- Posted by Famcare
- On December 28, 2016
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Family Care Network, Inc. was officially incorporated on August 21, 1987, but our story began long before this date. After graduating college, I went to work as a Deputy Probation Officer where I spent the next 15+ years. I quickly rose through the ranks of Probation administration, first as a juvenile camp/ranch superintendent, then eight years as Chief Deputy over Juvenile Services, and finally, I became Chief Probation Officer at age 34. Serving as the Chief was a wonderful experience, but it left an insatiable drive within me to improve the way California took care of its children and youth with behavioral and emotional issues.
Somewhere along my journey, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation on Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) by research psychologist Robert P. Hawkins from West Virginia University. I was immediately a new convert of his research and set out with a determination to bring TFC to California as an alternative to institutional care, I just didn’t know how. Dr. Hawkins’ research was conducted with Presley Ridge, a nonprofit serving children and youth on the East Coast. Knowing this, I determined that I needed to be engaged with such an organization and eventually start my own.
After serving as Chief Probation Officer for about a year, I was extended an offer by a large nonprofit organization to set up private foster care services in any community they were not already serving. I chose San Luis Obispo for a number of reasons. First, I had family and professional friends in the area. And second, and most importantly, there was a substantial need for foster families in the area, as there were well over 100 foster youth placed out of the county in group homes due to a lack of local care. I made the effort to meet with key leaders with Social Services and Probation, and learned that both agencies strongly supported my plan.
But my decision was bittersweet. Bitter, because I quickly learned that the organization who hired me was corrupt and lacked any integrity (they would eventually be closed by the state). Being a quick study, I learned everything I could about running a private Foster Family Agency (FFA) and jumped ship to launch my own agency. And sweet, because I had established an incredible cadre of dedicated foster families and 100% backing from the county placement agencies to launch my own company. Amazingly, both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties agreed to license my families and turn them back over to me once I became licensed as an FFA! Our collaborative network was forming.
I quickly assembled our first Board of Directors and incorporated Family Care Network, Inc. by August of 1987. I chose the name specifically because: “Family” is our most important social institution and every kid needs one; “Care” encompasses so much heart and passion; and, “Network” is connecting individuals together for a greater good. Family Care Network captured my vision in three powerful words.
Strong relationships have always been a pillar of the Family Care Network’s success, and we wouldn’t be here today without them. After leaving the “bad guys”, I had no job and no income. But because of a relationship I had developed, I was given the opportunity to work on a ranch owned by Joey and Eldeen Scolari, owners of Scolari’s Markets, whenever I was wanted. This opportunity was a lifesaver, to say the least, to my family and I, and the beginning of a long-term relationship!
After completing our incorporation, state and federal tax exemption requirements, I applied to become an FFA. To do so, I needed an office. Incredibly, the gentleman who owned the office where the other organization had been located gave me that office–rent free–until the new agency was on its feet. And it gets better.
Because the agency I had worked for was “dirty,” state licensing heavily scrutinized my license application, and was very slow to act on it. Frustrated by this, I reached out to the Directors of our County Social Services departments, individuals I’d come to know and trust, for some assistance or guidance. Within days, I received a phone call from State Senator Ken Maddy–not a legislative assistant, but the Senator himself! I explained my situation, goals, objectives, background, et cetera, and he responded, “Okay, I’ll look into it.” The very next day, I received a phone call from a Supervisor from Community Care Licensing who said, “You must have friends in very high places – you will receive your FFA license tomorrow!” Wow, the power of networking and relationships.
So, by December, 1997, we were incorporated, tax exempt, state licensed and beginning to convert the families the counties had been “holding” for me. When we started, there was Linda, an MSW Social Worker, and me! Within a month or so, I hired an 18-year-old woman to be the part-time receptionist/secretary for our SLO office and a satellite office in Bishop, located in the County where I had been Chief of Probation.
It was really a blessing to be able to certify the handful of wonderful foster families whom I had recruited for the other organization. One of those families, Ann and Ray Ward, are still caring for children with Family Care Network today–that’s 30 years of dedicated service! Within our first month, we had about 10 families online and 12 to 15 children in care. The engine was now moving, and it has never stopped…but not without some challenges along the way.
The third month we were in operation, our Social Worker was offered a supervisor job by the County. I understood why she took the position–it was a promotion which included better pay and benefits; undeniably a great move for her. So there I was, case managing about 15 foster kids, recruiting families, writing reports, doing all our accounting and filing, recruiting a new social worker, with only the help of a part-time high school student. Needless to say, I was working lots and lots of hours, including evenings, weekends, 24/7 – and this schedule continued for about six months before I found an amazing LCSW Social Worker, Ken Schwartzenberger, who shared my vision for Therapeutic Foster Care.
Finally, the Family Care Network’s first year was in the bag. It was a year which began with significant challenges but ended with great energy and the emergence of an embryonic, but strong, healthy network of families and community partners. The Family Care Network was born through the power of relationships, collaboration and a very generous community!
In 1986, Jim Roberts left a job as Chief Probation Officer in Bishop California and moved his family to the Central Coast.
After working for a private Foster Family Agency that had some issues with integrity, Jim decided to start Family Care Network.
Jim Roberts started Family Care Network on August 21st 1987