The WestCare Foundation was established in Las Vegas almost 40 years ago with a specific focus: treating male heroin addicts. They now operate multiple recovery programs, residential and outpatient, in 17 states and two territories, specializing in working with populations that have been historically considered difficult to treat, like men and women in the criminal justice system, people with multiple disorders and the indigent.
WestCare California started in the early 2000s, when the organization was contracted by the state’s Department of Corrections to treat prison inmates. From there, it opened a major facility in Fresno with short- and long-term residential programs for adults, including specific programs for men and women with young children. They also have outpatient facilities with substance abuse programs serving adults and adolescents in Fresno, Hanford and Bakersfield.
Accommodations and Food
WestCare California’s major residential facility in West Fresno is called the Martin Luther King Facility, or sometimes just the Central Valley Campus. Residents are segregated by sex and program track. The facility is a complex of long one-story white buildings with green trim and the residential spaces are set up like a motel or one-story apartment complex. Residents have redesigned the courtyard to include a small playground with swings and a slide, as well as wooden benches and a small community garden.
Imagine a mini version of the Central Valley Campus, and that’s the Bakersfield facility, where WestCare runs another long-term rehabilitation program for men. Colored white with green trim, right on a corner of a suburban street, the main house is a long, one-story building. Behind the main house is a smaller, identical version with more bedrooms. In the front yard of the facility are a handful of green-painted benches and palm trees.
At each of these facilities, meals are provided three times a day in the cafeteria and special diets can be accommodated, especially for kids.
Treatment and Staff
WestCare California defines short-term treatment as 30 days or less. Men and women who enroll in the 30-day drug and alcohol program live at the Central Valley Campus and participate in individual therapy and group counseling in gender-specific groups. Attendance at 12-step meetings held on campus is optional but encouraged. Clients receive mental health assessments after intake and any mental health issues are addressed with medication or specific counseling—clients with co-occurring disorders are welcomed here. All clients are educated in groups about the disease of addiction and about HIV/AIDS. As a part of their recovery, clients are also taught vocational skills.
Long-term treatment lasts anywhere from 30 to 180 days. Men and women live in gender-specific units on the Central Valley Campus, and receive the same services as clients in the short-term program, in addition to optional smoking cessation workshops, domestic violence classes and assistance with childcare and parenting issues. The same long-term residential program is offered for recovering male addicts at the Bakersfield facility.
WestCare California has special programs for adults with children up to the age of five, who live with them on campus. The women’s six-month program is called the M’ella Program, meaning “Courageous Daughter.’ Clients in this program are referred by outside agencies in Fresno County. The residential program for men with children, the Papa Natal program, is much shorter—just 60 days—and clients may be self-referred. Both mothers and fathers get the chance to participate in individual and group therapy while their children attend an on-site therapeutic daycare.
WestCare California employs Master’s-level therapists, licensed drug and alcohol counselors, case managers and support staff, with a client-to-staff ratio of 10-to-one.
Families and significant others receive support from WestCare California are invited to participate in their loved one’s recovery by attending family therapy or educational groups.
For adults who are parolees or are at risk of becoming homeless, WestCare California offers a five-phase program called the Residential Multi-Service Center Program. The long-term goal is to assist clients in their transition back to the community. Clients live on the Central Valley Campus and are provided all the basics of a treatment program: meals, substance abuse counseling and access to medical services. Additional features of this program are workshops on money management, employment readiness, parenting skills and literacy. Clients attend group therapy, where they discuss independent living and manageable sober lifestyles. On a case-by-case basis, parolees may receive an extension for up to one year in this program. The program is open to men and women but groups are gender-specific. Some groups are didactic, teaching about drug and alcohol addiction, and others, also facilitated by a counselor, are interactive.
Adolescents who have a history of abusing drugs and alcohol can participate in outpatient programs at facilities in Kings and Fresno counties. Groups run Monday through Friday and follow evidence-based curricula. Clients can set up individual counseling appointments and optional individual counseling is also offered to parents. WestCare California also partners with several school systems to offer group and individual counseling and education about addiction and recovery within the school setting.
WestCare California outdoes itself in creating opportunities for people in tight spots, people in the red emotionally, financially, or with the law. They operate an impressive number of facilities and, though the facilities may not be the Ritz, there’s a lot of care put into the programs all the same.
2772 S Martin Luther King Blvd
Fresno, CA 93706
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