By CJ Dablo
A new group home to treat adolescent and behavioral problems will soon move into the former site of Boys Town on Wardlow Road and Pacific Place. Boys Town, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk kids, had suddenly closed the doors to its treatment center more than three years ago. Until it closed, the organization had served troubled kids in Long Beach since 1993. Many of these youth were runaways or had been abused, abandoned or neglected, according to a former report last year by the Signal Tribune.
The Center for Discovery has taken over the site. Like Boys Town, the 16-bed residential facility will be licensed as a group home, however, the center’s chief executive officer and co-founder, Dr. Craig Brown, draws a deep distinction between the former occupants and those who will be receiving treatment at his new center. While both the old and the new programs will have treated adolescents for emotional and behavioral problems, many of the at-risk youth at the former facility were wards of the state or had severe trouble and were removed from their homes, according to Brown, a clinical psychologist.
His new clients will come from intact homes, he said.
“[These] kids might need two to three sessions of individual therapy sessions a week and a group intervention on a daily basis,” Brown said. “It’s a more intensive treatment than outpatient therapy….So these are kids that are not coming from a criminal background. They usually want a higher level of intervention,” he said. Although he acknowledged some clients may have substance-abuse issues, his staff will primarily treat adolescents who suffer from a range of emotional and behavioral problems.
We’re a very rare type of group home, Brown said. “Our kids are usually done within a couple of months and then are returned to their family and their homes,” he said.
The Center for Discovery has been treating kids in Long Beach for about 13 years. Brown added that he hires all the staff at each location, and they are very closely supervised. The Center for Discovery has locations all over the west coast. The new Wardlow site is the ninth facility in a network of centers owned by Brown. The facilities have a combined total of 83 beds.
In order to help residents understand what kind of treatment center has been proposed for the neighborhood, Seventh District Councilmember James Johnson released a statement after his staff met with Brown on Wednesday.
“Councilmember Johnson has been informed that Center for Discovery primarily works with families to assist children with eating disorders,” the statement reads. “Obviously, Councilmember Johnson’s priority is the residents of the 7th District. He has been assured that Center for Discovery will adhere to the conditions of the permit and that they will be good neighbors. The Councilmember looks forward to a positive relationship with Center for Discovery, and he will continue to do everything he can to protect the quality of life in the 7th District.”
Brown said that after they have completed some work on the two-story center he plans to open the site within 30 to 60 days. Workers are painting and resurfacing parts of the building, and they do plan to improve the landscaping and parking lot. An open house will be planned soon, during which time members of the community will be invited to tour the center.