A Letter from the CEO

March 23, 2019

To our Unity Care family and friends, 

I am writing to let you know about an article that will appear in the Mercury News tomorrow about one of Unity Care’s programs we closed last September. The program, STRTP (Short-Term Residential Treatment Program), served the State’s highest acute foster youth who were coming out of hospitals, returning from out of state placements, or from locked facilities. 

Unity Care was provisionally licensed as a STRTP on August 28, 2017 and was proud to have been an early adopter of the STRTP model being the first in Northern California and sixth in the entire state. We achieved positive outcomes with some very challenging youth through the fall and winter months of 2017.  

However, in late spring we had an influx of youth with acute symptoms and behaviors that dramatically strained our program model and existing staff. We went from serving approximately 40–50% youth with acute needs and behaviors, to serving a population over 90% highly acute. 

While attempting to make the necessary adjustments in response to the elevated mental health needs of this acute client population, we unfortunately experienced a number of incidents and violations over a 5 month period that forced us to make the tough decision of closing these homes and exiting our participation in the STRTP program. 

STRTP served approximately 18 youth per month in our care, with a total of 90 youth during the 13 months from August 2017 through September 2018. Of the 90 youth, 52% successfully graduated, stepping down to lower levels of care and/or returning home with their families, with 48% unsuccessfully exiting the program.

I want to provide a few factual corrections to the article: 

•  Unity Care’s STRTP program closed 7-months ago.

•  There has never been a time our homes did not have towels or toilet paper.

•  No youth ever logged on and accessed other youth information – we use an Electronic Health Record system that is password protected.

•  The youth incidents are not correct and are taken out of context.

•  Lastly, the home pictured in the newspaper is not a foster home—as it’s empty and up for sale. The reporter came by the day maintenance staff were working on the home and emptying its contents. She was told the house was being remodeled with  the “for-sale” sign on the front lawn. 

This program served less than 1% of the total youth Unity Care served last year. We recognized our challenges serving this population that stretched our ability to meet their clinical needs. Although my team and I consistently advocated with County and State partners, and hosted Assemblyman Mark Stone—the author of the STRTP—to shine a light on the systemic barriers of this model, we received zero support and were left to fend for ourselves. 

Unity Care has served this community for nearly 26 years providing outstanding services in our 22 programs serving over 7,000 youth and families per year. We are proud of the work we’ve done over that time. It hasn’t been without its challenges and failures, especially as we work with some of the community’s most needy children and youth. We are saddened by the sensationalism and misrepresentations in the San Jose Mercury News article and remain proud of the work we do to support, care for, and advocate for foster youth. Listen to the recent stories of success from some of our Transitional Housing Youth:  https://youtu.be/jYZYNR1nOLA

Thank you for your continued support and please do not hesitate to reach out to me at andre@unitycare.orgwith any questions about the news article or about any of the programs at Unity Care. 

Sincerely,

André Chapman 

Founder & CEO

P.S. Listen to my interview with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to learn more about the STRTP model and its impact on the State’s Foster Youth. https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/blog/philanthropy-now-podcast/foster-youth-bay-area-housing-crisis

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