With no children left at its Davis group home, EMQ FamiliesFirst announced Friday it has suspended the operations of its residential treatment program and non-public school until its state licensing issues are resolved.
Another 42 FamiliesFirst employees assigned to those programs were laid off as a result of the suspensions, in addition to the 77 let go from the campus in late July, according to agency spokeswoman Kristine Austin. Forty-three staff remain on site for day treatment and other service programs.
“We recognize how painful this decision is for employees who are being laid off, and their families,” Darrell Evora, president and CEO of the Campbell-based EMQ FamiliesFirst, said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “We reached this decision as a result of there being no children currently in the program and even though we have received new referrals, there are no indications that the agency will have a sufficient number of referrals in the immediate future.”
Austin told The Enterprise last week that although the last child had left the group home at 2100 Fifth St. on Sept. 3, the agency was exploring the potential for having lower-risk children referred to the residential treatment program even as FamiliesFirst challenges the state Department of Social Services’ move to revoke its license.
Since then, however, “several important referring partners have informed the agency that the state licensure issues need to be resolved before the agency can expect referrals of children to begin again,” Austin said. “The agency will continue to work with the state to come to a satisfactory resolution on the licensure issue and determine the best course for providing services in the future.”
A settlement conference in the case is scheduled for April 4 before an administrative law judge in Sacramento.
The state’s license-revocation action stems from reports of frequent runaways and alleged criminal activity involving some FamiliesFirst youths that surfaced in early June, when the Davis Police Department announced it had arrested two teenage boys on suspicion of forcibly raping an 11-year-old girl. All three youths were FamiliesFirst residents at the time.
Another female FamiliesFirst resident who had walked away from the group home later reported being sexually assaulted at an East Davis home, resulting in the arrest of a 17-year-old Davis boy not affiliated with the program. Davis police said they also had responded to multiple disturbances in the community involving youths from FamiliesFirst, which had generated more than 500 calls for service since Jan. 1.
Days later, Evora announced the organization had boosted security and staffing levels at the Davis campus, and had hired a consultant to identify and implement improvements to the program. Those efforts are continuing, Austin said last week.
— Reach Lauren Keene at email@example.com or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene