CASE STUDY 2: Devereux, Santa Barbara, California

Begun in 1912 by Helena Devereux in Pennsylvania, Devereux is a nonprofit, nationwide network of educational, residential, and care programs for people with emotional disorders and developmental disabilities. Schools operate in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

At Devereux Santa Barbara in California, some 45 school districts contract for special-education services. In 1995, approximately 110 children resided at Devereux.31 Of those, 20 attended Santa Barbara public schools on a full- or part-time basis; the rest attended Devereux's on-site nonpublic school. Altogether, Devereux Santa Barbara serves over 200 children and adults living both on and off the 33-acre campus. Devereux serves students with IQs ranging from 40 to 100 points. Some 60 of its residents have autism.

In 1995, Devereux Santa Barbara's total operating budget for adult and child residential treatment and other services was $16 million, of which $2.8 million was budgeted for education. Roughly $50,000 of the education budget comes from private fundraising.32

The base cost per-pupil at Devereux Santa Barbara was $130 per day in 1995.33 Most Devereux students are also enrolled in the center's residential treatment program at an additional cost of $4,100 per month.34 Costs for pupil transportation and services such as psychological counseling, medical treatment, speech and other therapies, are additional. Devereux Santa Barbara employs 412 full-time equivalent staff including doctors, psychologists, teachers, social workers, and residential workers.35

Says Devereux Executive Director Thomas McCool, "We're at the higher end [of tuition costs]. If you look at our school program, we have the most intense kids that come from all over the state of California and also from out of state." Typical treatment lasts 1-4 years.

"Most of the kids we get are severe ed [in need of intensive services] and they're not going to get cured. So the best thing to do is to help them get through their adolescence so they don't end up in a hospital program or worse, on the street. We try to work with them and the family to develop behavioral controls and to identify what kind of supports they're going to need as adults," says McCool.

Students who don't progress are referred to a more restrictive setting such as a state hospital, where costs tend to be higher. Student achievement is measured by moving to progressively less-restrictive settings, so they ultimately can live as independently as possible.

Devereux also runs a program for adjudicated youth in Kennesaw, Georgia. Many of these children are violent and/or have antisocial behavior. These students are viewed by the courts as being emotionally disturbed and therefore qualify for special education. Explains McCool, "If you went to this program and observed its entry level, you might think it was a prison. However, it's all run by clinical staff. The furniture is bolted down or too heavy to move, and the physical structure is very prison-like." From this program, students can move to a less restrictive residential setting and on to a group home before leaving. Many do not make it through the program successfully and end up in prison, but many others benefit from it and lead productive lives as a result, says McCool.36

The cost of the Devereux program in Georgia program is over $350 per day per juvenile.37 Says McCool, "A lot of it is pay now or pay later. The secret is trying to get people to understand what's being paid for and what the alternatives cost."