DAVIS, CA - A former employee of a Davis group home that is closing it's doors said the administration was careless with its money and rough with the youth at the facility.
"There were a lot of people at FamiliesFirst, at this facility, who really, really cared about the kids and who really helped them," said Emily Meehan, who worked for the group home from 2011 to 2012. She worked at the facility after graduating from UC Davis and before she began her graduate studies at the University.
EMQ FamiliesFirst announced Friday it was laying off the last 42 employees at it's Davis group home just four months after allegations of sexual assaults and other misbehavior in the community by the young clients.
"We recognize how painful this decision is for employees who are being laid off and their families," FamiliesFirst CEO Darrell Evora said in a statement. "We reached this decision as a result of there being no children currently in the program."
Evora added, "We must always be good stewards of charitable dollars and do what is in the best long-term interest of all the children and families we serve throughout the state."
Meehan claims the agency did not use its funding wisely.
"The administration were just a bunch of people that were taking the state's money and just doing as little as possible," she said.
Meehan said FamiliesFirst spend heavily for outside counselors to come in for DTI, or Day Treatment Intensive, effectively doubling up the number of staff needed for simple programs.
"A whole other counseling staff comes in and works at the same time as the residential counseling staff just to have the kids, like play volleyball, or other simple activities," Meehan said.
She also took issue with, what she described as, "the excessive use of restraint for younger children."
"They were always restraining kids. And they weren't hurting them when they were restraining them because we did it in a safe way, we were trained, but it's just, like, so punitive," Meehan explained. "Just let him go outside and vent. You don't have to go run and put two guys on him and hold him down on the ground 30 minutes."
Meehan said a new Community Care Licensing rule, which prohibited the counseling staff from restraining kids who want to leave the campus, led to hundreds of calls to the Davis Police Department at the facility.
"All the kids just left. They were stoked," Meehan said. "They just went into Davis and just ran around town and wreaked havoc."
Meanwhile, she said administrators were often absent.
"They were not even in their office most of the time. It was hard to even find them," Meehan added.
A request to talk to administrators still at the facility was turned down.
Neighbors said they are relieved the group home is closing.
"[The kids] leave there and they'd come over here and you've got four or five people holding them down on the ground. I'm sorry, that is unacceptable as far as I'm concerned," said Judy Davis, who lives across the street from the group home.
Meehan said she believes our society is also to blame for the issues faced by the youngsters the social welfare system is meant to serve.
"I think the child welfare system is burdened with an enormous number of children who are being neglected or abused and we don't know, as a society, how to deal with this."