House Overwhelmingly Approves Legislation to Stop Child Abuse in Residential Treatment Programs
I take this as good news:
The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009
What does it mean? Some regulation, some much-needed oversight and transparency. (Sounds like a good thing).
To learn more about the “troubled teen industry,” and “therapeutic boarding schools,” have a look at our ever-expanding documentary-in-progress, on the mother of them all, the Cedu School.
For the ex-Cedu-ees – How many of the following rights were violated at Cedu? (And do we trust the Federal Gov’t to oversee anything?)
Well.. it’s something, and I’m grateful.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved legislation to protect teenagers attending residential programs from physical, mental, and sexual abuse and increase transparency to help parents make safe choices for their children. The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009 (H.R. 911) won strong bipartisan support, with a vote of 295 to 102.
Investigations conducted by the Government Accountability Office during the 110th Congress at the request of U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, uncovered thousands of cases and allegations of child abuse and neglect since the early 1990’s at teen residential programs, including therapeutic boarding schools, boot camps, wilderness programs and behavior modification facilities. A separate GAO report also conducted at Miller’s request found major gaps in the licensing and oversight of residential programs. Where state licensing standards exist, these programs are governed by a weak patchwork of state and federal standards, however some are not covered at all.
Keeping Kids Safe [HERE]
Keep teens safe with new national standards for residential programs that are focused on teens with behavioral, emotional, or mental health, or substance abuse problems
- Prohibit programs from physically, mentally, or sexually abusing children in their care;
- Prohibit programs from denying children essential water, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care – whether as a form of punishment or for any other reason;
- Require programs to provide children with reasonable access to a telephone and inform children accordingly;
- Require programs to train staff in what constitutes child abuse and neglect and how to report it;
- Require that programs only physically restrain children if it is necessary for their safety or the safety of others, and to do so in a way that is consistent with federal law already applicable in other contexts; and
- Require programs to have plans in place to provide emergency medical care.
Prevent deceptive marketing by residential programs for teens
- Require programs to disclose to parents the qualifications, roles, and responsibilities of staff members;
- Require programs to notify parents of substantiated reports of child abuse or violations of health and safety laws; and
- Require programs to include a link or web address for the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which will carry information on residential programs.
Hold teen residential programs accountable for violating the law
- Require states to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of reports of child abuse and neglect at covered programs and require HHS to conduct investigations of such programs to determine if a violation of the national standards has occurred; and
- Provide HHS the authority to assess civil penalties up to $50,000 for every violation of the law.
Ask states to step in to protect teens in residential programs
Within three years, states must require all public and private programs to be licensed, meet standards that are at least as stringent as the national standards, and implement a monitoring and enforcement system. The Department of Health and Human Services would continue to inspect programs where a child fatality has occurred or where a pattern of violations has emerged.