Santa Cruz Indymedia : http://santacruz.indymedia.org
Home
Santa Cruz Indymedia

LOCAL News :: Alternative Media : Civil & Human Rights : Education & Youth

SCAP Prevention Services Still Rolling Quietly Along

Education and Prevention Services at the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP) are still rolling along, steadily picking up momentum—and they want to make sure that you know it, too. The agency has experienced some dramatic changes over the past 3 months which have been played out in some areas of the local media. The result has been a misconception among some that the 20 year old agency is offering no education or prevention services.

Recent headlines have focused on the January dismissal of the majority of Education and Prevention staff at SCAP. Behind the headlines, a new basic structure for Education and Prevention has been developed and is diligently working towards dispelling the myth that SCAP’s prevention work has ceased.
Santa Cruz, CA

Education and Prevention Services at the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP) are still rolling along, steadily picking up momentum—and they want to make sure that you know it, too. The agency has experienced some dramatic changes over the past 3 months which have been played out in some areas of the local media. The result has been a misconception among some that the 20 year old agency is offering no education or prevention services.

Education & Prevention Services are still here.
Recent headlines have focused on the January dismissal of the majority of Education and Prevention staff at SCAP. Behind the headlines, a new basic structure for Education and Prevention has been developed and is diligently working towards dispelling the myth that SCAP’s prevention work has ceased. This structure includes a Director of Program Development and Evaluation, a Community Education Coordinator, a Harm Reduction Program Coordinator and a Prevention Case Manager whose time is shared with the agency’s Client Services Department. The newly revamped department is re-examining the services previously offered and working to expand its scope to include more well rounded services to several communities that have received little attention in SCAP’s past prevention efforts.

Current SCAP Education and Prevention activities include continued collaboration with Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (HSA) to provide counseling and HIV testing on Tuesday in the HIV Resource Drop In Center (HIV-DIC) parking lot, on Wednesday at Del Sol Market in Watsonville and at the HIV-DIC parking lot and Thursday nights at Equinox. Dana Blumrosen, a Marriage and Family Therapist and the Mental Health Client Specialist for HSA, has been a big part of continuing prevention activity with SCAP. She, along with other HIV test counselors, still spends Thursday nights at Equinox, providing testing and counseling to the Equinox community, composed of gay, bi, queer and trans men, as well as non-gay identified men who have sex with men. She has done this work with Equinox for the past 5 years and wants the community to know that her “friendly face is still around to provide services.?

The December fire at the HIV-DIC created, unrelated to the subsequent staff changes, a need to severely limit services right before this period of staff transition. Susan R. Pratte, SCAP’s new Harm Reduction Program Coordinator and a Registered Addiction Specialist, was brought on to help manage the repair and restoration of the HIV-DIC and broaden center programming. With 10 years of experience in harm reduction outreach and programming experience in Santa Cruz County under her belt, Pratte is excited about the opportunity this affords her. “The HIV Resource Drop In Center is in a unique position right now. We have the opportunity to re-invigorate our services, our look and our outlook. The work to be done is difficult, but exciting.? In addition to the counseling and testing that the county does in collaboration with SCAP’s HIV-DIC, needle exchange services continue without interruption.

On a more public spectrum, Community Education Coordinator, Amy Weiss has not seen a decline in her education efforts as a part of the department. Weiss has continued to coordinate and conduct trainings for SCAP’s Speakers’ Bureau and give presentations on HIV/AIDS to the greater Santa Cruz community. In the months where services have been reported as non-existent, Weiss made approximately 15 presentations to the rehab, school and social service community.

Weiss has been with the agency for over a year and recognizes that the January reorganization posed both logistical and emotional challenges to the remaining staff at SCAP, but believes that, “the recent restructuring has brought our agency closer together as a team and has given us the opportunity to develop and expand our services to our clients and the community.?

Why all the changes?
Social service agencies nationwide are feeling the familiar squeeze of funding concerns in a weak economy where deficits are common. In addition, it is simply more difficult to attract federal funding for innovative social programs when the federal atmosphere tends to lean towards a more conservative angle. In this atmosphere, social service agencies are always hard pressed to be able to prove that their innovative social programs work in a sociological sense and the Santa Cruz AIDS Project is not beyond such concerns.

The State Office of AIDS’s (OA) response to the increase in new HIV infections in six urban areas of California is to redistribute State-allocated HIV prevention funds to these urban areas, resulting in significant decreases in funding for many mid-urban counties. Santa Cruz County is among the 16 counties faced with continuing to improve programming while being handed a severely decreased budget. For Santa Cruz County, this means a 63% reduction in State-allocated HIV prevention funds. For our neighbors in Monterey County, this has meant a 22% reduction in State-allocated HIV prevention funds. Christopher Smith, SCAP’s Executive Director and his colleague, Katherine Thoeni, Executive Director of Monterey County’s John XXIII AIDS Ministry are leading an advocacy coalition that brings local health jurisdictions and community-based organizations of non-urban density geographic entities together. The goal is to simultaneously create a process for addressing funding cuts state-wide and strategize new, potentially collaborative, methods to sustain HIV prevention programs in non-urban communities.

In addition to coalition building, Smith saw the need to ensure that SCAP was in a position to withstand the same scrutiny that his coalition was giving the Office of AIDS. “If we are going to call them on the carpet for not paying attention to the needs of mid-urban centers, we need to make sure that our practices are the best they can be.?

This meant that, within his first year at the agency, Smith needed to look at the agency, as a whole, and consider it with new eyes. His concerns were mainly Education and Prevention programs that were generally built on one model and a department that was not always able to prove that its programs worked. He also saw a need for a smaller department to respond to some of the more immediate needs due to OA budget reallocations. “SCAP has done great work responding to the epidemic in the past. Now, SCAP needs to do great work adapting to the shifting prevention funding atmosphere.? Smith strongly believes that a more streamlined department which focuses on stronger evaluation of programs and a rapid response to those evaluation findings will help make prevention, SCAP style, more appealing to fund. This is all in an endeavor, according to Smith, to “bring us back to the cutting edge of education and prevention work in Santa Cruz County.?

What’s next?
These shifts in SCAP’s approach to education and prevention funding and philosophy have helped reinvigorate the department and the agency, according to some. April Jackson, the new Director of Program Development and Evaluation, stresses a “more holistic and broad based approach? to prevention work. “It’s simple, really. You can’t expect someone to focus on effective condom use if they are say…hungry, depressed or struggling with their identity.? Practically, this means more of a collaborative approach to HIV education that includes more community partners. Jackson hopes to engage a wide variety of partners to rebuild programming and re-invest in SCAP’s prevention work.

Equinox and the HIV Resource Drop In Center will see more discussion and support groups, health discussions and community-specific informational meetings. Once the building is renovated and inhabitable, HIV-DIC community participants will see women’s and youth hours return, along with more prevention activities. The Community Education Program will expand to cover more topics and take a more active role in our local non-profit and social service community. That desire and expanded focus led the department to begin regular Community Alerts and Health Alerts. Both alerts are sent to local news resources and agencies to help provide information on community activism and health information, respectively. All of the changes will happen with a clear focus on fidelity to evaluation principles. “We are a unique community that has done much right. Why not go the extra mile to replicate it where it can be useful?? asserts Jackson. “Let’s not assume that this all happens in a vacuum. If we want to continue in this day and age, we need to make sure we can demonstrate that our positive outcomes are directly related to our efforts.?

Weiss, as well as others in the department and the agency, expressed a desire to honor the work of SCAP's former education and prevention team. They created a good foundation for some successful prevention programming in Santa Cruz County. “I honor the good work that has come before me and am excited about continuing the effort to empower individuals to make good decisions regarding their health.? Jackson echoes the sentiment, “The foundation is good one. We hope to meld it into a foundation that allows for more adaptability and replication…[a foundation] more focused on clients and not the providers.?

In the end, it seems that, while shaken by the turmoil, the agency is maintaining education and prevention services while looking to benefit from the self-reflection that began the whole re-organization process. It is a new day at SCAP. Jackson wishes that “we could focus on the fact that the agency is pulling together to improve for our clients and the community. Personal attacks, community gossip and the continued dissemination of misinformation or assumptions aren’t helpful to any of us, nor does it get the work of education and prevention done. It dishonors the accomplishments of the previous team as well as the current.? According to Smith, “We stand together. We are ready to embrace new opportunities and handle the new challenges. We are moving forward and looking to innovate. We are excited, and things are good.?


For more information:

If you would like more information on the effect of HIV/AIDS on the Santa Cruz County community and information on safer sex practices, please contact the Education & Prevention Department of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project at
831. 427. 3900.

###
 
 


New Comments are disabled, please visit Indybay.org/SantaCruz

Comments

Any Response from the Dumped SCAP Workers?

SCAP workers dumped by Christopher Smith gave a much different story and overview on the state of SCAP, claiming it--as well as individual workers rights--was badly damaged. They spoke publicly at City Council in January and anonymously on Free Radio Santa Cruz about the issue. Christopher Smith promised to speak on the air in response to their concerns, but then pulled a no-show.

This unsigned post sounds like a Management PR puff piece engaging in damage control.

Does anyone at the ground level--rather than in the suites--have any information about how SCAP is doing, how far educational services have been cut back (as claimed by the fired workers), etc.?
 

Re: SCAP Prevention Services Still Rolling Quietly Along

I'm shocked to say I agree with Jackson...however as a new memeber of this "community" (an old friend of Smith's from Arizona, where Smith previously worked, who was immediately hired to replace those "laid-off" due to a supposed budget crisis), I find it troubling that she is asserting her peronal opinion and slant on the recent SCAP ongiongs as fact or as a view that the "community" shares. I agree that "personal attacks, community gossip and the continued dissemination of misinformation" isn't helpful; that has been my point all along. But who is making personal attacks? This isn't personal...my concerns are for the community that I served for more than 7 seven years- who are NO LONGER RECIEVING SERVICES. Did anyone read the Metro acticle? Smith was quoted saying the current team was "unable, unwilling or lack the clarity..." to exuecute "his" plan. Sounds personal. After the fire at the DIC, myself and volunteers ran all of our programs out of the parking lot and continued to provide street-outreach, everyday. Why is Equinox closed? Was there a fire there too? The only issue was that this decision was made behind closed doors. Staff attended Board meetings and this was never discussed. The management team was not part of this decision either. No minutes, from any meeting, reflect that these discussions took place in public. A small group of people, hand-picked by Smith were consulted. As far as the outcomes not being evaluated, the day before the lay-offs, the State Office of AIDS contacted DIC staff inviting them to provide state-wide leadership for an evaluation project. Finally, if SCAP meant to honor the work of this team, ask yourself why were they fired? Why not follow the SCAP tradition and give staff notice that they were going to be laid-off? Why not plan a celebration to honor their work? Why offer a severence of 1 day, for every year worked to staff who dedicated ten years of their life to SCAP? If SCAP is facing a budget crisis, why was Smith permitted by the Board to hire 2 friends from out of town and the partner (I mean the ex-partner - who has a key to her ex's house, still provides childcare and does her laundry there..), of SCAP's contract monitor, with increased salaries and no hiring process? Why was the community not allowed to apply for any of these positions? How do these actions represent the agency is moving toward fiscal heatlh? This just scratches the surface...what else is going on that isn't being talked about???
 

Calendar

No events for this day.

view calendar week
add an event

Views

Media Centers

Syndication feeds

Account Login

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software