Press Release - FIRST STEP GROUP HOMES
Contact: Jason Verrett
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION THE PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE ALONG WITH THE FIRST STEP GROUP HOMES INCORPORATED TO ANNOUNCE A CIVIL RIGHTS DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Twelve Well-Adjusted Foster Youth Are Re-Traumatized by Displacement, Some Out of State potentially, Days Prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday and now a National Civil Rights Leader Rev. Shane Harris of The People's Alliance for Justice is set to attend a rally in San Bernardino Monday, December 2nd at the request of several activists from across San Bernardino County announcing a civil rights discrimination lawsuit against the State of California and the Community Care Licensing (CCL) Department at the County of San Bernardino's Administration building.
(San Bernardino, CA) -- National Civil Rights Activist, President of the People’s Alliance for Justice and a former California foster youth Rev. Shane Harris who's based out of San Diego, CA, will join several former foster youth, First Step Group Homes Inc. , and several community leaders for a press conference at the County of San Bernardino to address the removal of one of San Bernardino's few African American led service providers and over twelve well-adjusted high-risk foster youth just two days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday from their facility. The removal comes by order of the California Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) and is believed to be a discriminatory action. “There is a major shortage of beds and a lack of homes in San Bernardino County for this specific population (high-risk hard to place males between 12 –18 years old),” say Tiffany DuBois, Co-founder, of the First Step Group Homes. The State is forcing San Bernardino County social workers to remove these vulnerable children from their place of comfort and safety – just days before Thanksgiving. Newly enacted State Law called Continuum of Care Reform states that the first goal is family reunification but these highly vulnerable youth are being shipped as far as northern California and Oklahoma. If new placement is not found, these youths will be moved to live in the offices of the San Bernardino County Department of Children and Family Services building. The People's Alliance for Justice (PAJ) is the only national civil rights organization with initiatives focused on disproportionality in America's foster care system. Since beginning its Every Child Heard campaign led by founder and former foster youth Rev. Shane Harris, the PAJ has stated several times that, "California's child welfare system is underserving children of color and is failing to address cultural competency."Harris notes that this failing results in the foster care-to-prison pipeline, foster care-to-homeless pipeline and builds a deep distrust within the young people who enter the system every day concerned about what will happen to their future. Harris also raises concerns that, "One of the few African American led service providers in the State of California is being unjustly targeted by a system that already has failed children of color for too long."In California there are over 13,500 African American children in foster care but they are underserved, underrepresented in County government, and unheard. In San Bernardino, CA there are over 6,600 youth in the child welfare system and more than half of those youth are African American and Latino. Children of color are over represented within the foster care system.
WHO: National Civil Rights Activist and President of People's Alliance for Justice (PAJ) Rev. Shane Harris, First Step Group Homes, the Law Offices of George Jones, California Black Chamber of Commerce, and Community Leaders
WHAT: Press briefing regarding First Step Group Homes vs. California Department of Social Services lawsuit
WHEN: Monday, December 2, 2019 at 11:30am PT
WHERE: THE COUNTY OF SAN BERNARDINO ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
385 N. Arrowhead Avenue - San Bernardino, CA 92415
About First Step Group Homes
Since 2015, First Step Group Homes (FSGH) has been dedicated to preparing foster youth for reunification with their family/guardian or to emancipate the resident from our program and be confident they are capable of independent living, entering the job force, or starting college and having AB12 placement secured. First Step Group Homes has been deeply committed to going beyond the call of duty in supporting the foster youth in achieving success, staying motivated, and receiving the tools and knowledge necessary to meet or exceed their personal expectations. First Step Group Homes has an outstanding documented record with county and state agencies. They have been Medi-Cal Certified for 3 years, receiving an additional 3-year certification in 2019. They have maintained CARF Accreditation for nearly 3 years and are up for re-accreditation in the year 2020. They have secured a San Bernardino Mental Health Contract for the last 3 years which was recently increased to continue treatments with the youth. FSGH have successfully passed all ten unannounced CCL audits/visits, done by multiple CCL analysts, with no deficiencies documented.
The People’s Alliance for Justice is a national human/civil rights organization founded to keep Dr. Martin Luther King's dream alive through direct action with a balanced standard of justice for all no matter what race, religion, criminal record, sexuality, gender status, or citizenship.