WatchSonoma Watch

County OKs outsourcing of Sierra Youth Center operations


A split Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a contract that outsources residential probation care for girls to a private operator.

Sierra Youth Center (PD File).

Sierra Youth Center (PD File).

The move came over the objection of Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who said last-minute changes to the deal, including an additional $35,000 for career planning, did not settle her concern that girls probation programs were not on par with services offered to troubled boys.

“I don’t think it goes far enough,” Zane said.

Four board members, however, said delaying launch of the replacement program, as Zane had suggested, could leave eligible girls with no immediate alternative to court-ordered supervision than juvenile hall.

“What I’m most concerned about is getting a viable program up to meet the needs of the (girls),” Supervisor Susan Gorin said.

The decision marked the first split vote for the newly composed Board of Supervisors this year. It comes one week after the county closed its Sierra Youth Center, the 34-year-old girls probation camp that had been faced with a dwindling population and a high fixed cost of $1.6 million a year.

The privately run effort, which will be based out of the juvenile justice campus in the Valley of the Moon, is expected to cost the county about half to a third the previous annual amount, based on a population of five to 10 girls.

It drew probing questions last week from Zane and Gorin, who in the first hearing on the deal pressed for more details about plans for career training. Zane said she would oppose the deal without additional course offerings and funding.

In response, probation officials added plans to craft a career plan for each girl in the program, including links to professionals and access to a range of outside courses. The additions were on top of two county classes in the initial proposal, in culinary work and computer and office skills. Probation officials also bumped the $65,000 proposed for career training to $100,000.

Factoring in other funds spent on a probation officer who will oversee career counseling, officials said the spending for girls was roughly on par with funding for boys under county supervision.

“I think we’re there,” said Bob Ochs, the county’s chief probation officer.

Zane wasn’t convinced, and her call for a second round of proposals from private operators drew interest from Supervisor Efren Carrillo. He echoed some of Zane’s concerns about the county’s selection process and appeared to back off his comments last week poking holes in claims about unequal services for girls.

But Carrillo eventually joined Gorin, David Rabbitt and Mike McGuire in advancing the deal with Crossroads Treatment Centers, a Sacramento-based group home operator.

The nonprofit organization is planning to open the program next month with an initial population of about four girls, including two from outside the county, said Robert Pye, the group’s chief executive officer.

The out-of-county girls are paid for by contracts with other local governments.

The Board of Supervisors is set to review the program in six months.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.

5 Responses to “County OKs outsourcing of Sierra Youth Center operations”

  1. Follower says:

    @ Bear
    Let me inform you about NOT outsourcing.

    First a committee is formed to study the needs by appointing people who have earned favors from our elected officials. $

    Then recommendations are forwarded via the committee’s report and vuala!

    A brand spanking new baby bureaucracy is born. $$

    Now the few productive people in Government get handed new tasks and responsibilities that they can’t handle because they’re already doing the laundry for all the other bureaucracies.
    So they “staff up”. $$$

    New staff means new facilities and new equipment and maintenance for all the new facilities and equipment. $$$$

    The already over taxed maintenance staff can’t handle the new responsibilities so guess what…

    (So much for NOT outsourcing!)

    Now we have a new bureaucracy to support, new contracts with private firms to do the work that the bureaucracy can’t handle and what have we accomplished?


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  2. GAJ says:

    Bear, my daughter is 28 and has had a roommate virtually since the day she left home.

    She works for the State and doesn’t make minimum wage.

    I’ve had a roommate since the day I left HS…in college 4 of us shared a house. I don’t recall it being a tragic burden at all…it was a necessity.

    Sure, my roommate today is my wife (we both worked f/t) and my daughter’s roommate is now her “life partner” so it far from unusual, bizarre or new.

    Not that long ago it was COMMON for three generations to live under the same roof.

    Why do you imply that a “real” job MUST be a lifetime job and ensure that someone can afford to buy a house and support a family of four?

    That’s never been a realistic goal…despite what you may have seen on TV.

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  3. bear says:

    Let me inform you about outsourcing. This means hiring private corporations to provide services previously provided by government.

    I have said MANY times that you could outsource all government services. Here’s how it would go:

    The first year you would get a great deal, and save a lot of money.

    The second year there would be “cost-of-living” increases, and “equipment maintenance charges,” and “overcapacity charges” – all designed to maintain the corporate profits of the contractor.

    By the third year, we’d likely be getting lawsuits due to serious mistakes by minimum wage employees. Somebody gets shot, somebody has a crash, whatever. Then the $250/hour lawyers would negotiate deals. Only if government lawyers were contracted out, the rate would be closer to $500/hour.

    Naturally, the minimum wage employees will not be spending money at a lot of businesses, would be unable to save much, and would retire at age 67 (?) with little hope for decent SS or Medicare – because these programs would be defunded by lower wages, or simply not participated in by local governments.

    That’s happening now.

    Some have suggested that such employees just “get roommates,” or that they will climb to higher paid jobs. I don’t think you’re seeing our economy clearly.

    If you had kids, you might care about these trends.

    If you eliminate all middle class jobs, you will not have a middle class. Welcome to the “Middle” Ages.

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  4. Snarky says:

    Allow me to update myself with regard to the innocent bystanders being wounded by police gunfire in Southern California yesterday.

    Thanks to a very dangerous, out of control mob mentality of the police, there were actually two separate incidents in Torrance, California, where two innocent bystanders were shot by police and in an entirely different shooting, a third innocent bystander was also shot by police.

    That makes three innocent bystanders who were shot by police.

    Worse yet, the police shot those bystanders without even looking to see who they were shooting at.

    You see, they were supposedly searching for and shooting at a very large black male… and ended up shooting two elderly females.

    Do you agree with me that those police officers should be prosecuted for shooting innocent civilians when the suspect was not even in the area ? Since when are police allowed to shoot at will without even seeing clearly who they are shooting at ?

    The police excuse? The vehicle was similar to the suspects. Yep. They shot a vehicle with over a dozen shots because they “thought” the suspect might be inside. The two women are not dead but wounded and requiring medical care for gunshot wounds.

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  5. Snarky says:

    As I pointed out once before, outsourcing the job to the private sector might not be such a bad idea.

    A former cop in killing people right now in southern california.

    While searching for him, the cops have already shot and wounded two innocent women who were merely delivering newspapers but happened to have a similar vehicle as the killer cop.

    AND the LA Sheriff’s Office is firing 7 of its deputies for belonging to their own criminal on duty gang.

    Public employees are NOT necessarily the best quality bunch. Outsourcing the jobs where we can not only saves public money but often results in higher quality employees.

    Imagine the two innocent wounded women. Shot by cops eager to play “hero” and bring down the killer cop on the loose.

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