Saturday, February 4, 2017

[Santa Barbara County] Supervisors Considering Girls-Specific Residential Programming for Juvenile Offenders

There is no residential treatment program for delinquent girls in Santa Barbara County and the Board of Supervisors has asked the Probation Department to consider options for one, given the success of the boys-only Los Prietos Boys Camp.
A county Grand Jury report on Los Prietos Boys Camp called the program for delinquent young men “well-run and constitutes a major community asset.”
The June 2016 report requested that the county explore the possibility of adding a program for girls.
Most of the county’s delinquent girls, Chief Probation Officer Guadalupe Rabago said, are in group homes as opposed to foster care.
Twenty are at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, where they receive some sort of education or programming seven days a week, said Deputy Chief Probation Officer Steven DeLira.
The department reviewed three options for residential programs for girls going through the probation system that are intended to reduce recidivism, continue mental-health care and enhance current programming.
“Daily Choices” at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall would be a seven-day-a-week program that would cost the department $600,000, while “Luz de Esperanza” at the facility would be a 90-day, court-ordered commitment program with a $2 million one-time cost and $1.1 million ongoing.
Rabago put the price of the girls’ camp concept at $3.2 million, and said programming also would focus on developing the girls’ personal strengths, discipline, bonding and accountability.
He said the department wouldn’t be implementing the grand jury’s recommendation because “it’s not warranted or it’s not reasonable.”
Programs that work well for boys don’t necessarily work well for girls, he said.
“Probation data does not support a camp program for girls, even if the funding could be redirected as a commitment program,” he told the board. “We believe that the girls should be kept in the most home-like environment.”
Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf asserted that the Probation Department had not fully investigated opportunities for an “out-of-institutional” and “residential, high-treatment setting” for girls, calling the department’s decision incredibly disappointing.
The board directed Probation and other departments to work more closely and further study residential treatment programs.
January 28, 2017
Noozhawk, Santa Barbara
By Sam Goldman

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