Northern California

Courage House – Northern California

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Courage House Northern California

June 2017 Update

After five years of operating the U.S. home/center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Courage Worldwide Board of Directors made the extremely difficult decision in June 2016 to pause operation of the Northern California Courage House due to the following reasons:

  1. Appeal state regulatory decisions that impact the safety of the residents and staff at Courage House.
  2. Explore and pursue the new California state license since group homes (our current license) are being phased out by the state of California.
  3. Recruit, hire and train additional staff.

Negative publicity has left the incorrect impression that the state of California shut us down. That is not true. In fact, we still retain a license to operate a group home facility and are free to re-open as long as we are compliant with all state regulations.

Unfortunately, major changes to the child welfare system took place on January 1, 2017 which dramatically affects our ability to execute our long term program and therapeutically serve minor children who have been sold for sex in the state of California. During the past year, we attended the orientation and subsequent follow up meetings for the new California licensing requirements. We have attempted to take our existing successful long term program and morph it into the new regulations, which are intentionally a short term program.

During this process, we have realized our program will not fit into the new regulatory scheme as the Courage House program requires a minimum of 12 months, with best outcomes being realized in the 18 to 24 month range. There is now no state license available in the state of California for a long term program like ours, specific to this very specialized population; victims of sex trafficking. There are currently no carve outs or specific regulations and/or requirements for these vulnerable victims and their unique needs. The state mandate is to now place highly traumatized children in a short-term treatment facility, then move to a resource family (formerly called a foster family). These families will then be tasked with providing the unique therapeutic services these children require within their family unit.

The state has a goal of providing every foster child a family. We applaud that goal … in theory. However, children who have been sold for sex have unique and elevated needs that don’t mirror a typical foster child’s needs. Without carve outs and special regulations for this population we do not feel we can keep the residents or staff safe at Courage House.

When we opened Courage House Nor Cal in 2011, our intent was to provide a safe home; a place of healing for children who were sold for sex so that we could equip, encourage and empower them to be and do all God created them to. Under the new state regulations, requirements and expectations we are limited on how we can do that as some of these requirements are in conflict with our Christian values/beliefs.

Due to these reasons, as of June 2017, we have made the very difficult decision to not pursue the new short term residential treatment program (STRTP) license for minor children in the state of California at this time. We will continue to explore options that would allow us to serve minor children who have been victims of sex trafficking and are seeking possible partnerships with other organizations committed to fighting sex trafficking.

In the meantime, we are excited to announce that Courage Worldwide is expanding our services to victims of sex trafficking in the Northern California area who are over the age of 18.

There are over forty former residents now in the community who once called Courage House home. We promised we would be their family. We promised we would walk the long journey of healing with them; equipping, encouraging and empowering them to be and do all they were created to. While we have been supporting them relationally with limited resources, Courage Worldwide is pleased to announce we will now be doing that in a very intentional way with expanded services and resources. We have hired a Human Trafficking Case Manager for our over 18 population, who will be tasked with providing our former residents, as well as any trafficking victims in the community, with the resources that will assist them in becoming independent and successful. Those resources will include, but are not limited to, housing, tuition, therapy, legal services, mentors, day care vouchers for their children, counseling and more.

Courage House Too. Over 18 Housing/Case Management.

What does it take to rescue an individual sex trafficking?

The word rescue means to save someone from a dangerous or distressing situation. Many people assume rescue is a one-time act, and after the victim is safe, their responsibility is over. This perspective is simply not accurate for victims of sex trafficking – of any age.

The most challenging and complicated components of rescue begin when an individual has been deemed physically safe. That is when they need a loving, safe place to call home—but even a home – a roof over your head – is just the beginning of the journey of healing. An individual who has been bought and sold as if she has no value, who has been beaten, assaulted, and repeatedly raped, carries within her the invisible chains that bind her to her perpetrator, and these chains need to be broken. Flashbacks, body memories, and nightmares resulting from the trauma, assault her day and night—she needs to be rescued from their affects.

In some cases, she needs to be rescued from a family that did not protect her and from a system of care that has been too bureaucratic, too overworked, and too distracted to hear her cries for help. She needs to be rescued from laws and public policy that view her as the perpetrator of a crime, rather than its victim. She needs to be rescued from the fear that her perpetrator will come after her to harm her again. In addition, she almost certainly needs to be rescued from a mindset that views her as someone else’s problem–physically, emotionally, intellectually…and financially.

So, what does rescue entail for Courage Worldwide?  All of the above.    

Courage House Too is a home for the over-eighteen (18) population.  Most states in the US do not allow the over eighteen population to be mixed with minors as is allowed at Courage House Tanzania. On a youth’s eighteenth birthday, the state declares they are an adult.  Without support, their options include returning to the streets or the environment from where they were exploited. If left on their own without support the chances of a child continuing their education, continuing therapy, and utilizing what they have learned at Courage House is extremely low. Additional time is needed to help them internalize what they have learned at Courage House, to help them reach their goal of healthy independent living, and to continue to help them break free from the trauma of their exploitation. Transitional housing is critical for them. They need Courage House Too.

CWW has called over forty young women family. We are committed to their long-term care, and will not neglect their needs just because they turned eighteen and have to leave Courage House. In our over seven year experience with this population, we have found that children leaving Courage House at eighteen still find it difficult to integrate within a family structure. Though they long for a family, the structure is unfamiliar and challenging to maintain when they now crave independence. Though very unhealthy, many of these youth have experienced what they would call a certain amount of “freedom” on the streets that is not easily transferrable into an established family situation. Thus the need for Courage House Too.

In addition to providing a safe, loving home, comprehensive, holistic care that addresses the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of these traumatized children, CWW advocates for the rights of these children within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems so they can be free of stereotypes, labels, and undeserved punishment. If necessary, we intervene in unsafe family situations so they can be free of unhealthy generational tendencies and addictions. We equip, encourage, and empower them to face their perpetrator in court, testifying to the torture they endured so they can be set free from fear, intimidation, and manipulation. We provide tools and services to help rescue them from their own negative thought patterns and emotions so they are free to be who they were created to be and do all they were created to do.

The program will be the same as for minors but without state regulations and restrictions. Because of that, Courage House Too will be entirely privately funded. A house mom or house parents will be employed to ensure safety, support, and a family environment. Residents will pay rent, participate in the family responsibilities, and be coached in making healthy choices for independent living. To live at Courage House Too, a resident must be a full time student or employed full time. While at Courage House Too, they will receive the same therapeutic services and case management they had at Courage House. They will be able to maintain some of the healthy relationships and support they developed with Courage families and staff. Each resident will have a mentor and Courage family to meet their familial needs. The structure and boundaries implemented will be familiar to them because they will be the same that they learned at Courage House, but modified for their age, maturity, and need for independence.  In the state of California, children turning eighteen who have been former foster youth now qualify to receive monies to assist them with their housing/living needs. CWW advocates for this victim population to help them receive all services and monies available to them, including college tuition, job training, and MediCal (health insurance).

Courage House Too is slated to open in the fall of 2017.  In the meantime, case management is being provide to former residents beginning June 2017 to assess their needs and connect them with resources such as housing, tuition, counseling, etc.

It takes courage to face your past and walk confidently into your future after suffering the trauma and torture that is inherent in commercial sex trafficking.   Courage House Too is a place to belong, a place to receive comfort and security from a loving family, a place to dream dreams and make memories, a place where healing happens. It is the continuation of the journey that started at Courage House when they were just children – the journey to healing and restoration.  It is the place where these now young adults will be equipped, encouraged and empowered in their unique identity and their God-given destiny. Courage House Too is a critical piece in the restoration process. It continues the stabilization phase of their healing process and provides a launching pad to healthy relationships, independence, and a trauma free future.

CourageHouseGirls

Courage House Northern California

Courage House Driveway

View from the driveway at Courage House Northern California

“From the Mother of a Courage House Girl”

“I am a mother of a Courage House girl. My daughter’s journey began with a total transformation from the loving and well-adjusted happy little girl who would kiss my eyelids to wake me up to a pre-teen that seethed defiance and sexuality. I thought it was that moodiness that parents discuss as their daughters reach the beginning stages of maturity. However, finding texts that were so explicit and chatting with boys/men about actions no 12-year-old could imagine or experience raised red flags. The school became involved as grades slipped. Behaviors escalated requiring treatment programs and counseling. Hospitalizations for self-harm seemed to be the escape from a world my daughter couldn’t handle. And one night, after holding her secrets for over a year, she shared her truth – she had been trafficked for sex.  Read more

Michelle and Her Daughter