I am a big fan of this program as it addresses the issue by encouraging responsibility and hard work as the key to changing the lives of the homeless, and this article from the Sacramento News & Review reports on that.
“There are no black robes or funny square hats with tassels. They (mercifully) do not play “Pomp and Circumstance.” But, graduation day at Cottage Housing’s Serna Village fires on all cylinders in the “hope and accomplishment” department.
“Taking care of kids is hard. Taking care of kids when you’re addicted to drugs and alcohol is harder. Throw in homelessness, and it is near hopeless. But this is a common starting point for families when they arrive at Serna Village.
“After being accepted into Serna Village, families move into small, well-kept apartments with comprehensive support services on site. In this safe, drug- and alcohol-free environment, the family is given the chance to put their life back together.
“But they have to seize the opportunity. They have to remain sober. They have to work or go to school. They have to be involved in running the facility. So, graduation day is very special.
“Graduation is not just about leaving Serna Village. Graduation is about being sober. Graduation is about having a home and a job. Graduation is about a lot of hard work and the beginning of a new life.
“After attending a graduation ceremony at Serna Village, I saw all the successes. But, I wondered, “What is the cost?”
“This is an important question, given our limited funds and unlimited challenges. To help answer this, Sierra Health Foundation commissioned a study of 293 children and youth from approximately 150 families, who lived with one or more parents in Serna Village between 2002 and 2009.
“The results are remarkable.
“Before entering the program, the child-welfare cost for this group was $1,313,262. After leaving the program, the cost was $295,632. When the study ended, this totaled a savings of more than $1 million.
“While similar programs experience 20 to 40 percent of the kids re-entering foster care, Serna Village only had a 10 percent re-entry rate.
“These findings are noteworthy both for the success rate compared to other programs and also for the incredible savings. In addition, it’s likely that there will be less emergency-room visits and jail time.”