Two of Devereux Santa Barbara’s programs for developmentally disabled children will close this summer, leaving 200 staff members without jobs and 87 children in need of new accommodations.
The facility, which is a chapter of the national Devereux Foundation, will close both its school and its autism programs in June. According to a Devereux press release, a lack of funding and an overall shortage of affordable housing for the facility’s staff have made it necessary to cut the programs. Devereux staff will review each child’s case with his or her treatment team and discuss the best alternative treatment programs with family members.
The Devereux Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that provides social services and education for emotionally and developmentally disabled children. The Santa Barbara facility, located on Ellwood Mesa, has been open since the 1940s.
According to the press release, the foundation will continue to run its Playa Vista Assessment Center Program, which partners with the Santa Barbara County Dept. of Social Services and the Santa Barbara County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services to diagnose and treat local youth in need of support.
Janis Johnson, spokeswoman for the foundation, said Devereux will also continue its Supported Living Services to ensure that disabled adults continue to receive assistance while living on their own.
In a press release, Devereux President Robert Q. Kreider said the foundation tried to maintain the Goleta program, but ultimately determined it was not possible to continue.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions in Devereux’s history since opening its first program in Pennsylvania in 1912,” Kreider said. “We have deep roots and history with our California program and we are deeply saddened to have to make this decision.”
Johnson said the closure will displace many staff and students at Devereux, but she said only four of the students in the Goleta programs are from outside Santa Barbara County. She said the organization wants to now focus its resources on helping local residents rather than students from outside the area.
“One of our goals is to provide more services to Santa Barbara children,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the foundation is offering staff members affected by the cuts the opportunity to transfer to other Devereux programs. She said Devereux will also provide them with outplacement support, access to job fairs and severance packages. Twenty-five percent of the staff are UCSB students, she said.
Staff from the Santa Barbara Dept. of Social Services and the county’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services declined to comment on the facility’s cutbacks. Currently, no plans for future use of the facility are in place.