A nonprofit serving children in distress is at risk of closure following sexual abuse allegations last year, but The City is proposing to help them out with $350,000 in “gap financing.”
The grant funding legislation was introduced by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Gordon Mar, whose district includes the location of the nonprofit Edgewood Center for Children and Families at 1801 Vicente St. in the Sunset.
The nonprofit serves youth facing acute mental health issues.
A message on the group’s website reads: “Our Crisis Stabilization Unit services are currently temporarily suspended. We will update this page as soon as the expected conditions of funding for the Crisis Stabilization Unit change.”
After The City became aware of the abuse allegations last year, the Department of Public Health and the Human Services Agency froze placements of clients to the Edgewood programs in the summer of 2019. The City’s current $24 million contract with the nonprofit is for July 2018 to July 2021.
The lack of placements meant the nonprofit wasn’t getting the revenue it counted on from The City. But the nonprofit already had raised concerns about its finances in an April 2019 letter, according to a budget analyst report.
The Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee voted Thursday to approve the $350,000 in funding that is meant to help the nonprofit continue to operate as it satisfies requirements set by The City before it begins placing clients in the program again.
The full board is expected to vote on the deal next week.
“The purpose of this Grant is to provide funding to enable Grantee to complete its remedial action plan, business plan, and financial plan sufficient to assure the City of the safety and stability of Edgewood’s residential programs (Crisis Stabilization Unit, Residential Program, and Diversion Programs),” the agreement reads.
The agreement is for a 90-day period.
“The purpose of the grant is to provide gap financing for the 90-day period so that Edgewood can continue to operate,” said the budget analyst report.
Lynn Dolce, CEO of the Edgewood Center for Children and Families, addressed the allegations during the hearing.
“When I learned about the devastating misconduct by two employees who cleared background checks and who were approved by the state to work in Edgewood’s residential treatment cottages, I fired them,” Dolce said. “I immediately set to work to fully understand the conditions at Edgewood that lead to egregious safety breaches on behalf of the children we serve in residential treatment.”
The legislation said that “from June 2019 through early December 2019, the Department and the San Francisco Human Services Agency were advised of multiple allegations of staff misconduct and child abuse at Edgewood, some of which were substantiated and are being criminally prosecuted; as a result, the City stopped placing children in Edgewood’s residential programs.”
Dolce said that “in order to ensure the safety of children … we have made structural and procedural changes.”
Greg Wagner, Department of Public Health’s chief financial officer, said that “we have been as a city working closely with Edgewood to talk through the issues and develop a course of action.”
“As of Feb. 10, the department and Edgewood agreed on a scope for a corrective action plan,” Wagner said.
Wagner said that separate from the allegations that led to the cessation of placements, the nonprofit had other financial concerns and this “exacerbated that and put them in quite a difficult financial situation.”
The funding will come from the money the department would have used to pay for the services had it sent clients to the nonprofit’s programs.
“We clearly want to get ourselves to a place where we can resume placements and resolve those financial issues,” Wagner said.
Mar said that “we expect this resolution to move forward and be adopted by the board.”
He said that the services have a “critical importance” for San Francisco. Mar said he is committed to continuing to work with the nonprofit to “ensure that we really stabilize Edgewood and these programs for the children and youth that have high needs in our city.”
Supervisor Matt Haney called Edgewood “an essential institution for our city.”