Successful rehabilitation provider gets little funding support from Sacramento County officials

Probation chief ‘optimistic’ two sides will find a solution

A fragile truce between law enforcement and one of its most successful rehabilitation groups is fraying once again over money.

On Tuesday, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors delayed a request from the probation department to renew two funding contracts worth $1.2 million. The agreements would continue services provided by Leaders in Community Alternatives and Strategies for Change at the probation department's three adult day reporting centers. These “ADRCs” are where the county has centralized its recidivism-fighting efforts by contracting with outside providers to conduct reentry and transition services, job placement and counseling for its offender population.

Meanwhile, Ascend, an offender rehabilitation provider with a sterling track record codified by Sacramento State University, was hoping to double its comparatively modest contract with probation to $200,000. But the $710,000 earmarked to Leaders in Community Alternatives and $510,000 for Strategies for Change crowded out Ascend's request.

That frustrated co-founder Toni White, who worried about laying off staff while the only rehabilitation provider that's independently proven dissolves in Sacramento County. “The one program that has outcome measures that caused Sac State to tout it as a ‘model for the nation’ receives only a token amount of funding,” she said.

Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale acknowledged the frustration, and pointed out that Ascend's funding has stabilized under his watch since he took over the department in 2013. “So from my perspective, that shows my commitment to continuing to increase their contract,” he emailed SN&R. “The problem is that they have been pushing for this for years before I arrived.”

Seale said while there is no planned funding increase for Ascend this year, he's hoping to change that—and to use the Sac State data to make his case. “I'm asking for their patience as we work together to steadily bring their contract up,” he added. “I'm optimistic we'll work things out.”

Supervisors obliged by letting him pull the contracts from their consent calendar, and didn't reschedule them to return.