Pledges Add $600,000 for Crisis Center

Times Staff Writer

A children's crisis center slated for construction at Camarillo State Hospital is expected to receive an important boost from two donors today.

Ronald McDonald's Childrens Charities has pledged $300,000 to help build the facility, which is to cost $6 million to $10 million. Financier David Murdock, who built the luxury development of Lake Sherwood in Thousand Oaks, has also pledged $300,000, Ventura County Supervisor Madge L. Schaefer said this week.

"The generosity . . . has given a meaningful kickoff to a very important project to the victimized children of Ventura County," said Schaefer, who represents Thousand Oaks. "I wish there was no need for a facility of this type but sadly there is."

Schaefer and the donors will announce the grants today at the new Sherwood Country Club, which Murdock built as part of the Lake Sherwood development.

85 Children

The proposed crisis center, called Casa Pacifica, would house as many as 85 abused, neglected and abandoned children who are now placed in temporary foster homes or sit in police stations and other institutional settings while the county tries to find homes for them.

As many as 70 abused or neglected children are placed in temporary foster homes each month, county officials said.

Last year, the state Legislature approved a bill allowing Ventura County to build the center on 23 acres at Camarillo State Hospital. The 541-acre hospital property, which once housed about 7,000 patients, serves less than 1,200 mentally ill and developmentally disabled patients.

The County Board of Supervisors has earmarked $2 million to build Casa Pacifica. The Youth Connection, a private, nonprofit group that hopes to raise the balance, will start building the cottage-style facility in phases as money becomes available. Plans call for the Youth Connection to sublease the center from the county for a nominal amount and run it.

The Ronald McDonald's Childrens Charities was founded in memory of Ray Kroc, who started the McDonald's restaurant chain. It awards grants to children's groups worldwide for health care, medical research, rehabilitation facilities and special education programs, and will donate $100,000 for each of three years to build Casa Pacifica.

Murdock, a high-profile developer in Ventura County, agreed to match the McDonald's grant, Schaefer said.

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