SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — At first glance, you might mistake this place for a college dorm.
Far from it. These cottages house foster kids, some under the age of 5, and many are teens who've never lived in a real home.
Here, at the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento, they stay active, eat balanced meals, and receive counseling.
David Ballard, the CEO, gave a tour of his six-acre campus to show the good happening behind these discrete gates off busy Auburn Boulevard.
But it comes after a foster care nightmare happening in one of the buildings he leases here.
The state cited the intake center on his campus, for illegally housing neglected foster kids on a lobby floor. CBS13 spoke to an unidentified teen who says she slept on an air mattress, sometimes on the tile floor, for a year.
"I was asking for showers, food, I was asking for clothes, they wouldn't give me," she said.
The state has ordered welfare workers to stop letting troubled children sleep on the floor- while waiting for placement.
Instead, the Children's Home plans to take in the kids—dozens a month.
Does Ballard have enough space?
"I believe I do. We have 89 beds, some of the more kids with difficult behaviors I want to be sure we can assure safety for them," he said.
Ballard plans to add beds and staff. But advocates say the state needs to find permanent solutions. State Sen. Holly Mitchell says California is working on phasing out group homes altogether, in place of foster homes.
"It is horrific that we remove children who are already at risk in their own homes and put them at further risk under the watch of government, said Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles),
State social services officials are giving the intake center until Sept. 30 to come into compliance.