Author Topic: H.R. 3126 REINTRODUCTION OF BILL 911 "STOP CHILD ABUSE..."  (Read 1492 times)

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Offline Jill Ryan

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« on: January 13, 2012, 03:45:51 PM »



H.R. 3126: The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011

Issues: Education, Other Education and Youth Issues

On October 6, 2011, two senior Democratic lawmakers from the House and the Senate reintroduced legislation to stop abuse in teen residential programs. U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the Senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, reintroduced H.R. 3126, "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act " to set common-sense, minimum safety standards that states would need to adopt and enforce to protect teens from physical, mental and sexual abuse in these programs.
 •Facts on H.R. 3126
 •Documented Incidents of Abuse
 •Letters of Support
 •GAO Reports on Residential Facilites: ?"Improved Data and Enhanced Oversight Would Help Safeguard the Well-Being of Youth with Behavioral and Emotional Challenges," May 2008 (.pdf)
 ?"Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing," April 2008 (.pdf)
 ?"State and Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth Well-Being," April 2008 (.pdf)
 ?"Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth," October 2007 (.pdf)

Keeping Kids Safe: Facts on The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011
Tens of thousands of U.S. teenagers attend private and public residential programs – including therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, and behavior modification facilities – that are intended to help them with behavioral, emotional, mental health, or substance abuse problems. Depending on the state in which the program operates, some of these programs are subject to State law or regulation, while others are not. As a result of this loose patchwork of state oversight, children at some the programs have been subject to abuse and neglect with little to no accountability.
The Government Accountability Office found thousands of allegations of child abuse and neglect at residential programs for teens since the early 1990s. Tragically, in a number of cases, this abuse and neglect led to the death of a child. To address this urgent problem, the “Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011” would:
Keep teens safe with minimum standards for residential programs that are focused on teens with behavioral, emotional, 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.
Increase transparency to help parents make safer choices for their children
 •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.
Documented Incidents of Abuse at Residential Programs
In August, 2009, a 16-year-old boy died after ‘boot camp’ staff failed to provide medical care on a hike when he began to show significant and prolonged signs of heat exhaustion. In an affidavit requesting a search warrant the Sheriff’s Deputy indicated that he believed the death was a homicide and the result of criminal mistreatment and reckless endangerment by the school.  After an investigation the Oregon Department of Human services found evidence that at least two staff members neglected the care of the victim by failing to provide medical which likely endangered his life. (Bend, OR)

A 17-year-old girl collapsed on a nature walk and died several weeks later in the hospital; it was later discovered that at least seven employees of the center were lacking in CPR training. (New Ulm, TX, 7/10)

A 16-year-old boy died after a staff member physically restrained him in a closet because the child refused to show the staff member what he had in his hand; it turned out to be a pen cap.  That same year, a 16 year old girl had been sexually abused by a staff member at the same facility. (Manvel, TX, 2010-2011)

Sexual Abuse
Two 15-year-old boys were given drugs and cigarettes in exchange for sex by a staff member who pleaded no contest to four felony counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and was sentenced to prison for one to fifteen years. (Roosevelt, UT, 11/09)

16-year-old girl said she had sexual contact with a 32-year-old youth care specialist.  An affidavit states that another 17-year-old girl witnessed sexual contact between them in the staff member’s car. (Lincoln, NE, 12/09) (Man was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contenst to a misdemeanor of attempted sex abuse, a downgrade from the original two felony accounts of sex abuse of a protected person.)

According to a report by VA licensing officials, the facility failed to properly report and document an allegation of sexual abuse within 24 hours to the agency that places the child in the facility and to the resident's guardian. The facility also failed to properly document a January allegation in which the boy said another resident touched him in a sexual manner. (Norfolk, VA, 1/11) (Regained full license several months later.) This same facility was also investigated for a series of incidents that included:
A choking that rendered a resident unconscious that staff referred to as ‘horse play’
Staff telling paramedics responding to a 911 call that a girl was suffering from respiratory distress, but not that she had attempted suicide;
Staff failing to report two other suicide attempts to regulators;
Staff telling regulators that the fire department responded to a false alarm instead of a small fire that forced an evacuation;
Staff allowing residents to run away.

Other Reports of Neglect
As they had done in previous years, regulators told Refuge administrators in 2010 to stop some of the home's punitive practices and carry out more staff training. Violations included providing insufficient food and clothing, mishandling of residents’ money and medications, abusive treatment by an inadequately trained staff, and therapeutic support for the troubled young residents was all but nonexistent. The division also scheduled quarterly inspections of Refuge for the next year, a far more intensive regimen than normal, but an October memo from the deputy director of the Community Care Licensing Division said the California budget crisis had weakened the agency’s ability to monitor residential program. (Oakland, CA, 2010-2011)

Letters of Support for H.R. 3126:
 •American Bar Association

"Parents of troubled children need greater confidence that, when they place their child in a residential facility their child will be safe and properly cared for, the child’s human rights and dignity will be protected and the staff of the facility will be qualified to help their child. For these parents, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act represents a significant and necessary federal step to help protect American children and youth from abuse and neglect in residential care."
 •American Academy of Pediatrics

"The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act would establish a framework for the regulation and inspection of residential programs that offer specialized therapy or behavior modification for children and adolescents. The bill would ensure that facilities adhere to minimum child protection standards and disclose staff training and qualifications. It would also require parents to be informed of any changes to a child’s health care regimen, such as changes to medication. Each of these measures will improve transparency and help ensure the quality of such programs. "
 •American Humane Association

"It is critical that families seeking help for their children in need of mental or other behavioral health services including substance abuse treatment are able to select and find providers who are meeting the proper safety and health standards."
 •The Arc (formerly Disability Policy Coalition)

"Whether at home or in alternative residential programs, children’s safety comes first. Children subjected to abusive environments cannot learn, grow, or reach their potential. Given the repeated, substantiated claims of abuse and death in residential facilities, legislation is needed to ensure that our country’s children are safe, properly cared for, and situated to learn and grow to the best of their abilities. We believe the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act provides the reporting mechanisms, funding, surveillance, and training requirements needed to ensure that facilities are staffed with qualified, equipped, and safe personnel."
 •Autism National Committee  (AutCom)

"The bill will ensure that children of all ages placed in residential programs are to be free from abuse and neglect. These facilities include any private or public residential program with a focus on serving children who have emotional, behavioral, or mental health problems or disorders; or alcohol or substance abuse problems. A number of children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome are in such programs."
 •Association of University Centers on Disabilities  (AUCD)

"The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act recognizes, and balances properly, the important role of both the federal and state governments in protecting children from abuse and neglect at the hands of some residential programs. Additionally, the bill will provide families with the critical information necessary to make informed decisions."
 •Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

?"Programs designed to offer treatment for mental health or substance abuse must use quality programs grounded in best practices that ensure the safety of children. Families often have to make extremely difficult choices when seeking placements for children with these types of needs. Unfortunately, a number of the programs your legislation seeks to regulate flourish because parents lack even the most basic information, including whether their children will be treated humanely."
 •Mental Health Coalition

"We applaud your resolve to address the challenges facing many families. Your crucial legislation would seek relief from these risks by (1) establishing standards for these programs that are consistent with current child protection laws; (2) ensuring that personnel is qualified; (3) shifting these programs to be family-centered, as well as culturally and developmentally appropriate; (4) creating mechanisms for the monitoring and enforcement of these goals; (5) calling for greater transparency and accessibility to the compliance of these standards; and (6) providing grants to states for the prevention of child abuse and neglect and for the treatment of children’s mental health or substance use conditions."
 •National Child Abuse Coalition (NCAC)

"We believe that legislation is needed to ensure children’s safety in all such programs. We share your belief that Congress has an obligation to ensure that children are safe when they are entrusted to the care of a residential treatment program. Residential facilities treating and caring for children should not be exempt from state licensure and state regulation or inspection."
 •American Association of Children's Residential Centers (AACRC)

"Your effort to promulgate and staunchly support this legislation has generated a great deal of activity that is yielding positive outcomes in reshaping individual residential programs and the system."
 •Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)

"Your legislation, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs For Teens Act, has raised the profile of unsafe and unacceptable practices in some residential children’s programs and this increased attention has resulted in positive changes."
 •Easter Seals

"The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act will go a long way to protect children who find themselves in residential programs. The bill will also help families who must face the terrible decision to place their child in a residential facility by providing them with essential information the need to make the most appropriate decision."
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