Courage Worldwide Response to Press Release

Courage Worldwide Response to Press Release
September 19, 2016 admin

An Update: Board of Directors

We are disappointed by the recent news coverage of Courage Worldwide by The Sacramento Bee that misrepresents recent decisions regarding the operation of Courage House Northern California.

We made the difficult decision to temporarily not serve girls at our Courage House Northern California location in June. While the Bee characterized this as “amid a flurry of state violations,” in fact this decision was based on some resignations by state-required staff and a state-imposed decision to transition from a Group Home to a Short-Term Residential Treatment Facility. There was no “flurry” of violations.

While Courage House could have tried to immediately hire to address the staffing issues, the Board believed it was prudent to temporarily suspend serving girls at the home so that we could hire staff who would comply with the requirements of the state’s new required Short-Term Residential Treatment Facility. When we made our decision we thought we would be able to hire new staff to meet the requirements, train the staff and re-open within 60 days. However, it became clear later that timetable wouldn’t be possible as we are still awaiting the requirements from the state for new staff.

Unfortunately, the Bee decided to characterize our temporary closing as related to a “flurry of citations.” The Bee doesn’t provide much detail on those citations. We believe you deserve the whole story.

As you’ll see from the information below, most of these alleged “violations” actually relate to a clear difference of opinion between advocates for sex trafficking victims like Courage Worldwide and this regulator. Frankly, many of these so-called violations actually aren’t violations as our state-approved program guide included these rules.

For example, the state agreed with us previously that our policy not to allow our girls to have cell phones was important to ensure that they not reconnect with those who had abused them. The state approved this policy but has now cited us three times for prohibiting these phones. Another example: we were cited repeatedly for refusing to put our license number on our website. We informed the state that we feared that could give an abuser information that could provide location to our facility.

We are contesting these alleged violations for the simple reason that if we complied with the state’s requests we would be putting these victims at risk.

Our organization continues to move forward, continuing to provide supports to girls who have left Courage House, our full services at Courage House in Tanzania as well as education, advocacy and training about sex trafficking.

We are moving forward to meet the new California licensing requirements and hope welcome girls home at Courage House Nor Cal by year end. We continue to raise funds to continue our ongoing work and to be able to re-open our Nor Cal House.

Moving Forward: Board of Directors and CEO

We, the Courage Worldwide Board of Directors, are very excited to announce the outcome of our meetings with state regulators.  We are thrilled to tell you, we are in good standing with the state,  ready to re-open, and bring girls home!  The state agreed with our argument that cell phones and other personal property with internet access can be dangerous for our girls.  In addition, the state agreed with our appeal that many of the citations noted against us were programs/policies they had previously approved.  We were also pleased that former employee and resident complaints were  overturned or  unsubstantiated.  There are a few remaining citations that we will continue to appeal and we’ll provide additional information when we are notified of the outcome. 

This has been a difficult few months but we are ready to move forward with bringing more girls home! We anticipate being full, at Courage House Nor Cal and Tanzania by year end.  Our requests for placement this year have almost doubled from 2015.  We thank you so much for your support in the past and your continued support as we recruit, train and hire/re-hire staff. All of our fundraising efforts will be directed towards these new staff hires, along with the property mortgage, maintenance, repairs, utilities, equine program in Nor Cal, as well as the staff and resident needs at Courage House Tanzania.  We are also continuing to pursue the new state license of a Short Term Residential Treatment Program (STRTP) which will be in effect January 1, 2017.  This new license will provide additional funding and more closely resembles the services and programs we have been providing, at Courage House, under a group home license. Though we feel validated, and rejoice at our success with the state, we need you now more than ever. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. 

If you have any questions, contact us at info@courageworldwide.org

Press Release from Courage Worldwide

COURAGE WORLDWIDE HOPES TO RE-OPEN COURAGE HOUSE IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BY YEAR-END AFTER MEETING NEW STATE REQUIREMENTS

ROCKLIN – Courage Worldwide said today it hopes to reopen its Sacramento area home for victims of child sex trafficking later this year as it works to meet new state requirements and contests some state rules Courage believes would put the girls it serves at risk.

The organization, which operates homes in Tanzania and Northern California as well as an extensive program to educate people about sex trafficking issues, voluntarily decided to temporarily close its Northern California site in June as it worked to meet new California regulatory requirements and have staff that met the new requirements.

The Tanzania home remains open and the organization continues its educational, advocacy and outreach programs as well as support for former residents of its homes.

“While we had hoped our closure would be very short, we now realize that we will need more time to be ready for new regulatory requirements to meet a state mandate that we operate as a short-term residential treatment center rather than the previous designation as a group home,” said Jenny Williamson, Founder and CEO of Courage Worldwide.

“Additionally, we are challenging state efforts to require us to allow girls in our care to have cell phones and other rules we believe would put the girls and our staff at risk,” Williamson said. “Cell phones link these victims with their abusers. Law enforcement agrees that this population of young people must not be further put at risk by allowing them this kind of access and potentially be connected to the very people who trafficked them.”

The organization raised the cell phone issue when the home first opened in 2011 and the state agreed that cell phones should not be allowed. Despite that, the state cited the lack of access to cell phones as a violation of the girls’ personal rights earlier this year.

Additionally, the state cited Courage House for infringing on a girl’s religious liberty by not allowing her to participate in Satanic worship.

“Our focus is always on what is in the best interests of the girls we serve,” Williamson said. “We will not allow our girls to be put at risk and will fight those rules and interpretations that we believe put them at risk.”

Courage House in Northern California opened in 2011 for girls age 11 to 17, providing round-the-clock treatment services 365 days a year. Girls generally stay for at least a year.

Courage House Plans to Resume Accepting Girls

STATE DISMISSES NUMEROUS CITATIONS AGAINST COURAGE HOUSE

ROCKLIN – Courage Worldwide said today that after the appeal process and a positive programming conference with state officials, the organization is in good standing with state regulators and plans to rehire and train new staff to reopen Courage House immediately.

The state has dismissed three program citations and the organization has appealed the remaining ones, noting the state’s prior approval of all Courage House programs and policies.

The organization is pleased to announce they will resume accepting girls after staff is rehired and trained, since state officials agreed cell phones can be dangerous to the residents and staff at Courage House. Courage House policies can now deny the use of cell phones and other equipment dangerous to the girls and/or their recovery on a case-by-case basis.

The Courage Worldwide Board of Directors said:

“The population we serve is extremely unique and often existing state regulations regarding the care of minor children do not take into consideration their complex trauma and past association with criminals and the dangerous world of human trafficking.

“We are gratified that the state has granted a number of our appeals and has agreed cell phones pose a real danger to the girls in our care since they link these vulnerable children back to the people who trafficked them. The cell phone is the preferred mechanism of the trafficker to market and sell under-age girls on the internet. Our organization will continue to challenge and appeal any regulations we feel endanger the children we serve or the staff who serve them.

“We are excited to resume serving girls later this year after we rehire and train appropriate staff. All of our fundraising efforts will be focused on recruiting, hiring and training qualified staff. The state agreed that our pause on accepting new residents was wise in light of new licensing that will allow Courage House to now function as a Short Term Residential Treatment Program (STRTP) instead of a Group Home. ”

The organization, which operates 24-hour residential homes in Tanzania and Northern California as well as an extensive program to educate communities about sex trafficking issues, decided to temporarily close its Northern California site in mid-June as it worked to meet new California licensing requirements, hire staff who meet the new requirements while appealing program citations cited by the state that the organization felt endanger residents and staff.

The Northern California 52 acre property currently has beds for 6 girls with a campus plan to build ten cottages for a total of 60 residents. Currently, Courage Worldwide has completed 85% of the county permitting process to begin construction on the first cottage by year end. The Tanzania home is currently serving 6 girls, with a capacity to serve 12. Courage Worldwide anticipates both homes being at capacity by year end since they have had over 350 requests for placement since opening. Courage House Northern California and Tanzania have been fully operational for 5 years, opening in 2011 for girls age 11 to 17, providing round-the-clock treatment services 365 days a year. Its program has received national recognition and to date over 65 girls have called Courage House home.

Though Courage House Nor Cal paused its residential operations for several months, the organization has been fully operational continuing its extensive education, advocacy and outreach programs as well as support for former residents of its home here in the Sacramento region.

Click here to see a detailed chart of state issues provided to Courage Worldwide as well as our response to each issue and the status of our appeal.