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Associated Residential Services, Inc. (ARS) is a nonprofit human service agency organized in 2000 under the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for charitable purposes. The agency is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and has been granted 501(c) status for Federal Tax Exemption purposes.

The primary mission of ARS is to provide Licensed Group Homes for San Diego’s Foster Care youth; kids that are made protective wards of the court following their removal from neglectful, abusive households. As most of these children end up being raised by the system, it is our obligation to raise them as humanely as possible, and to minimize the adverse effects the regulatory system has on the very children they are charged to serve.

In carrying out our mission, ARS embraces the necessity of community involvement and support, and operates from the premise that there is a collective responsibility for the task of guiding children into adult independence. Our group home has established strong ties of support and appreciation in our neighborhood, and has received invaluable support from the business community in providing jobs for our young adults.

ARS has implemented a distinctive, if not unique, residential care model and has been recognized by the County of San Diego for the exemplary work we do in successfully emancipating foster youth from the dependency system. On November 11, 2004, ARS was honored with the Channel 10 News Leadership Award for normalizing the lives of foster youth. ARS was further honored by the County Commission on Children, Youth and Families with a STARS Award Nomination in April of 2010.

Please contact us if you have further interest in learning about the work we do with San Diego’s youth, or if you would be interested in visiting the group home to meet the kids and staff. Thank you.

Michael Clawson
Executive Director

1. San Diego County Child Protective Services receives over 80,000 Hotline calls a year, indicating a concern that a child is being abused or neglected.

  • When circumstances warrant, the child is removed from the home and placed in a County receiving facility that is usually near or at capacity.
  • More than 6,000 children enter the Foster Care system every year.
  • Being removed from their home continues to be one of the most traumatic experiences any child can face.

2. The Children’s Advocacy Institute of the USD School of Law has tracked the current catastrophic outcomes: “Foster youth end up disproportionately homeless, impoverished, pregnant, unemployed and in prison. It is not genetic. It is the predictable result of current hypocrisy and contempt in family values importance.”

A. “80% of California prison inmates passed through the foster care system, at an average annual cost of over $40,000.” (www.caichildlaw.org)

B. Within 12 to 18 months of aging out of the system: 27% of the males and 10% of the females were incarcerated, 33% were receiving public assistance, 46% had not finished high school, 50% were unemployed and 30% were homeless.” (www.caichildlaw.org)

3. Out of necessity to manage large numbers of children, the foster care system has evolved into a “warehousing” system which does very little to teach children life skills.

Children are often managed as passive objects by behavior modification programs that arrange artificial environments to control and manipulate kids into compliance.
Increased dependency and diminished capacity for decision making, problem solving and coping are fostered.

The children of today’s society are facing increasing pressures and problems with decreasing adult support and guidance. Most of these children are innocent victims of abuse and neglect, usually at the hands of dysfunctional adults. The crisis is destabilizing families and neighborhoods in urban and suburban areas alike. The problem can not be overstated, and the human toll on our communities is potentially devastating.

At Associated Residential Services, Inc., we:

1. Meet the most basic needs of kids by providing a physically safe, psychologically secure and emotionally supportive household.

2. Provide the opportunity for children to forge authentic relationships with caring, competent adults, and receive daily supportive guidance toward developing personal responsibility, coping skills and decision making ability.

3. Provide children the opportunity to be an active participant in the planning of their lives, fostering self empowerment and self determination. Each child is encouraged to take the lead in actively problem solving, managing and mediating the disturbing difficulties of daily life, fostering independent thinking.

4. Provide the opportunity for kids to question and challenge adult world views, and to be supportively challenged to critically reflect on their choices, actions and world views. Reaffirms and emphasizes the value of family and community as a cornerstone of societal stability.

5. Provide the opportunity to be listened to, heard, acknowledged and validated. Respect, shared decision making and partnered problem solving are utilized at each point of engagement.

In 24 hour Residential Care, the above opportunities and benefits are woven into the fabric of each child’s daily life: an ongoing interpretative movement toward insight and understanding. The uncertainty of how each child will apply these benefits in their lives can never diminish or undo the certainty of their learning experience at ARS.
By preparing children to be mature, responsible, contributing community members, a $8,000+ per month per child cost to taxpayers is eliminated, and the potential for continuing cost to society, both financial and emotional, is greatly reduced.
What can not be measured in dollars and cents is the deep sense of acceptance, worth, value and wholeness felt by each child, and the recovery of their inherent right to fulfillment. The alternative can be devastating.