absolutely hit a home run; this lady far exceeded our expectations and has done an incredible job of carrying out her very critical responsibilities!

Our Central Coast region certainly does not compare to LA, San Francisco Bay area or Sacramento in terms of population or the degree and complexity of social problems and challenges. And yet, during this time period, the Family Care Network was one of the largest Transitional Housing and Therapeutic Foster Care providers in the state. This would eventually change as other agencies began to learn of new opportunities to serve their communities. This status and our agency’s reputation as a leader in the service areas, opened several very important opportunities for me to become involved in several very important public policy issues.

First, Congress passed the “Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act” at the end of 2008. This legislation paved the way for states to allow youth, ages 18-21, to remain in the foster care system until the age of 21 and continue to receive federal funding. Consequently, driven by pressure from numerous Youth Advocacy Organizations and Youth Services Providers like FCNI, California embarked on the creation of AB12. AB12 was California’s implementation of “Fostering Connections,” a substantial piece of legislation offering several important new paths for foster youth to receive support and services until age 21.

Early on, I was invited to participate in numerous workgroups and committees crafting programs and policy to be enacted in AB12. I was making two to four trips per month to Sacramento, the Bay Area or LA for much of the year working on this project. One of the areas I had the most influence in was the creation of the new Transitional Housing Plus-Foster Care (THP+ FC) Program, and program rate. I was able to introduce the TAY Services Best Practices handbook I helped develop with the California Alliance of Child & Family Services, as well as the program design model the Family Care Network used in our THPP and THP Plus programs. It was an interesting coalition of public and private representatives, sometimes very daunting and challenging, but in the end, quite productive.

Secondly, having been one of the principal scribes in the creation of AB 1380, I was invited to participate in a workgroup created by the California Department of Social Services, which had two objectives. First, to help the state fully understand what Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC) was, and two, create a program model on which to create an appropriate state ITFC Rate. I don’t hesitate in saying that this was one of the most productive, informative and pleasant state-sponsored workgroups I have participated in. At its conclusion, an “interim” ITFC rate was established and I wrote a comprehensive Therapeutic Foster Care program model which would later be used in the Katie A litigation settlement process.

Finally, because the Family Care Network had become a recognized leader in TAY Housing and ITFC, we were being inundated with request for information, consultation and visits to our facility. Over the year, we engaged with over a dozen public and private organizations.

The high point of 2010/2011 for me was to participate in a presentation about Therapeutic Foster Care to representatives of the US Congress in Washington DC, which included my presenting the FFTA’s “Foster Care Champion Award”to Congresswoman Karen Bass.

We finished the year having served 1094 children, youth and families through 13 programs with an incredible 94% success rate. FCNI averaged over 150 employees, utilized 85 foster families and were blessed to have 675 volunteers donate 18,096 hours of volunteer service! 2059 individuals, businesses or organizations financially contributed to our efforts as well.

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Narrative

Economics & Creativity – 2009-2010–Year 23

Organizational leadership and management training don’t usually include the following, but they should: “Challenge and adversity are meant to help you know who you are. Storms hit your weakness, but unlock your true strength.” (Roy T. Bennett). Nothing better reveals the character and strength of an organization than how it navigates unexpected storms.

Not that far behind us and certainly not forgotten, the Great Recession was devastating. In less than 18 months, 8.4 million workers lost their jobs, the unemployment rate more than doubled, and real income for middle-class workers dropped by nearly 12 percent. The Recession also had a crippling effect on public sector finances. Funding for essential human services and health and safety programs was brutalized. No one except the ultra-wealthy were spared.

As a not-for-profit operating on a shoestring budget without an endowment or rainy day fund to fall back on, the recession really was a storm that slammed full blast into our weakness – finances! Having gone better than a decade without any Cost of Living Adjustment in our rate-base programs, we were now hit with a 10% rates cut. Contract amounts were frozen or reduced, grant makers were tightening their purse strings while competition for limited funding soared, and there wasn’t a lot of extra cash in people’s pockets to support organizations like ours.

At this point, I told my Board and Executive Committee that we would not falter, we would ride this out and figure out a way to maintain service levels without compromising quality or outcomes, and without laying anyone off; and then I swallowed hard!

Over the years, I have always felt a special gift of faith, strength and resiliency in times like this. In fact, I’ve always viewed challenges as opportunities and this was no different. And so I threw down the gauntlet and summoned my most effective weapon: SYNERGY!

There are few things that excite me more than mobilizing the collective genius of the group process. This approach has absolutely been one of the “secret ingredients” in the Family Care Network cauldron as we have endeavored to brew up success in people’s lives. And it was now the time to re-deploy this weapon.

In January of 2009, the storm clouds were beginning to gather. The Governor’s proposed budget was an ominous sign. Throughout the spring “budget wars,” it was clear that many were going to be left fighting to survive. In July of that year, I took the time at one of our quarterly all-staff meetings to let everyone know what we were facing, and encouraged everyone in the organization to begin thinking about ways that we could reduce our expenses without compromising services or laying off staff. We also let folks know that salaries would be frozen and reduced for new-hires, and that we were placing a hiring freeze on certain positions.

Several months later, I convened a half-day, all-staff brainstorming session–which was remarkable! The creativity, innovation and positive energy people displayed was not only amazing, it was incredibly productive. As a result of this effort, I was able to produce a comprehensive six page strategy, consisting of 65 activities within eight cost categories necessary to accomplish our goal to reduce expenses without compromising services or having to layoff anyone. Our survival was now dependent on rapid response.

Given the urgency of our circumstances, we really did put our foot to the metal and thrust forward full steam ahead. Our aggressive plan included cost-cutting measures in staffing, travel and transportation, meetings, office space, IT/equipment/facilities, supplies and anything else that didn’t fit within these categories; plus efforts to maximize revenues.

This process really caused us to put our entire operation under the microscope. We were able to improve efficiencies in multiple areas, consolidate, eliminate redundancies and improve worker productivity. For example, we improved how we assigned staff to cases in order to reduce travel and mileage expenses. We renegotiated facility leases or found new, less expensive locations. We improved automation, infrastructure and IT support to allow greater staff mobility, increase staff productivity while also reducing mileage reimbursement. We significantly ramped up digital documentation to reduce paper and copying cost. We implemented a much more thorough risk-management training program designed to reduce our very expensive Workmen’s Compensation expenses. Basically, we reduced or eliminated any “non-essential” expenditure. We also did a much more aggressive recruitment effort for volunteers, interns, tutors and mentors to help us accomplish our mission without additional staff cost.

As you can imagine, I also became much more engaged in advocacy with our state legislators regarding program rates and funding. In spite of the dire economic circumstances, a small group of us were successful in preventing the Legislature and Governor from cutting the funding to our transitional housing programs for foster youth.

Yes, there were some painful cuts which negatively impacted our employees–but nobody lost their job! And after all was said and done, it really was a positive experience for the Family Care Network. We came out of it much more efficient, cost-effective and cost-sensitive.

One of the most valuable lessons from this challenge was learning the importance of SYNERGY. We had universal participation and buy-in–a true sense of collective ownership. Everyone did their part in creating and delivering solutions; it was a quintessential team effort!

And the most remarkable outcome through this struggle, was that we were able to accomplish our goal to ride out the storm without compromising the quality or effectiveness of our programs, and without laying off staff. Our program outcomes for 2009/2010 were amazing. We served 1,324 children, youth and families through 14 programs with a 93% success rate! We averaged 160 plus employees per month and we had a record 1,085 volunteers donate over 28,000 hours of time to our mission!

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Reputation – 2008/2009–Year 22

Under the umbrella of the California Alliance of Child & Family Services, the Family Care Network was becoming much more visible. Jon Nibbio, our COO, and I were invited early on to work with the plaintiffs attorneys in the Katie A Litigation because of our successful Wraparound and Therapeutic Foster Care programs. Since the early 2000s, we had been invited and presented workshops or presentations at multiple statewide conferences, covering topics such as effective collaboration, Therapeutic Foster Care, Transitional Housing and Wraparound Services. Our organization was becoming recognized as an industry leader and expert provider in California.

I find it rather interesting how this recognition came to be. Up to this point, it was not a strategic initiative–it just happened! I attribute this newly acquired identity to several key factors.

First, our organization has always been driven by our mission, “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families…”, and by achieving the very best outcomes for our clients. We have always painstakingly researched which practices were producing the best outcomes coupled with religious tracking for implementing ongoing improvement to our performance. In fact, we were producing amazing outcomes with the most difficult, challenging and high-needs children, youth and families in the system!

Second, word-of-mouth–people were talking about our organization, whether we knew them or not. On a routine basis, we were receiving calls from other counties and providers wanting to come visit our organization to learn what we were doing so successfully. Counties–large and small–as well as providers, were interested in contracting with us for program and service development consultation or just getting guidance for free!

Third, I was aggressively engaged in Advocacy and Promotion. For a number of years, the Family Care Network had been developing and distributing a very effective, informative and, frankly, beautiful, Annual Report. We distribute hundreds of these each year. I have always made it my mandate to meet individually with all of our local, state and federal legislators, as well as community leaders. Besides presenting our ideas, needs and issues, I always provide them with a copy of our Annual Report.

Additionally, being involved at the state level with policy and legislation development has provided an awesome platform for presenting our programs, successes and best practices.

Fourth, and it bears repeating, Collaboration has been an essential element to everything we do at the Family Care Network. Our agency is very blessed and fortunate to have had incredible, competent County partners. Consequently, our “collective reputation” has gone forth into a broader audience.

Fifth, I was been given the humbling opportunity to provide Leadership through the California Alliance. Beginning as Chair of the Family-Based Services & Emerging Opportunities Committee in 2007, I eventually served for seven years on their Board, including a term as President. This experience opened more doors than I could have ever imagined, greatly expanding the Family Care Network’s scope of influence.

There was another interesting piece to this puzzle which emerged during this timeframe. Our Board of Directors felt strongly that it was necessary and beneficial for our organization if I could focus more of my attention and expertise “outside the organization!” In order to accomplish this, the Board established a Chief Operations Officer (COO) position, and elevated our Director of Clinical Services, Jon Nibbio, into the role. Though I never disengaged from the day-to-day operations of the organization, I now had the freedom and confidence to immerse myself in state and federal issues.

For several years now, the Family Care Network had employed a domain structure in our Strategic Plan based on the acronym SERVE. This represents: Superior-programs, Excellent-tools, Reputation-of-integrity, Value-people and Eye-on-the-future. Given the organization’s increased visibility and opportunities, 2008/2009 was our year to focus on Reputation-of-Integrity.

It is one thing to be recognized for quality services and effectiveness, but it is another to effectively manage ongoing quality and effectiveness. Now that the organization was under the view of so many, we really ramped up this elevated effort.

Some of the initiatives in our Reputation-of-Integrity Strategic Plan domain included:

  1. Continuing to make improvements in our Total Quality Management efforts, making sure we had the proper staffing and improving internal auditing procedures;
  2. Effectively prepare for our reaccreditation process, reconstituting our accreditation workgroup and scrutinizing policy and procedure;
  3. Improving Family Care Network “Image Management” by establishing a clear branding policy, updating and training staff on agency messaging and talking points, trademarking of FCNI logos, and expanding the use of TV, print, radio and social media;
  4. Expand state and national exposure by providing workshops, keynote addresses, consultation services and increase the marketing of FCNI materials; and
  5. Establish better procedures for reporting outcomes and company data.

Under our Strategic Plan Domain Superior-Programs, “Performance Improvement” has been a major strategic objective. In our Year 22, special attention was given to effectively using analytics to identify improvement areas and implement necessary changes.

Fiscal Year 2008/2009 ended with a very contentious state budget process produced by the threat of massive budget deficits resulting from the Great Recession. Never before had I experienced such hostility and blatant disregard for vulnerable children, youth and families in need, the mentally ill, the elderly or the sick. All this to say, I knew we were heading into very rough waters in the years to come, and I began preparing our organization for a “worst-case scenario.”

Nonetheless, we had another stellar year in terms of making a positive impact on the lives of our children, youth and families. We served 1803 clients through 15 programs with a 94% success rate. We averaged 168 employees per month, utilized 82 foster families and had 703 volunteers donate nearly 15,000 hours of time working with our clients or volunteering within the organization.

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Managing Growth – 2007/2008–Year 21

From fiscal year 2005/2006 to the end of fiscal year 2006/2007, the Family Care Network was serving 51% more children, youth and families. And our year 21 would produce another 17% in growth. On one hand, it was wonderful that we were able to serve more children, youth and families within our community, but on the other hand, managing our growth and maintaining program fidelity and efficacy was absolutely mission-critical.

I want to digress for a moment and share the management philosophy and practice that I have applied throughout my professional career. I have always operated on the premise that an organization is like a living organism which needs to be fed and nurtured in order to grow and be healthy. To borrow the words of Bob Dylan, “That which is not busy being born is busy dying.” My job has been to make sure that the Family Care Network is “busy being born” – it’s all about managed growth. Growth, however, is not just about size or capacity, it is about efficiencies, improved outcomes and results.

Another way of stating my practice is “Managed Chaos!” I believe it is necessary to interject change which produces chaos in order to prevent organizational stagnancy. Change-chaos must be balanced with responsible management to maintain organizational order. Effective Management is a three legged stool: 1) Managing Change, 2) Managing Complexity, and 3) Managing Performance. Our Year 21 was about aligning and effectively managing change, complexity and performance.

Beginning around 2000, we implemented a very comprehensive Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQI) wherein we have established indicators to measure just about everything we do; programs, training, finance, HR, recruitment, volunteers, and even IT. The CQI plan and our dynamic Strategic Planning process provided the tools for orchestrating our growth management process.

One of the primary objectives from this year was to update all of our Policy, Procedure and Operations manuals. Even though most of these were done during our Accreditation process, we realized that this is really an ongoing process in order to keep up with changes in regulations, law and best practices. Ten manuals were updated, plus, we implemented a system for staff to have digital access to these documents, eliminating the need for reprinting whenever changes and updates were completed.

Infrastructure improvements were also in order. We updated computer systems, communications and workspace. We had outgrown our office building but were fortunate enough to acquire contiguous space to accommodate our growing workforce. It was also at this time that we decided to aggressively pursue the development of long-term, permanent facilities. We needed a solution to hedge against increased space demands and escalating rental rates.

In addition to the CQI as a tool to monitor program fidelity and results, we ramped up our Internal Auditing efforts. This was a critical step towards “audit proofing” all of our medical records to ensure there would be no disallowed billing. It was also our goal to maintain the highest level of compliance with state licensing regulations as well as accreditation standards. In nearly 20 years as a state approved Children’s Specialty Mental Health provider, we have not had one disallowed billing entry requiring a repayment.

The exorbitant cost of rental housing on the Central Coast was also putting a strain on our transitional housing program budgets. Consequently, we launched another effort to secure one or two additional housing units, especially mindful that the process can take one or two years to complete. We were specifically looking for a housing unit in the city of San Luis Obispo, while we waited for state approval for property we secured in Atascadero.

Since we were now conducting two major fundraising events per year and were desirous of growing community integration and support of our efforts, I decided to enhance this process by contracting for three AmeriCorps workers. This turned out to be a fantastic decision. The individuals who were selected were incredible, extremely competent and added greatly to our efforts. One AmeriCorps worker, Shay Peck, a retired schoolteacher, went on to volunteer for many years, and is now a member of our Board of Directors. Remarkably, the other AmeriCorps workers ended up becoming FCNI employees after their term of service. All of them made huge contributions to our growth and efficiency.

Also during this timeframe, I had the opportunity to participate in writing legislation sponsored by the then State Senate President Pro tem, Darrell Steinberg. SB 1380 took the original Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC) statutes and rewrote them the to conform to federal regulations and integrate “Best Practices.” This effort amounted to a major rewrite of old, outdated statutes, and, quite frankly, it was a lot of fun. The bill was passed by both houses of the legislature and was signed into law by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. My participation in this project also opened many new opportunities to be engaged in policy and legislation development at the state level.

It is a good reminder at this point to emphasize that all of the efforts initiated and completed in our Year 21 year were essentially about one thing–fulfilling our mission to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our community. You can have the most efficient organization or the best legislation, but if it is not making a positive difference in the lives of the most vulnerable, trauma-impacted children, youth and families, it’s just busyness. Our 21st year was about improving our infrastructure and processes so that we were able to greatly improve our productivity!
In 200 7/2008, we served 2342 children, youth and families through 15 distinct programs. Remarkably, our aggregate success rate for all programs was 94%! We averaged over 140 employees per month and had 76 foster families provide care. Amazingly, we also had 650 volunteers donating 9140 hours during the year, and 1388 individuals contribute to our organization financially.