- Posted by Famcare
- On March 14, 2017
- 0 Comments
In our prior two years, the Family Care Network had been extensively involved in innovative collaboration, brainstorming and imagining ways to improve services to children, youth and families throughout the Central Coast. But as they say “talk is cheap; action is everything”, the time came to begin turning planning into practice.
There’s one thing I have learned having worked in the system for nearly five decades, government works very, very slowly! A good case in point, the state’s Intensive Treatment Foster Care program (ITFC). The original pilot legislation was passed in FY 1991/92. In July 1995, ITFC finally became a statewide program, effective 1/1/1996. Having missed out on becoming one of the pilot agencies, we were anxious to get rolling on implementation here on the Central Coast.
To no one’s surprise–there was a state bureaucratic process to hurdle! Procedures for becoming approved had to be developed, the counties needed to be educated, a rate reimbursement structure, operational guidelines had to be created, and blah, blah, blah. Add to that an entire county-level approval process, and 18 months later we became an official ITFC program provider, the third in California.
Actually, the incubation of ITFC was really a healthy thing. It required the county to really learn about the program and what the Family Care Network was already doing with Therapeutic Foster Care. But more importantly, this process solidified a commitment from Social Services, Probation and Behavioral Health to not only support the program, but to work together to make it effective. The ITFC planning process laid an amazing foundation of relationships which made Therapeutic Foster Care in San Luis Obispo County the “flagship” collaborative model statewide!
At this point in our storied history, I do need to acknowledge representatives from our partner agencies who were instrumental in transforming not only our organization, but the local Children’s System of Care. From Social Services: Debby Jeter, Deputy Director and John Garoogian, Division Manager. Debby was an aggressive visionary who would move on to become the Director of Children’s Services for San Francisco County, and John was a very seasoned, thoughtful, scrutinizing detail guy who loved to play the “devil’s advocate.” From Probation: Kim Barrett, Chief Probation Officer, and Jim Salio, Juvenile Division Chief who would become the next Probation Chief. These individuals made sure that the needs of Juvenile Justice youth were equally and effectively served, but were also very committed to collaboration, partnerships and multi-agency service delivery.
Finally, from Mental Health Services was one of our most ardent supporters, and a real champion for children suffering from mental illness, Brad Sunseri, Director of Youth Services. Brad was amazing! Not only did he play a major role in implementing significant Children’s Services Network initiatives, like the regionalized SAFE Services locations, but he was probably the most influential and innovative person in forging strong collaborative partnerships in order to produce the best outcomes for children and youth. Brad was a real visionary who made an indelible positive impact on the local Children’s System of Care.
As I previously mentioned, the Family Care Network began experimenting with Wraparound Services four years earlier through our WISH Program, “Wraparound Intensive Services in-Home.” In 1997, State Senator Heidi Solis, who would later become our first female, Hispanic US Labor Secretary, was successful in getting Senate Bill 163 through the legislature and signed by the Governor. SB 163 was the “pilot” program to allow EMQ to partner with Santa Clara County to launch Wraparound as an official state sanctioned program. The bill also put into place a mechanism for implementing SB 163 Wraparound on a statewide basis.
Being intimately familiar with Wraparound, I was successful in initiating the process under the umbrella of the Children’s Services Network Council, to implement this program in San Luis Obispo County. I invited the Wraparound experts from EMQ to do a half-day presentation at CSN. It was a tremendous success–everyone was very enthusiastic. Soon, a group of us including our current COO, Jon Nibbio, at that time a Probation Manager, and Brad Sunseri from Mental Health, headed to San Diego for the first California Wraparound Conference. After that, the arduous work began to become state approved, a task which would take almost two years to complete.
Another important collaboration forged at that time was the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council. The Probation Department had received state funds for Prevention and Restorative Justice. One of the first projects approved through this collaboration was the Community Work Services program. The Family Care Network was chosen to deliver the service, building upon our success with the Mainstream Youth Core and the significant relationships we had developed countywide. Under this program, we were able to provide important and meaningful community work opportunities for Probation youth with court ordered service hours, which also included victim reparation services. CWS, as we referred to it, continued for five years before funding ended and the program was absorbed by the Probation Department.
The San Luis Obispo County collaborative practices were really becoming fruitful, but the best was yet to come. Family Care Network had an excellent year in 1997/98, serving 338 children, youth and families with an 89% success rate!