Letters to the Editor

Get your facts straight

The abandoned hot dog stand – a small house – facing 12th street was not the location of ACAP Child and Family Services. Another small childcare center used the two houses.

ACAP had a long partnership with the Auburn YMCA and was located on the former YMCA footprint in Les Gove Park across from the Herr Lumber with ACAP's driveway onto Deal's way, now a vacant lot. The agency had an annual budget of $1 million dollars and provided full-day childcare, special needs services, Headstart, and infant care for 75 to 125 low-and-very-low income, often at-risk, children.

The agency hosted an annual breakfast that took in more than $30,000 each year from local citizens to support kids. Many of those children were direct referrals from DSHS Child Protective Services.

The agency maintained a masters level special needs counselor to work with children and families. It also provided APPLE parenting for court referred and other parents serving families from all over the Puget Sound region. Programs were highly regarded by United Way, King County Public Health, Headstart, Washington DSHS, and mental health agencies who often referred children.

The agency was located in three separate buildings, which were owned by ACAP, free and clear and well maintained, licensed by both the State of Washington and Headstart. With a historic agreement from the City – because the agency was valued for its services – ACAP paid $1 per year for rent for use of the land.

This all came to an end when the council and mayor wanted to build a new community center. Rather than locating it next to ACAP — "That (ACAP complex of buildings) is not the kind of an entrance we want to the park" — they chose to evict the agency, giving it less than 3 months to get off the land. A former councilwoman was heard to say, "We will get them out and bulldoze the buildings."

The agency lost more than $75,000 in new grants to upgrade the facility. You can't legally accept money to upgrade a facility that will be bulldozed. There was not enough time to find a new site or secure new funds to move the buildings to a new site.

These mayoral and council decisions were all made in secret. Agency staff was told not to discuss it by the board president, an Auburn City Policeman. Parents were not to be informed. When parents were informed, their feelings were not considered by City officials, who were upset because parents knew and requested a meeting. No amount of "minimizing" the agency is going to reduce or hide the immoral and unethical actions of local politicians or the loss of services to traumatized and at-risk kids.

The Parks director, in discussing a long-range plan for the park, indicated that the City wanted all the buildings from AYR down to the corner of 12th. That included the profitable gas station on the corner, another business the City didn't need. It appears this current plan was made in a secret meeting without public input, just like the ACAP actions.

Is Auburn a little "New Jersey?"

– Deanna L. Briese, former executive director of ACAP

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