Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento
On November 10, 1998, the 1998-1999 Sacramento County Grand Jury visited the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento, located at 3555 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento.
The Children's Receiving Home (CRH) has provided Sacramento County with short-term shelter care for abused and neglected children since 1944; the County contracts with CRH for this service. CRH has been in its present location since 1964 and is governed by a 23-member board of directors. CRH currently has 70 beds for children ranging in age from two to 17 years old. The Grand Jury was informed that 60 to 80 percent of these children are brought to CRH by law enforcement at the recommendation of Child Protective Services (CPS). The Grand Jury was informed that as a result of the CPS policy of removing children from abusive, neglectful home situations, CRH takes in 1,200 children per year. CRH provides children with medical, dental and psychiatric care, and offers education during the regular school year under an agreement with the San Juan Unified School District. The average stay is 30 to 35 days. Children are then either returned to their homes, put into the custody of other family members, or placed into foster care.
The Grand Jury was told that the annual operating budget for CRH was $2.2 million. Two-thirds of the budget comes from the State Foster Care Rates Bureau; the remainder comes from the Sacramento County General Fund and from fund-raising efforts. CRH is conducting a "Capital Campaign" to raise $3 million to renovate, remodel, and expand CRH to accommodate 100 children. The Building Industry Association, through its "Home Aid" project, is building a dormitory for the youngest children. At the time of its visit, the Grand Jury was informed that construction was expected to start within a few weeks. Other renovations and expansions include building new classrooms, modifying the existing fence surrounding CRH's property, and creating a separate, secure entrance for children being brought to CRH. The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has also awarded CRH a $250,000 grant for facility improvements.
At the time of the Grand Jury's visit, there were 70 staff, two-thirds of whom are child care and social workers. In addition, there were approximately 70 volunteers serving as dormitory, activity, school, and administrative aides.
During its visit, the Grand Jury observed that staff at CRH seem very committed to the welfare of the children. Every effort is being made to enable the children to transition into a new environment.
Findings and Recommendations
Finding #1: There is a portion of CRH property (between CRH and the adjacent Discovery Museum) that currently is not in use and which is unsuitable for structures.
Recommendation #1: The Grand Jury recommends that the CRH consider negotiating with the Discovery Museum to maximize use of this property to the benefit of both agencies.
Finding #2: Children attend school at CRH, but no classes are held during the summer months.
Recommendation #2: Because children enter the CRH year-round, the Grand Jury supports summer instruction for them and recommends that CRH explore alternatives to the San Juan Unified School District (which has no summer school program) to ensure that all children entering CRH are given academic instruction no matter what time of year they arrive.
Finding #3: The rear portion of CRH property abuts Interstate 80. There is only a chain-link fence separating the property from the highway. During its visit, the Grand Jury was informed that CRH is in discussions with the California Department of Transportation regarding building a solid sound barrier; there is, however, a difference of opinion as to who should pay for the barrier.
Recommendation #3: The Grand Jury recommends construction of a solid sound barrier.
A Response is Required
The California Penal Code requires the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Board of Directors of the Children's Receiving Home to respond in writing to the Grand Jury's recommendations contained in this report, and to submit their responses to the presiding judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 30, 1999.