What is Courage Worldwide’s status with the State of California?
Our license remains current, we are in good standing with the state of California and we can open when we raise the funds to hire the appropriate staff.
Why did you close the Northern California Home?
We temporarily paused operations at Courage House Nor Cal to recruit, hire and train more staff as well as apply for the new California license – Short Term Residential Treatment Center (STRTP). For five years we operated a 24 hour, 7 day a week licensed residential group home for minor children who have been commercially and sexually exploited for sex. That operation requires 15 highly trained, professional, emotionally healthy staff members to cover three shifts a day, 7 days a week, including holidays for 6 residents.
Secondary trauma and burn out are real by-products of caring for these highly traumatized children. We needed additional staff as well as additional/training and rest for the existing staff. We intended the pause to be from six to eight weeks. However, during the same time period the state of California cited us with “program violations” that they had previously approved. When we discussed this with our staff members, all expressed they would feel unsafe working at Courage House if these policies were adhered to. Our pause turned into months instead of weeks as we appealed and continue to appeal these citations.
When will you re-open?
We need three months of operating costs for Courage House NorCal before we can open. We do not receive any state funds until 60 to 90 days after residents have been at Courage House – that means we must pay for all their expenses and the program up front. To re-open Courage House Nor Cal we must recruit, hire and train fifteen qualified employees – a Clinical Director, a Social Worker with a Master’s Degree , Case Manager, Facility Supervisor and 24/7 direct care staff. We need 4 weeks to adequately train the staff, while at the same time interview prospective new residents.
What are your costs per child at the Nor Cal Courage House?
Our costs are a minimum of $12,500 per month, per child, when the house is at capacity – which is currently 6 children. Our salary and program costs remain the same whether there are 2, 4 or 6 children at the home. The state of California currently reimburses all level 12 group homes at the rate of $9,000 per month per child. Currently that is a deficit of $3500 per child, which is $21,000 per month or a $252,000 per year deficit just the Courage House Nor Cal Program – and those numbers are when we are at full capacity. These numbers do not include the costs for the Tanzania home and program, the program audits, or the personnel for the Accounting/Human Resource Departments. Therefore our need to fundraise and host events.
How many girls have been at Courage House?
There have been 41 residents at Courage House Nor Cal, representing 14 placing counties from within California and 4 different out of state placements. There have been 28 residents at Courage House Tanzania along with 4 of their babies. Total 69 residents and 4 infants.
Why is it so expensive?
While it may seem like a lot of money, in fact it isn’t expensive for a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day a year mental health residential treatment program for highly traumatized adolescents. Costs for private adolescent, residential treatment programs across the United States can range from $30,000 to $60,000 per month, per resident. Our program is a mental health treatment center with daily modalities of trauma therapy for the residents. We also provide an on-site school as well as the trauma treatment. Because we provide mental health treatment to highly traumatized children with high risk behaviors, our liability is extensive thus our insurance costs are very high – especially in California. For example, our Worker’s Compensation insurance – with a full staff at Courage House – is $8,000 monthly. This does not include property, liability and automobile insurance. Often these types of costs are not taken into account when considering what it takes to operate a residential program with a high risk population.
Can you explain your salary and benefit costs?
We try to pay our staff salaries at Courage House that are equal to or slightly higher than average to attract the best employees – and obtain the best outcomes for our girls. Our staff are much more than babysitters and are critical to the program success.
In terms of administration, we try to keep our costs down as low as possible. The Courage Worldwide Board of Directors sets the salary of the CEO, and believes it is in the low to mid salary range for similar positions in California. The organization began in 2005 and the founder and current CEO did not take any compensation until August 2011. In August 2011 until December 2015 her salary was set at $90,000 per year. However, she has voluntarily reduced her own pay many times to ensure other employees were paid and expenses met. As documented on our 990s and audited financials, 2014 was the first year she received her full salary.
We have heard the organization has millions of dollars in assets. Can you explain that?
Approximately $1.25 million of assets on our balance sheet is the value of the 52 acre Courage House campus, which we carry a mortgage on for $450,000. The remaining assets are vehicles, farm equipment, furniture and the horses. Our 990’s as well as our audited financials show the breakdown of all income for the year. We have events, grants, state funds and donations (cash and in-kind). We have never had donation income totaling $ 1 million in any given year.
All non-profit 990’s are public record. However, to see the breakdown of the income and expenses, please see our website and click on About Us and Financials.
With regard to the income we raise, it goes for all the programs under the Courage Worldwide umbrella. Two residential mental health treatment facilities, over 18 transitional support, issue awareness, victim advocacy, professional training, national program accreditation as well as policy/regulatory change. When there is a reduction in donations or state funds then we must reduce programs and/or staff – which we have done in 2015.
What financial oversight and accountability does Courage Worldwide have?
Courage Worldwide is audited four different ways each year. They are: an outside financial auditor, the state rates bureau, the state licensing entity and by a CPA hired by the board to review and reconcile our books monthly. We also applied to and were approved by the ECFA, which also did their own audit of our records and we maintain a high rating on GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
Why do you have corporate offices and staff?
In researching non-profit residential treatment facilities before opening the two Courage Houses we found that many “homes” fail because of the lack of support staff. Often the Executive Director is responsible for the staff, the training, the supervision, the fundraising and community development. Over and over we heard “one person cannot do both.” We intentionally hired a professional staff whose responsibilities included the fundraising, community development, data management, IT and program development so that the Executive Director could focus on the Courage House staff and residents only. This is one of the many reasons we believe our outcomes have been outstanding as well as being open and operational for five years.
Why has it taken so long to build out the campus at Courage House Nor-Cal?
The campus is zoned residential and must have new zoning for us to expand and build. We have been so fortunate to have a team of architects, engineers, land use attorneys, environmental engineers, planners and specialists who have donated much of their time and expertise in generating the documents necessary to obtain a Minor Use Permit (MUP) in order to build. Though a blessing, it’s also been incredibly difficult, to maintain any semblance of a typical delivery schedule as they have had to use their “off the clock” time to our project. In hindsight, it has proven to be a good thing because it has allowed us 5 years operational experience and in the daily operation revealed a number of revisions needed in the original plan. They have been monumental in allowing us to refine the best possible delivery of services to our young residents. Additional delays involved lengthy and expensive studies and tests. One in particular was imposed by a federal agency and, after an 18 month delay, found not to be needed. We were also required to install a water well that meets Environmental Health department standards for a community water system. Our current hurdle/delay is to overcome the requirement to install a community septic and disposal system infrastructure that will eventually serve the expansion of the campus. We have had over 100 items required by the county to move forward of which we have completed 85% of those.
After we obtain the MUP, then the county will issue a building permit, we will build then first cottage, then start a capitol campaign to buildout the entire campus in phases.
When do you anticipate breaking ground?
Breaking ground on the entire campus as submitted is predicated upon the approval of our Minor Use Permit — as a first step. It will then be dependent upon obtaining construction documents from our architectural and engineering team for the site work and all other structures to be built. Following the County Building department’s review of these documents and the issuance of the building permits for
the specific work to be performed then there will be a date set to break ground. With all the previous delays, we are reluctant to name a date.
Why is it important to donate at this time?
We have had some donors and supporters say “I will wait to give when you have girls back at Courage House Nor Cal.” While we appreciate wanting to give directly to the residents, we must stress that we are 100% dependent upon donations. We cannot open and bring girls home until we have the 3 months operating expenses in the bank – which is more than $200,000.