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Rays of Hope Home's future uncertain

by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Department of Mental Health was given a January 15 deadline to have repairs and renovations completed for the Rays of Hope Home. That date has since passed and officials are still skeptical on what's going to happen next not only to the facility, but to its programs, too.

Guam Legal Services executive director Harold Parker says he hasn't heard much from Mental Health. The agency was given a mid-January deadline to have the repairs and renovations to the Tamuning facility completed. While students under the Rays of Hope program have been in temporary facilities for a number of months now, work continues at the home.

While it's clear that some progress has been made, according to Parker, officials still question the agency's intent for the newly renovated facility. "The work does look like it's coming along fairly well, although it's not anywhere done," he said. "It's looking good, but the question is whether it's going to be the Rays of Hope program in there, or is it going to be the Step-Down program in there? Or what is it going to be?"

Parker says these questions need to be answered soon because despite challenges, the programs for the children need to go on. He says the government cannot afford to keep sending kids off-island for treatment, adding, "There's one off-island right now, hopefully he'll be back soon. We had a girl go off-island last year and she's back now; but as long as we keep sending them off-island, we're going to keep spending a lot of money."

While it isn't clear whether Wilfred Aflague will stay as the agency's director, Parker is hoping for some consistency. "Wilfred has been very involved in it for the last several months and he has a fair idea of where the program is going and where it should be going," he stated. It may be helpful. A new director might have a new idea on it on what should be done. So then it would be difficult because you'll have a change of plans."

In the meantime, a Systems of Care meeting will be held next Monday to determine what steps will be made. Parker said the discussions for that gathering would focus on "Finding out what the plan is and what the whole idea is going to be, what programs are going to be set up, what they will function as and where."

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