Optimist Youth Homes Expansion Offer More Hope for Abused and Neglected Youth
Sil Orlando, the Chief Executive Officer of Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services, a Highland Park-based organization that provides comprehensive treatment, specialized education and support services to abused and neglected youth joins Enterprise Radio.
Listen to host Eric Dye & guest Sil Orlando discuss the following:
- Tell us about Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services.
- We understand there was a recent merger. Can you tell us more about that?
- Please describe the type of youth you help and what is their future like after they leave.
- What types of activities do you offer? I understand you have an auto shop and sports, for example.
- We’d love to hear a few success stories about your young people as they became adults.
Silvio John Orlando is Chief Executive Officer of Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services, a Highland Park-based organization that provides comprehensive treatment, specialized education and support services to abused and neglected youth. Named to the position in February 1999, he is responsible for the overall operation of the agency. He has been working in the field of child welfare for over 40 years.
Prior to joining OYHFS, Orlando was the Associate Executive Director at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in West Los Angeles (1988-1999), where he was, among other things, responsible for the agency’s residential program. He led that agency to accreditation by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and led a team that introduced TIER, a computerized clinical record system. Further, he initiated a contract with the Department of Mental Health to provide clinical and program services to Vista residents, established their non-public school, and earned a reputation as an expert in treatment planning, scheduling, fiscal accountability and knowledge of accreditation standards.
Mr. Orlando is a past- president of The Association of Community Human Services Agencies, and a past- president of the California Alliance of Children and Family Services.
He began his career at Shawbridge Youth Centers, a child welfare agency near Montreal, Canada in 1970. In 1978, he was appointed Campus Director of its residential program and later also assumed command of the agency’s community services division. From 1983-1988, he served as The Assistant Director of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls School (a division of JBFCS) which is a residential treatment facility in Westchester County, New York
A native of Montreal, Sil graduated from Loyola College of Montreal with two bachelor’s degrees, one in psychology. He holds a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from the Boston College School of Social Work.
A few of his accomplishments since being at Optimist include: increasing the number of children serve from 200 to 700 every day through the addition of several new programs; increasing the annual agency budget from 17 million to 36 million, adding some 200 staff, and negotiating a contract with the LA County Department of Mental Health which is now 7.9 million dollars. He built a 24,000 square foot Youth Learning Center on our main campus. In addition he led to effort to achieve national accreditation from the Council on Accreditation and established effective quality improvement and development departments. In 2013 he negotiated with the County of Los Angeles to open a Charter school on Optimist’s main campus to serve probation and foster youth. The school is WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accredited. In 2015 the agency was certified by the Human Rights Campaign as a LGBTQ provider of excellence.
In January 2017 he completed the acquisition of Pacific Lodge Youth Services in Woodland Hills, a long standing agency with some similar programs and population served as Optimist. Pacific Lodge is now a division of Optimist, making Optimist the largest provider of residential beds for probation youth in the entire state of California.
He has truly brought us to the point where the agency is highly respected by both the professional and lay communities and is seen as a leader in the field.