Sparky Harlan

Sparky Harlan

Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.

Posts by Sparky Harlan

Review: ‘The Fosters’ and the Complexities of TV, Child Welfare

I had high hopes for the new ABC Family cable show The Fosters when I saw the first promo. Produced by Jennifer Lopez, the new summer series highlights a new “non-traditional” family with foster children, and I was anxious to see how a foster family and the child welfare system would be portrayed on TV. But, after watching a few episodes, and speaking with a couple of foster kids about it, I have mixed feelings.

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The Sequester and the Local Impact

After months of reading about the horrors of sequestration, most folks didn’t even blink when President Obama signed the document ordering the cuts beginning March 1, 2013. Call it “sequestration fatigue,” but the hype leading up to the date was akin to the expectation of all computers crashing on Y2K. While I have heard some pundits call the 2.3 percent reduction in Federal government spending “budget dust,” the cuts target certain departments and programs and leaves others alone.

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Behind the Scenes at the Receiving Center for Neglected, Abused Children

The Juvenile Justice Commission released a distressing report last week on the newly opened county receiving center for neglected and abused children. Sparky Harlan says the inspection was done just days after the center opened, and while they’re were some extenuating circumstances on relocating the children, most if not all of the issues have since been corrected.

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RDA Clawback Imperils Important Projects

Last week, I attended the meeting of the Redevelopment Agency Successor Oversight Board for the City of Santa Clara. I urged the group to reject the California Finance Department’s move to “clawback” $1.25 million from Bill Wilson Center’s Peacock Commons housing project.

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‘Good Samaritan’ Law Should Save Lives

I was reminded of my first job out of college, dealing with people who had bad experiences with drugs, when I read about the new California “Good Samaritan Overdose Protection Law,” which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. This law very well could save lives.

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Bridging the Gap for Disconnected Youth

The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Dec. 18 a new initiative for addressing homeless young adults ages 18-24, usually referred to as “transition-age youth.” According to the NY Times, the Obama administration is focusing on this new and growing homeless population. While the recession hit all age groups, young adults were particularly hard hit with unemployment.

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Nonprofit Mergers Will Help the Homeless

Nonprofit agencies are expected to serve the public good, be mission-driven and operate like a business. We nonprofits need to be compassionate, yet focused on obtaining successful outcomes. To end homelessness, the direction is clear: Move the homeless into housing quickly and provide ongoing support services. However, emergency services are still needed for homeless individuals—a meal when someone is hungry, warm clothes and a bed during cold winter months.

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Sex Laws and the Election

Looks like Proposition 35 is already under fire after winning with a resounding 81 percent of the vote on election night. Prop. 35 increases penalties for human traffickers and requires those convicted of even a misdemeanor to report their Internet provider and user name to law enforcement. A judge blocked this part of the proposition after the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a complaint.

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