Making the move from a troubled home to a foster family or group residence won’t get easier for the county’s kids anytime soon, as construction costs for a new transitional dormitory have nearly doubled, delaying its opening for at least a year.
Originally projected to cost about $2.4 million and to be completed last fall, a plan to build a new “receiving home” using prefab modulars had to be nixed when the county learned that widening hallways and making other modifications to meet disability requirements could drive the bill sky high, said Children and Family Services chief Mark Lane.
Rather than construct the building cheaper and more quickly, it will now have to be built in the usual method, requiring more materials, additional man-hours and an altogether different approach.
The home is a kind of halfway house for kids who are taken away from their parents or guardians and in transition to foster care or a group home for adolescents, Lane said.
Now, taxpayers will have to cough up another $2 million for the project, which is projected to be completed sometime this fall, officials said.
“I think the money is a concern but our current receiving home is about 50 years old, so we thought if we were going to build it we wanted it to meet the needs of children today,” Lane said. Currently located near the San Mateo Medical Center in San Mateo, the facility move to the medical center campus with the recently opened Youth Services Center at 222 Paul Scannell Drive, formerly Tower Road, in San Mateo.
Lane said the Human Services Agency will have to come up with half the cost, dipping into its $4 million reserves.
The other $1 million will come from nondepartmental reserves, bringing the total construction costs to about $4.4 million, officials said.
While undeniably a large chunk of cash, the advantage of dipping into the reserves is that it won’t result in staff or service cuts, said John Joy, director of program support for human services.
Supervisors agreed to transfer the additional $2 million to the project Tuesday and are expected to approve the proposed construction changes in coming weeks. Construction is expected to begin this summer and take about seven and a half months, said Doug Koenig, facilities services administrator for the Department of Public Works.
Once completed, the 12,720-square-foot receiving home will consist of 10 to 12 dorm rooms, kitchen, dining and living areas, staff offices and a medical center, Koenig said.