After a year-long process of meetings, due diligence, license acquisitions and contract consolidations, Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services and Pacific Lodge Youth Services are now a single organization. As the surviving entity, Optimist, will operate Pacific Lodge as a division of our agency. Euna Ra-Smith, LCSW, formerly Optimist’s director of community based group homes, has been appointed as the director of the Pacific Lodge facility, reporting to our CEO Sil Orlando.
Pacific Lodge shares a similar history to Optimist having opened its doors to probation youth in 1923. The beautiful 10-acre campus in Woodland Hills houses up to 51 boys in the residential program referred from various departments of probation. In addition, there are mental health services offered to boys and their families in the residential program and to outpatient children and families as well, including a wrap-around program. Pacific Lodge has been well known throughout the professional community as a provider of excellence.
With the acquisition of Pacific Lodge, OYHFS is now the largest provider of residential services exclusively serving probation youth in the State of California.
As part of the merger agreement, Optimist agreed to maintain the Pacific Lodge name by making it a division of OYHFS. The assets were transferred to OYHFS with the exception of the land itself which will remain with that organization for now. In addition, three former board members from Pacific Lodge have joined the Optimist board, one as a vice-president.
Administrative functions such as finance, human resources, development, and quality improvement have been consolidated making for greater consistency and efficiency. Treatment programs maintain their independence on both campuses although philosophies and approaches are being integrated. Natural voluntary staff turnover throughout the process resulted in only two staff members (one from each organization) out of a total of over 400 having to be laid off. The remaining staff have been hired by OYHFS with their seniority maintained. HR policies and benefits were combined so that the same will apply to all staff.
As part of the process our executive team worked with the boards of both Pacific Lodge and OYHFS to complete a three year strategic plan with specific goals that will drive our development over the next three years. The plan also includes a revised administrative structure for the overall agency which has already been put in place.