Founded in 1984, South Coast Community Services (SCCS) set out to take a leadership role in filling a critical hole in the safety net of our communities. SCCS saw a significant and under-met need to provide shelter, care, therapy and essential support services for those who are too often left behind: abused, neglected and underprivileged children and youth. Over the intervening 35+ years, SCCS has grown and expanded to provide a wide variety of services in homes, in clinics, and in community settings to people in all walks of life who "sometimes need a little help".
A Paradigm Shift in the Industry
In 2006, twenty-two years after SCCS started, we saw that the group home industry was in a decline. We could see that community-based services, like “Wraparound”, were going to be the future for our industry. Group Homes would always be needed for the most impaired kids, but the vast majority of kids would be better served if they could stay in homes with their families.
Refining Services; Changing Course
Seeing the future for our industry, we set our agency on a different path than we had followed for the previous 22 years. In 2008-2009 we converted two of the six homes into crisis residential homes for young adults ages 18-24. In 2007 we converted four of our six homes into specialized programs to serve the most challenging of kids ages 10-19. Today we get calls from all over California for kids needing to get in to this program. Recently, California enacted the Continuum of Care Reform which has again changed our industry. The focus of the law is to get kids out of group homes, and living with foster parents or family, as quickly as possible. Since we already do this for every child that can possibly qualify to "step down", we embrace this new law. Our four homes have now been converted to "Short Term Residential Treatment Programs", or STRTPs.
“The Biggest Non-Profit You've Never Heard Of”
The real growth for SCCS began as we expanded into the new community-based programs. Rather than having kids live in our group homes or drive to our clinics, the new community-based programs send clinicians and para-professionals out into the community to meet kids where they are—at school, at home, etc. Community-based programs now account for most of the services we provide. We still have the six homes. We now also have seven clinics out of eighteen locations. We employ almost 500 professionals, paraprofessionals, and support personnel. Each year we serve over 8,000 kids, teens, and adults… plus their families. We are now one of the largest mental health services providers in California. We are “the biggest Non-Profit you've never heard of”.
Why Haven't You Heard of Us?
Although we are a tax exempt non-profit corporation, SCCS does very little external fund raising so there is not a lot of marketing to raise donations from the general public. We operate more like a business in that we strive to operate our programs according to the budgets in our contracts. Any donated funds are used for things we could not do otherwise, like new furniture for the kids. Sometimes it is as simple as a birthday party or graduation celebration. Our Board of Directors is purely a governance Board, and as such we benefit from their support as wise counsel and passionate advocates.
We Rock with Technology and Innovation
How do you grow from serving 100 kids in 2006 to serving over 8,000 in 2018? Aside from truly extraordinary staff, you need super efficient and extraordinary staff. Modern management techniques and a little advanced technology. We began the path to adopting electronic medical records (EMR) in 2007-2008. We use laptops in the community to be able to enter our notes into the EMR while we are with our clients. This is known as "Collaborative Documentation" and the benefits of this evidenced based practice are immense for the clients. We use a HIPAA-secure texting on our SmartPhones. No clinical information is ever kept on a laptop or mobile phone. We use "Mobile Device Management" software to keep track of our professionals on the road for their safety. We use teleconferencing for our managers and senior executives to stay connected with staff at a moment's notice. Our doctors are more available to clients and for staff/client consults with Tele-medicine. Because we began our technology journey so many years ago, it feels like it suddenly happened but it was ten years in planning, investing, and implementation. Few other agencies "made the leap to hyperspace" as early as we did, so we find ourselves at a place that many other agencies still see as "over the horizon". We do not see ourselves as techies, but we love how tech helps us provide more and better services.
Update to 2020 and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Because almost our entire workforce was already mobile-enabled, we had Telehealth to go many years ago. Upon gaining County stakeholder permission in mid-March 2020, it took only a week to have 400 clinicians and paraprofessionals working from home using Zoom Healthcare for Telehealth services. Zoom even featured our success story in their national advertising. Now that we have been doing Telehealth for a while we are finding that most of our clients prefer the video chats. No driving to clinics, no having people meet you at school or in your home. It's easy. It's the future.
SCCS employees are loving, and they are tough. Our jobs are not easy jobs. These jobs cry out for people with a special calling, a love for others. Our folks are true Super Heroes. The people we serve are among the most vulnerable people in our community. Lives are saved; lives are changed for the better. The work can be heart-wrenching, but it's rewarding, too. Really rewarding. If you believe you have that special calling, if you think you could be one of our Super Heroes, we would like to meet you.
We are an agency comprised of dedicated mental health professionals. We believe it is our responsibility to promote and uphold life-affirming values. We teach these values to our staff, our children, and the families with whom we work. For us, it's the coolest job in the world. Since we are continuing to grow, we are always looking for like-minded people who love others as we do, and who would like to join us on this exciting journey.