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CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
JUVENILE PROBATION COMMISSION
PROGRAMS COMMITTEE MEETING
Regular Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Log Cabin Ranch School
500 Log Cabin Road
La Honda, CA
Dirk Beijen, Chair
1. Roll call
· The Commission Chair called the meeting to order at 1:56 p.m. Commissioners Beijen and Chang were present. Commissioner Woodson was excused.
2. Public Comment
3. Review and Approval of the Programs Committee Minutes of August 17, 2009
· Motion to approve the Programs Committee Minutes of August 17, 2009 by Commissioner Chang and second by Commissioner Beijen.
· No public comments.
4. Missouri Youth Service Institute Approach Update by LCR Staff (DISCUSSION)
· Allen Nance, Assistant Chief Probation Officer, discussed the transition of department heads regarding LCR and stated that Chief Siffermann brought the vision of a new model of residential rehabilitation to LCR.
· JPD took a team of LCR staff to Missouri to look at the Missouri Youth Service Institute (MYSI) model to see their new approach to residential rehabilitation. MYSI created a model that engaged young people and created a sense of shared responsibility. It created opportunities for youths to build their skills to develop competency and to be rehabilitated in a humane manner. MYSI built smaller institutions and created units of 12 to 13 kids who worked and stayed together, and had the same staff working with them day in and day out, versus hundreds of kids in one institution. They looked at therapeutic programming designed to deal with issues young people brought to the facility, instead of warehousing them and having them serve their time and leave the institution only to come back three years later with new offenses.
· The state of California made significant adjustments to youths who would be eligible for the division of youth services. San Francisco already made the decision to not commit young people to the California Youth Authority at the time given the deplorable conditions that existed. The abuse that many young people were subjected to and the environment were found to be unfit. As a result, the state allocated funding to local jurisdictions and San Francisco was a beneficiary. This allowed JPD to focus on transforming LCR. JPD adopted the MYSI model earlier this summer, trained staff, and moved LCR residents to JJC for a two week training period. During this period, JPD worked with DPW to transform the dormitories to create a family-like environment. The training was completed in July.
· Two LCR residents spoke on the MYSI program. The first resident said that he has been getting “less write-ups and feels that the program is very beneficial. It will get us ready for outside life. MYSI is helping me by working on people and job skills.” The second resident expressed that “MYSI was good because in the past they were more segregated. Once MYSI came, we became more like a family, working things out. If there was a conflict, instead of writing a kid up, we ‘circle-up’ and work it out. At the beginning it was hard, but once we started opening up to each other, we see that we have a lot of things in common and we are not so different. It’s a good program and it’s better than the one we had before. The program before, once you did your time, you just got out. Basically, you are just looking at the calendar. This program lets you go when you are ready. Once you are out there, LCR will continue to help you.”
COMM Chang asked how long the residents were at LCR before the MYSI program. The second resident was at LCR for around five to six months and the first resident for four months.
COMM Chang asked what has been the biggest change. Both residents said the “circles.” The second resident said that “working together and doing everything together. One team, one dream.”
COMM Beijen asked how the MYSI program has helped to avoid inter-personal problems. The first resident said that “in the ‘circle,’ if a resident or staff member has an issue, we all go around and try to resolve the problem. We work on our people skills so that we do not run into the same problem again.” The second resident said that “if people were going to have a verbal fight, anyone can call on the ‘circle,’ at any time to solve the problem. We try and help each other before it escalates, like a family.”
COMM Chang asked if anyone new has joined after MYSI, how do they learn about the “circle” and the other things, and is someone assigned to them or do they go through classes. Both residents said that youths have come to LCR after MYSI and that they have check-ins. “On a scale of one to ten, we say how we feel, with ten being the highest. The new residences learn as we go and we tell them too.” Chief Siffermann said that “we have conversations with those nearing the end of their program to assume a leadership role in helping the others.”
COMM Chang asked the residents how they will take what they learn through MYSI into the community. The first resident would explain to them what he has been through and witnessed in resolving problems. Mr. Nance stated that there are a number of messages in the dorm that these young people have developed and they translate into communications that they share with their peers. For example, one of the messages that resonates is “we are not okay, unless we are all okay.”
COMM Chang asked what the residents have been personally involved in. The second resident said that they are gardening. The first resident said that before the MYSI program, “we had vocation; barbershop; media production, which I was involved in; computer skills, that I can carry with me; but they stop funding those programs.” The second resident said that with Urban Sprouts, everybody works together planting lettuce, strawberries, squash, and greens. “We eat everything we plant.”
COMM Beijen asked if school was an important goal here and will it continue to have an important role in your life when you leave. The first resident said that “if he had not come to LCR, he never would have graduated.” The second resident said that “the LCR teachers are great and they support you.”
COMM Chang asked if the teaching style changed since MYSI. Both residents said that they now have smaller groups. Right now there are 13 kids, so we have three or four per class.
COMM Chang asked how it is determined who is in what class. The residents said that the staff checks the transcripts.
COMM Chang asked what the hardest part was about adapting to MYSI. Both residents said opening up to other people was difficult, because they were used to doing things alone. Trust was another issue. When they saw other people opening up and trusting people, it was easier. BJ, a staff member, said that the two main things he likes about the program are the “circle up” and group discussions after quiet hour. Most of the time the kids will pick the topic, which includes the residents and the staff. There is less tension, compared to the old program.
COMM Beijen asked the residents felt safer now and they both said “yes.”
COMM Chang asked if the residents were able to share anything with their families when they visit. The second resident told his family that they work together and are like a family now. “My mother told me that I look different, I look more comfortable.” The first resident said that his mother can see that he has matured. “I can talk to her about how we feel, the problems here, what I am going to do when I get out and how they are going to help me. She believes I am ready to come home.”
5. Closed Session
- Pursuant to the California Constitution Art. 1 Sec. 1 (right of privacy) and Welfare and Institutions Code §827 (confidentiality of juvenile case information):
Tour of Log Cabin Ranch Facilities (Discussion Only)
6. Vote on Whether to Disclose Any Portion of Discussion During Closed Session
(San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.12(a)) (ACTION ITEM)
· Motion to not disclose any portion of discussion during closed session by COMM Beijen, second by COMM Chang. Information may be discussed at the next Full Commission Meeting.
· No public comments.
7. Adjournment (ACTION ITEM)
· The meeting adjourned at 3:24 p.m.