- Posted by Famcare
- On May 23, 2017
- 0 Comments
From the mid-1990s forward, working in the Human Services field has really been rather exciting. There has been so many positive changes–the advent of many innovative programs, additional funding sources and the initiation of really effective best practices. What’s been exciting for me and the Family Care Network has been the opportunity to not only help lead in developing some of these changes, but also to broaden our base of services to better meet local needs and improve our Children’s System of Care.
One of the more significant improvements to the mental health world was the passing of Proposition 4, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). MHSA was passed by voters in November 2004, which initiated a very arduous, thorough process of creating a multi-program, multi-year, county implementation plan. This process was led by Dr. Karen Baylor, currently the Deputy Director of the State Department of Health Care Services. At the time, Dr. Baylor was the newly appointed Behavioral Health Director. Under Dr. Baylor, we took a very inclusive approach, involving many stakeholders, and it took the better part of two years to complete and gain State approval.
I was privileged to represent the Family Care Network throughout this effort and help guide the development of the Full Services Partnership Program (FSP) for children and youth. FSP borrowed much of the program design from our Wraparound Program model which I had previously written, offering similar services to families not qualified for Wraparound. FSP is a partnership between SLO County Behavioral Health and FCNI where each agency plays a distinctive clinical, therapeutic role. The program began early in 2007 in the Southern SLO County region, but quickly expanded to become a countywide program. Since inception, FSP has filled a much-needed gap in services.
In 2004, the Family Care Network was the first agency in California to launch the Multi-Dimensional Therapeutic Foster Care (MTFC) evidence-based program model. MTFC was being touted as a very effective family-based treatment approach which followed a very prescriptive model. After several years of providing MTFC, it became very clear that this program, which was primarily designed for probation youth in rural Oregon, did not work effectively with the population of youth FCNI was serving. Based on that, our Social Services Director, Probation Chief and I made the decision to stop providing MTFC. In the alternative, we launched our Wraparound Foster Care (WFC) program with the same program objective as MTFC.
WFC is designed as an alternative to institutional care with a focus on preparing foster youth for family reunification or a permanent placement. Since its inception, we have served 215 foster youth with a 95% success rate. Needless to say, it has been an incredibly successful program.
The Family Care Network successfully purchased its first housing unit in 2005, a process that took well over a year and a half years to complete. Again, due to the demand for our Transitional Housing Services, and the limited availability of rentable affordable housing, we pursued a second housing unit. Since our first apartment complex was in South County, it was determined that our next one needed to be “north of the Cuesta grade.” We have always maintained a fairly large caseload of clients in northern San Luis Obispo County, so looking in this area just made sense.
Turning to our community partners, we found a realtor who was familiar with both Atascadero and Paso Robles real estate markets. The next challenge was securing housing through the State EHAPCD. This process was challenging for two reasons: first, we needed to locate an available property that met all of the state requirements and was under the $1,000,000 ceiling allowed for these applications. And second, we had to find a seller who was willing to enter into a very long escrow! As we learned from our first purchase, it can take over a year to jump through all of the hoops and obstacles the state requires.
In less than a month, we found a property that met both of these conditions. It was a four-unit property located in Atascadero, right on the edge of the downtown section, close to transportation, shopping and services. It really was an ideal location. My staff worked feverishly to prepare and submit the usual voluminous EHAPCD application which was eventually approved and funded; but like the first time around, it took a little persuasion from our local state legislator! FCNI now owned two housing complexes: one a four-unit and the other a five-unit. We were on a roll.
Another public-private service opened up this year when we teamed up with County Behavioral Health and several school districts to begin providing School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) through a series of special classrooms designed to keep kids within their school setting while receiving intensive services and supports to help them succeed. Behavioral Health provided a therapist, while the Family Care Network provided Rehabilitation Specialist who worked full-time in each classroom. The SBMH program has been tremendously successful and now reaches into all County school districts.
Our year 20 was also a real growth year in terms of children, youth and families served. We served 2,020, our highest number served yet. Virtually every program was very busy, but, more importantly, each one produced excellent outcomes. We had an aggregate 86% success rate, we averaged around 125 employees, and had over 80 foster families caring for children and youth. Additionally, nearly 400 individuals volunteered their time helping the Family Care Network fulfill its mission.