DATE: June 20, 2006
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: Fostering Hope for Deaf Foster Teens
Currently, deaf foster children in San Diego County’s child welfare system who require a higher level of care are placed in group homes out-of-county or out-of-state, often as far away as Florida and Maryland. These out-of-county placements incur significant financial costs for the County and severe emotional costs for the children, who are separated from their family and community. Additionally, family reunification efforts can be extremely complicated due to the distance.
SUPERVISOR GREG COX AND SUPERVISOR RON ROBERTS
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to work with San Diego Youth and Community Services (SDYCS) to establish San Diego County’s first Deaf Group Home for teenage foster youth.
- Establish appropriations of $200,000 based on fund balance available in the general fund to allocate to SDYCS for the purchase of a home to be used as a group home for up to six deaf foster teens.
- Find that this grant serves a public purpose.
- Authorize the Chief Financial Officer to execute an agreement with SDYCS establishing terms for receipt of these funds.
The funds for this request are not included in the Chief Administrative Officer’s Fiscal Year 2005-06 Proposed Operational Plan. If approved, this request will result in a one-time cost of $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2005-06, but will generate long term operating savings to the County of approximately $200,000 annually.
Deaf youth constitute one of San Diego County’s most vulnerable populations and suffer discrimination in many forms. They are abused and neglected at significantly higher rates than their hearing counterparts. Each year in San Diego County about 12-15 deaf children are removed from their homes and placed in out-of-home care. Deaf children have often suffered a lifetime of ongoing and severe abuse and have experienced multiple barriers to communicating with caretakers or those who could protect them. Additionally, there is a lack of culturally and linguistically accessible treatment services for the deaf community. As a result, deaf children are often older and more emotionally and behaviorally disturbed than hearing victims by the time they come into care. At any one time, four to six of these children require group home level care.
Currently, deaf children requiring this higher level of care are placed in group homes out-of-county or out-of-state, often as far away as Florida and Maryland. These out-of-county placements incur significant financial costs for the County and severe emotional costs for the children, who are separated from their family and community. Additionally, reunification efforts can be extremely complicated due to the distance.
The County of San Diego has a unique opportunity to work with an esteemed community partner to create this region’s very first group home for deaf foster youth. The primary goal in Child Welfare is to reunite foster youth with their families. Sending our most vulnerable children away from their families, friends, and familiar environments is not only a costly process for the taxpayers of San Diego County, but it diminishes almost any hope of reuniting these children with their families. In 2005, the County of San Diego spent more than $530,000 to place five children outside of San Diego in an appropriate level of care. It is estimated that the cost to place these same children locally would be only $338,000. These financial and emotional costs will only continue to grow unless we take action today to make a positive change in these children’s lives.
In 2004, San Diego Youth and Community Services (SDYCS), along with several other partners, formed the Southern California Deaf Group Home Collaborative. Approximately 20 individuals from organizations including Deaf Mental Health Services, Deaf Community Services, San Diego County Child Welfare, San Diego County Children’s Mental Health, San Diego County Juvenile Forensics, Alliance Health Care Foundation, and Signs of Life have collaborated to create a culturally affirmative and nurturing home for our region’s abused and neglected deaf foster teens. Additionally, the collaborative has received input from La Familia, an organization out of New Mexico that currently operates one of the nation’s best Deaf Group Homes in Albuquerque.
SDYCS is a nationally-recognized non profit organization that has helped change the lives of over 500,000 children since its inception in 1970. SDYCS administers 14 different programs including comprehensive services for abused and neglected children, emergency shelter and medical aid for homeless youth, group homes and transitional housing, substance abuse/mental health treatment and prevention, family assessment services, foster care and adoption support, independent living skills, education for parenting and pregnant teens, and gang prevention.
Our Board, through action today, can bring these kids home.
Supervisor, First District
Supervisor, Fourth District