Casa Serena

A Joyous and Purposeful Life

Santa Barbara, CA   |  www.casaserena.org

Mission

To help women and their families recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders by providing evidence-based treatment services while building community, instilling self-determination, and empowering them with educational opportunities and financial literacy.

Notes from the nonprofit

Casa Serena has been serving our community for over 60 years. We feel strongly that every woman who comes to us with a desire to live an addiction-free life should be granted the opportunity, regardless of her ability to pay for treatment. We were founded upon the principle of helping others, and we stand dedicated in our commitment to return mothers to their children as clean and sober role models for future generations.

Ruling year info

1974

CEO/Executive Director

Ms. Lisette Fraser

Main address

1515 Bath St

Santa Barbara, CA 93101 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

95-2862385

NTEE code info

Group Home, Residential Treatment Facility - Mental Health Related (F33)

Alcohol, Drug Abuse (Treatment Only) (F22)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Substance use disorder, commonly associated with underlying mental health issues, has devastating effects on women and their families: • “Co-occurring disorders, meaning the simultaneous diagnosis of both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, are common… Reports show that 53% of people who abuse drugs and 37% percent of people who abuse alcohol have one or more serious mental illnesses” (www.altamirarecovery.com). • The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has estimated that substance abuse is a factor in at least 70% of all reported cases of child maltreatment. • A 2008 survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that substance abuse was the single largest cause of homelessness for adults, and among the top three causes of homelessness for families. Upon program entry, 14% of our current clients were homeless and 39% were unemployed. During the year prior to entry, 10% had been in jail and 59% required urgent care visits.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Participants in our addiction and mental health disorders treatment curriculum receive support in building a solid foundation on which to base their recovery and reestablish their lives as sober women. The first phase of treatment consists of a structured 30-, 60-, or 90-day program at our Residential House, with a capacity for 15 women. The second phase takes place in our Sober Living Home, for both women without children and mothers with young children, for as long as needed. Since this treatment approach yields the highest rate of long-term success, it is widely considered the gold standard for people struggling with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder diagnoses.

Applying an evidence-based social model for treatment of mental health and addiction, we provide safe housing, nutritious meals, individualized treatment plans, counseling, introduction to all models of long-term recovery support groups, parenting support, medication education, and aftercare services.

Population(s) Served
Adults

At Casa Serena, we recognize families are essential partners in building strategies for a healthy family system. Besides exposing our clients’ families to 12 Step Support Groups, we have designed a special Children and Families Program to provide education, treatment, and support to our clients who are mothers, their children, and other family members who are afflicted by the devastating effects of substance use. This program enables us to help heal wounds resulting from addiction and teaches clients important parenting skills, resulting in families that are more whole, healthy, and stable.

In administering the program, a certified family therapist delivers the revolutionary Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) of therapy to our families. This exceptional treatment model increases the resiliency zone of mothers who suffer from trauma, improving their children’s safety from parental abuse and neglect. The Children and Families Program has enabled us to more than double our overall impact.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families
Children

Casa Serena administers our Job Readiness and Financial Literacy Program in order to provide employment-readiness training for our clients as they prepare to reenter the workforce. The program features sessions with community job trainer John Daly, who teaches our primarily low- to moderate-income clients vital tools for success in their search for employment. Participants learn essential tools for job success while receiving training in writing compelling resumes, interviewing effectively, dressing professionally, and workplace etiquette, and receive ongoing support in job hunting.

In this program we simultaneously provide participants with financial literacy training. This program component focuses on managing finances and includes fundamental subjects such as how to make a budget, develop responsible spending habits, save money, and plan for retirement. This helps to instill in our clients the accountability and financial stability that are essential to long-term sobriety.

Population(s) Served
Adults

In 2019-20, we introduced outpatient addiction and mental health counseling to our curriculum with our Outpatient Mental Health Program. This program enables our newly sober graduates to enter a transitional recovery phase where they continue to receive daily treatment services as they learn to live with their diagnosis. Because of great local need, we have expanded this program to also include many area adult women.

Due to the increased clientele, we have established a Mental Health & Substance Use Outpatient Treatment Center & Family Law Clinic. This facility provides outpatient group and individual therapy, psychiatric support, case management, and medication support.

It also houses our Family Law Clinic, wherein for several months throughout the year our clients and other local low-income women receive free legal services from area attorneys. This helps these women to surmount such challenges as divorce proceedings or custody battles, enabling them to focus on their recovery.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations

Joint Commission Accreditation on Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) 2019

Affiliations & memberships

DHCS License 2010

ASAM Certification 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of women served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Adults, Substance abusers

Related Program

Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Because our new Mental Health & Substance Use Outpatient Treatment Center is open to community members (in addition to our graduates), we expect to serve about 700 people annually by 2023.

Number of scholarships granted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Adults, Substance abusers

Related Program

Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

About 80% of our clientele are low- to moderate-income (LMI) individuals. We are glad to report that in 2020 we were able to provide scholarships to 40.5% of our clients.

Graduation rates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Adults, Substance abusers

Related Program

Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Casa Serena’s completion rate for 30 days of treatment is 94%—39% higher than the national average of 55%. Our 90-day completion rate is 86%—41% higher than the national average of 45%.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

In addition to the overarching goal of executing our mission to help women and their families overcome their addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, specific goals include:

1. To achieve a consistently higher client census in order to maintain our Residential House and Sober Living Home at full capacity, with waiting lists for both facilities, thus being able to help as many at-risk women and their families as possible.

2. To expand grant seeking to reach all possible grantors.

3. Continue paving the way toward an annual multi-day Addiction and Families Symposium once public health conditions permit that by 2023. This is planned to be a nationally advertised conference for recovery and health industry professionals, featuring clinical presentations, educational workshops, and a keynote speaker, held for the purpose of sharing with colleagues about our innovative addiction recovery curriculum for clients and their families, with the hope that it will be replicated at other treatment centers. More specifically, the symposium will help us spread the word and encourage discussion about how to ameliorate two significant gaps that we have identified in common approaches to treating addiction: (1) what we term the Substance Use-Child Endangerment Nexus, and how we are addressing it through our family systems treatment approach; and (2) the causative link between underlying mental health disorders and substance use, and how this should be addressed by administering co-occurring mental health treatment alongside a comprehensive substance use recovery curriculum. Through this annual conference, what we have learned can help improve outcomes far beyond our own treatment program, reaching many similar programs for women, men, and their families throughout Southern and Central California and beyond.

1. To achieve a consistently higher client census to maintain our Residential House and Sober Living Home at full capacity, thus helping more addicted women and their families, we are endeavoring to expand our outreach to other clinical professionals in our area, letting them know about our services and our willingness to take client referrals. And our Board of Directors is becoming increasingly engaged in fundraising and outreach.

Also, we are extending our outreach to the community in general by continuing to enlarge our “Did you know?” email campaign as part of our overall marketing strategy. The augmentation of this email campaign will increase Casa Serena’s visibility to our service area, by delivering to more people messages that provide information about our organization and how we can help them through our life-saving services.

Moreover, we are working to increase funding from potential new grantors so that we can offer program scholarships to more drug- and alcohol-dependent women, many of whom are low-income individuals and cannot afford to pay for their treatment. These scholarships allow these women to enter our residential recovery program. Also, our accreditation from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has now allowed us to become an in-network provider for all insurance carriers, thus now and in the future affording many more indigent women and their families access to our services.

2. To expand grant seeking to reach all possible grantors, we have been conducting research on charitable foundations and for 2021-22, we have identified a number of potential new funders, to whom our focus on ameliorating underlying mental health issues, expanded service area, more ethnically equitable outreach and services, innovative and scalable family-centric programming, streamlined operations, and larger annual budget may prove attractive. And about 60 of these potential new grantors are interested in funding outpatient mental health and/or family law clinics; these could help to fund our new Mental Health & Substance Use Outpatient Treatment Center & Family Law Clinic.

3. In preparation for our first annual multi-day Addiction and Families Symposium, we have conducted a number of one-day educational workshops for other healthcare professionals and organizations in our area. Following the passing of the Covid-19 pandemic we plan to deliver more of these local educational events. Besides advancing clinical knowledge and best treatment practices, these workshops increase collegiality among our community health colleagues and, in general, help pave the way for our planned symposium.

We also intend to help make this first annual conference a reality in part by applying for initial funding from interested foundations and donors. Once we establish the Symposium, we anticipate it will be largely self-funding through ticket sales, and by Year 4 it should yield positive revenue for Casa Serena.

Casa Serena possesses both internal and external resources, enabling us to provide effective addiction and mental health disorder treatment services for women. Lisette Fraser, Casa Serena's CEO and Executive Director, has long experience in overseeing treatment facilities. Her efforts to strengthen our programs and services are supported by the coordinated efforts of Clinical Director Sandra Mistretta and Clinical Supervisor Jacqueline Kurta.


Our Board of Directors is led by Erin Schaden, a law firm executive and attorney who has been instrumental in helping the organization achieve its key goals. Decisions are made collaboratively and are based on recommendations from Casa Serena’s Executive Director and her senior management group.

Our clinical team is made up of a psychiatrist for medication management, a nurse practitioner for medication education, licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Marriage and Family Therapist Associates (AMFT), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC), and Certified Mental Health Technicians (CMHT). Our clinical and program staff have considerable experience in the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders along with the social model for treatment of addictive behaviors, and have been instrumental in developing our unique family-centric programming, which seeks to heal and strengthen both substance-involved women as well as their children and other immediate family members.

Casa Serena's residential facilities are designed to provide safe, comfortable home environments for our clients as they recover from drug and alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our Residential House is a charming Victorian home situated in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. With multiple bedrooms upstairs, large living room, den, kitchen, and dining room downstairs, and a beautiful private backyard, we deliver treatment services in a pleasant, positive environment. This reinforces our message of creating community in recovery.

Located just a block from the Residential House is our Sober Living Home. Consolidating our continuing care services in this larger and closer facility is saving us $40,000 in annual staffing costs. This residence is the only mental health and sober living facility in Santa Barbara that accepts both recovering women and their children. It is also the site of weekly Alcoholics Anonymous Women’s Meetings offering childcare.

Casa Serena also utilizes valuable external resources by working closely with other organizations who seek to meet the same needs, such as Santa Barbara County Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services, Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Cottage Residential Center, and Family Service Agency. Other local organizations we regularly work with include Child Welfare Services, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, and the Santa Barbara County Food Rescue Program.

As of July 2021 we began Year 3 of our three-year Strategic Plan. The plan focuses on objectives such as expanding our programs to serve our clients better; increasing revenue and bolstering our budget; and increasing community awareness and diversifying the populations we serve. Over the past few years we have been able to accomplish many of our goals, including:

• Expanding our curriculum by inaugurating our Detox Program, wherein we help newly arrived addicted women to rid their bodies of toxic or unhealthy substances through the process of detoxification. Being able to immediately provide much needed detox to these women onsite allows us to seize a window of opportunity where these individuals are open and receptive to receiving help. After detox, they are often ready to begin our treatment program and start their recovery from addiction and mental health disorders.

• Launching our Mental Health & Substance Use Outpatient Treatment Center and Family Law Clinic. As detailed in the Programs section, in addition to our residential program, we now offer outpatient mental health and addiction counseling for both our graduates and many local at-risk women. The outpatient facility also houses our Family Law Clinic, wherein for several months throughout the year our clients, as well as other area low-income women, receive free legal services from local attorneys.

• Broadening our outreach, while diversifying our clientele. We continue to strive to help more women of color, to more closely reflect the demographics of our community. We have extended our outreach efforts into North County, where the underserved LatinX community is significantly larger. We have done presentations at homeless shelters, Child Welfare Services, and Victim Advocate Centers and distributed our brochure in Spanish. We are also working to further diversify as an organization, as we seek to hire more bilingual staff. And we conduct regular trainings to ensure cultural competence and sensitivity of all program staff.

• Achieving the industry gold standard of care from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). In 2019, we passed the JCAHO survey and have received national accreditation by the Joint Commission in behavioral health, which recognizes the highest standard of care for substance use and mental health treatment. Due to this accreditation, Casa Serena has become an in-network provider for all insurance carriers, thus increasing revenue and, most importantly, affording many more low-income women and their families access to our services.

In building upon our successes, our aforementioned goals for the near future include:

• Achieving a consistently higher client census in order to maintain our Residential House and Sober Living Home at full capacity, with waiting lists for both facilities.
• Expanding grant seeking to reach all possible grantors.
• Launching our first annual multi-day Addiction and Families Symposium.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The people we serve with our mission are adult women with substance use disorders and their children, from all ethnic backgrounds. These women are often addicted to multiple substances, and most of them are diagnosed with co-occurring mental disorders—these underlying mental health issues cause our clients to self-medicate through substance use. Prior to joining our recovery program many of our clients lived with the trauma, abuse, and violence so many women face. On average, 80% of our clients are low income individuals. Upon entering our program, 39% were unemployed, and 14% were homeless. During the year prior to entry, 10% had been in jail and 59% required urgent care visits. Some of our clients also have children to care for and therefore must confront especially complex issues.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.),

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Because we track trends, we recently noticed a trend of clients rating one of our therapeutic process groups very low. Upon internal investigation, we learned that the curriculum needed to be updated to better pertain to the current client needs. We were able to modify the curriculum to align more effectively with the milieu and noticed that the ratings began to consistently rise again.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback from the people we serve has changed our relationship for the better. Our clients feel validated that we want to know their thoughts regarding our services, and they trust us when we tell them we will listen to them, because we back this with action.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Casa Serena
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Casa Serena

Board of directors
as of 11/29/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Erin Schaden

Law Firm Executive Director

Ginger Woolf

Business Owner

Richard Heyman

Civil Engineer

Blaine Parker

Mortgage Broker

Barbara Rosenblum

Business Owner

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/20/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

No data

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data