The county of Imperial is really headed in the right direction with Betty Jo McNeece Receiving Home, as it continues to find ways to make it obsolete.
That is not a backhanded compliment or a facetious statement; it’s the truth about the need to get troubled youths in home placement or back with their rehabilitated and educated parents rather than languish in homes like the McNeece facility for extended periods of time.
That might be the case still in a fully realized sense, but it appears as though the transition is beginning and in a way that utilizes the older facility for a newer way of thinking.
In the presentation to the county Board of Supervisors before its vote to transfer responsibility, Social Services Director Peggy Price talked of having staff on site and providing education and medical assessment en route to home placement. “We’d like to have them (children) in a stable placement within 30 days,” she said.
It sounded as though Betty Jo McNeece is on its way to becoming an even shorter-term pass-through, and more important, a relic of a different era. That is a positive thing.
The core mission of the home, the staff and the volunteers who have worked there through its entire existence, whether it was under the auspices of the probation department or mental health, has always remained to provide a caring, loving and patient environment for children in adverse situations, put there beyond their control.
Try as they might, though, a facility such as that is no place for children and speaks to some of what is wrong in this state with how it handles kids and wards, albeit temporary wards of counties.
Probation and mental health, for instance, had other priorities, frankly. That night not be what those agencies want to hear, but we think even they would admit that the function of probation is adult and juvenile rehabilitation and oversight, and mental health is for substance abuse and mental illness.
How exactly either of those areas of discipline functioned in a logical chain in serving the needs of displaced youths doesn’t quite make sense. Yet that change, which has been several years coming, has moved further along.
Los Niños/Betty Jo McNeece — the tradition and concept of a receiving home in general — is an archaic one; there are not many of them left in California. It’s served the community and its children well, but children need warmth and love to heal, not institutions or institutionalized settings.
The reality is this is the much-needed beginning of the end for an idea that has given way to better, more modern ideas for youth placement.
Receiving home transferred to social service.
The change is good, and means the concept is moving toward the end.
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