What a journey of faith the past eight years have been since we first announced the enormous dream God put on our hearts to build homes for children rescued from sex trafficking and call them family!
In 2008, we launched an effort to build two homes – one in Tanzania, Africa and one in Northern California. For three years, we educated the community about the plight of these young children, their extreme trauma and the gross lack of services and homes necessary to meet their needs. You, the community, generously responded and we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the worst economic years (2008 – 2010) our country had seen in decades, to buy 52 acres for the first U.S. Courage House and secure a location in Tanzania. We bought property big enough to expand because our local law enforcement had already recovered over 200 children in this region – that number is now over 400.
When we started, we were a group of volunteers committed to no overhead until we received a license from the state of California, which we did in June 2011. Once we secured the license, we continued to raise funds to hire the professional staff the state required to execute our program as well to hire the staff in Tanzania. Many are surprised that it takes 15 full-time professionals here in the U.S. to provide 24 hour, 7 day a week care for up to six minor residents, 365 days a year.
We spent our first five years of operation innovating and perfecting a program. We learned so much. However, no amount of research or training prepared us for the complex trauma and excruciating pain these young children had endured. No amount of explanations prepared us for their violent and suicidal behavior. No amount of education prepared our hearts when some rejected the love and home you worked so hard to give them. No amount of training prepared our staff for the inevitable burn-out and secondary trauma they themselves would endure. We learned healing takes time. We prayed, we persevered and we believed in these children until they could believe in themselves.
In spite of all the battles and obstacles, we feel that every sacrifice and tear has been worth it because we had the privilege of seeing lives changed! Our program gained national recognition from the mental health professionals that monitored and assessed us. We heard from people in other states and countries as more and more communities realized their own lack of services for this ever growing population and their desire to bring a Courage House to their community.
During the past five years we have taken our experience into the policy arena, speaking into legislation that will affect the lives and care of these children for years to come. It has been an amazing faith-filled journey.
In June of this year, our Board of Directors made the difficult decision to pause operations at Courage House Nor Cal to recruit, hire and train additional staff as well as apply for the new state license for treatment centers.
However, due to regulatory issues we felt were dangerous to our children and staff, subsequent appeals and negative publicity, that short term pause has extended for months while we have worked to overcome the re-opening obstacles and state policies we believe affect the safety of our staff and residents.
Today, we are thrilled to report that we continue to be in good standing with the state and can re-open as soon as we recruit, hire and train the staff to reopen. While we have some policy differences with state regulators, they are anxious for us to re-open and once again serve girls in need. In fact, they have turned to us for advice on how to provide these essential services throughout the state of California.
Though the state will provide up with $9,000 per child per month when it places a child in our home, our costs are $12,500 per child, per month when our house is at capacity.
Many of you have asked about the cost per child and why it is so “high.” If you research adolescent residential trauma and/or addiction treatment facilities across the nation, you will discover costs for one child range from $30,000 to $60,000 per month. The state of California recognized the deficit in caring for these children and is increasing rates during 2017 for the new treatment license that will come closer to covering our costs – when children are in the home and we are at capacity.
“When will you re-open the Northern California home?” The answer is simple: when we raise the funds. We must have three (3) months operating costs in the bank for the Northern California home before we can open because state funds do not come until approximately 60 days after the resident does. We cannot recruit, hire and train the new staff or interview residents until we secure those funds. Our program is people – emotionally healthy, highly trained and very experienced professionals – who command professional salaries. The state license does not allow us to supervise children with volunteers.
I have been asked – what are we giving money now if the home isn’t open in Northern California? That too is a simple answer:
- The 5 year old 24/7 Residential Trauma Treatment Center in Tanzania Africa.
- Support and Resources for the over 18 population who have called Courage House Home.
- National Accreditation by C.A.R.F. and the United Nations.
- National Advocacy, Education and Awareness Training Programs.
- The Prototyping/Licensing the Courage House Program.
- State & National Policy Change.
Though we continue to explore and work toward expansion in Mississippi, Texas and other parts of the world, our organizational focus is to reopen Courage House Nor Cal as soon as possible. Our re-opening and the viability of Courage Worldwide’s work both locally and globally for children who have been or are now being sold for sex completely depends upon community support – upon people like you.
The need is great. We continue to receive calls from social workers, probation officers and moms who have children who have endured this form of violence and abuse. Our residential program has documented outcomes that are needed in the community; outcomes that have exceeded expectations of our mental health professionals. If you have heard or read anything to the contrary, anything that has caused you to question our mission, our results and/or our integrity, I would be happy to answer any questions, provide our audited financials, information on salary ranges for residential treatment homes providing 24 hour care, and share our program results. You should have complete confidence in the organizations you donate to. We are intentionally transparent in all we do to give you that confidence. In an effort to help with that, we have posted a Frequently Asked Question document on our website here.
Though this has been a difficult season for our organization, compared with what the girls who have called Courage House home have endured – this is nothing. As long as there is a child being sold for sex I – we – will use our voice and our lives – for them. Will you?
Thank you so much for your support in the past. I humbly ask for your continued support so that we can bring more girls home.
Jenny Williamson, Founder/CEO
Courage Worldwide, Inc.