Tamara Wade joined the SACPA Assessment Center in July 2001 after working in Judge Manley's Drug Treatment Court. The following opinions and observations are based on her experience as part of the SACPA team:
"I am an advocate for treatment, and I thought Proposition 36 (SACPA) offered more people–including parolees–the chance to get clean and sober. The new Assessment Center on Julian Street has been a great success. We have worked well with Probation and have met most of our deadlines. I am supposed to focus on dual- diagnosis clients, but I always end up helping out with other referrals as well. We get most requests for assessments back to Court within one week. If clients have already been assessed more than once or have Parole or out-of-county holds, we let the Court know that we will assess them as soon as the holds are released.”
"Dual-diagnosis clients are the most complex–and also the most frustrating. We struggle to place these clients in our system because their level of functioning is too low for residential programs, which expect clients to perform chores and participate in house activities. Dual-diagnosis clients often need modalities such as intensive day treatment that our system doesn't offer. We all agree on the need for integrated services, but we don't actually offer much of it.”
"I’ve been surprised by how serious the charges are for some of our referrals. We see ‘one- and two-strikers,’ domestic-violence offenders, and even sex offenders. The latter are especially hard to place because of restrictions in the District Attorney's certification guidelines. I’ve also been surprised by how many chances some offenders get. Because courts don't want clients to lose access to SACPA services, some judges are reluctant to terminate a SACPA client’s involvement–even though the offender has many violations. This will probably change when programs and the courts become more comfortable with declaring clients "unamenable to treatment".
Ms Wade has an M.S.W. from San Jose State University and is working on accumulating the 3,000 supervised hours she needs for her LCSW license. When she isn’t working, she helps raise two stepchildren (a daughter, age 5; and a son, age 10), and is particularly proud that her daughter attends a bilingual Spanish immersion school. For fun, Ms Wade belongs to an eight-person book club.