Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - Jill Ryan

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 18



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."

CAN ~ Collective Action Network / Re: SUE SCHEFF ON ANDERSON COOPER
« on: January 09, 2012, 03:53:36 PM »
Quote from: "Guest3"
Sue Scheff... you poor, poor baby. You say your life was almost ruined? How about all the kids you KNOWINGLY sent to these abusive programs? You, Ms. Scheff are NOT a victim! ... interview/

If you've had an experience with Sue Scheff, I would encourage folks to send an email to Mr. Cooper: ... ree-speech



First priority were the children.  Second priority is to hold all those accountable for what was allowed to transpire at this facility.  Climbing an active Mt. St. Helens would be an easier task.  The behavior of the former Hidden Lake Academy, then Ridge Creek, Inc. facility, along with the State of Georgia was and continues to be inexcusable. Last checked, not following through with "mandatory reporting" in the good State of Georgia is a crime; it is a misdemeanor with a fine, but the state cannot even follow through with this.  Each year, several times over, the entire staff, plus state agency officials ... it might have just sent a message.
It is not over yet.  The GAO report is due out in a few weeks, which undoubtedly the state agencies will attempt to bury.  Another battle on the horizon and hopefully a public outcry for transparency.

Quote from: "Jill Ryan"
There is a poll on http://  if you would take a second, it would be appreciated.  We also need to hear from families.  There is a contact area on the blog.  Families also may contact the GAO in Georgia, Thanks much for your help and support.  We need it.
Lawsuit against the State of Georgia
87 % Favor
12% Not in Favor

There is a poll on http://  if you would take a second, it would be appreciated.  We also need to hear from families.  There is a contact area on the blog.  Families also may contact the GAO in Georgia, Thanks much for your help and support.  We need it.

Director of Counseling Anne Edens took credit for writing "Little Toy Soldiers."  Serious issues here.

Anne Edens " My observations on the closing of the school."

Everyone appears shocked by "Little Toy Soldiers."  I just spoke with the GAO -  confirmed they did not trip over nor see any "Little Toy Soldiers" or "Toy Animals."

Quote from: "someonesomewhere"
Jill, do you know what happened to Amy Klemm? She hung herself while I was there, (to the best of my memory) in the spring of 2003. It happened during one of the breaks, and she was airlifted by a ranger helicopter from lower left field. No one who knew her has any idea whatsoever what happened to her. Rumor was she was braindead, but that was just a rumor. A number of people I know who were friends with her would like to find out if she is still alive, how's she's doing, weather or not she's OK. Were you able to dig up any records on her at any point? was her attempt even reported? I would imagine that due to the severity of the incident and the ranger involvement there should be records out there somewhere. This was an especially troublesome incident because she threated to kill herself minutes prior to her doing so, and her counselor said to her "go ahead, make my day". His reaction was defended and justified by the administration and he was not fired.

Yes, I remember reading about "Amy's" case very well.  Staff have spoken about it, also.  Amy's "lifeflight" was before out time.  Unless she or her parents as guardians come forward, because of HIPPA laws, any settlement, the info cannot be released. I hope Amy is well enough to see the end of this.  This is for all the children.

You sound okay:)  I am glad.




Mr. Buccellato just does not know how to bow out gracefully. Now he cares about the children.To use the children like this on your final curtain call, is disgusting.   Ridge Creek School did not have food service since last Friday.  Buccellato and Edens wanted to contain this until the next Friday.   Yet, there was an apparent abundant supply of  "Little Toy Soldiers;" "Toy Animals" indeed.  One would imagine the Director of DFCS will mention tripping over "Little Toy Soldiers" last Tuesday.  This should be an interesting report. Of all the unusual events Wednesday,  the Director of the Georgia Advocacy Office must have welcomed the sight of  " Little Toy Soldiers" and "Toy Animals."... Perhaps, it was an "oversight." Stay tuned.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Little Toy Soldiers"

Ridge Creek School is closed and I will never look at little toy soldiers without thinking about the school, the students, familes, and colleagues I worked with while I was there.

Monday after lunch I broke the news to the students that Ridge Creek School would be closing it's doors by the end of the week.  There were tears and protests that it was not true.  Students and staff spent time at Lakefront consoling one another, then the students were dismissed to their dorms to pack and prepare for departures, whenever that would come.  

Later that day I saw some of the boys walking around and putting something on my car.  I asked what they were doing and they said they were putting out toy soldiers.  When I asked why, they said to protect the school.  The little toy soldiers are the Admin Building, the dorms, Academics, the Lodge, the Gym, on retaining walls.  When they ran out of toy soldiers they placed toy animals to watch over us.

It was clear the little toy soldiers were a metaphor for their feelings that day and the days that followed as the toy soldiers are still here, after everyone is gone, protecting Ridge Creek School.  These young men were feeling that they and their school had been attacked and needed protection.  

Over the next few days I heard students say that Ridge Creek was a family, they liked it here, it just started to get good for them and that they did not want to leave.  One student told me he knew he was Oppositional Defiant Disorderd because he did not want to come when he was sent here, and now that he was being forced to leave, he did not want to go.  Another student asked her father to let her spend the night one more time before leaving school.

Parents were, for the most part, incredibly understanding with the news and the scramble for getting their children home or to the next program.  I hear over and over how grateful they were that their child had the time here that they had, some claiming we had saved their child's life.  

The campus is now empty except for the staff that live here.  No more do I hear the shouts and laughter of the students as they return to their dorms in the evening.  The peace of the mountains surrounds the campus, unfortunately it will no longer bring peace and healing to the hearts and minds of troubled teenages.

Posted by Ridge Creek Therapeutic Boarding School at 5:50 PM

Revocation of licenses.  Current and former licensed staff that did not report egregious incidents such as beatings,attempted suicides, and the acceptance of inapproriate children will lose their licenses, and never be allowed to work at either a bonafide licensed PRTF, RTF, or in a therapeutic setting again, hopefully.  Anne Edens and Leonard Buccellato will no longer be allowed to practice psychology, hopefully. This was not a licensed PRTF, nor was it a licensed RTF.  Teachers should have reported the truth not only to Advanc-Ed (SACS), but the ORCC regarding Special Needs children and violations of ICPC. Counselors should have reported the truth about the documents and records, along with mandatory reporting of incidents which is a State and Federal violation, along with a violation of children's rights.  According to one official who summeds it up aptly, "there are no excuses."  

To those staff that have fled to Brandon Hall, private practice, or other facilities, in-state or out-of state - checkmate.

The child and children in question have a history of suicide attempts.  The chidlren should never have been placed at the facility.  Many of the children came from a Mental Health Facility and went back and forth for months.  Several children over the years have brain damage, either from the attmepted suicides by hanging, zip-ties, and the more recent from a severe beating while the child slept.  He suffered broken cheek bones, an air pocket behind his eye, and has been diagnosed with brain damage. It was not reported.

There are much, much more.  They were covered up.  The full report will be out as soon as possible.  It is quite hectic right now.

The Ridge Creek School / Hidden Lake Academy / THe Dahlonega Nugget
« on: July 20, 2011, 10:42:40 PM »

Ridge Creek Academy said to be closing doors
By Matt Aiken
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 10:50 AM EDT
The doors are apparently closing at Ridge Creek Academy, according to officials with the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office.

“We were told that they were shutting down this week and students would be out by the end of the week,” said Investigator Darren Martin.

The therapeutic boarding school, formerly known as Hidden Lake Academy, has been located at the end of Camp Wahsega Road for 17 years. At its height it was one of the top employers in Lumpkin County and had an enrollment of over 150 students from throughout the country. For many years tuition was around $5,000 per month.

However, enrollment began to drop drastically in 2006 when news broke of a class action lawsuit against the school by a group of dissatisfied parents. In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged everything from misappropriation of funds to the willful acceptance of violent students.

The matter was reportedly settled out of court.

Earlier this year, school employees reportedly complained that they were not consistently receiving their paychecks on time.

“I had one whole month that I wasn't paid,” said Wallace Seabolt, who worked as a science teacher for five months.

Seabolt said enrollment dropped to 22 students at one time during his tenure and he often struggled to teach his class with limited supplies.

“We were understaffed,” he said. “We didn't have the school materials that we needed to do the job.”

Seabolt said he was laid-off with a large group of employees in mid-May.

Martin said that the sheriff's office was contacted this week by an employee of Ridge Creek requesting increased patrolling during the closure.

Owner Len Buccellato did not return a call seeking comment.

Copyright © 2011 - The Dahlonega Nugget

Well, Mr. Jay Wansley Assistant Director of Advanc-Ed (SACS) and Director Mike Bryans - Wallace Seabolt Science Teacher, along with Foy Tootle History teacher were gone.  There was no Special Education teacher,there was one on hold for June, but Buccellato held off until enrollment picked up.  So the Special Needs children were without a Special Ed. program. There was no Director of Education as required.  Yet, the Accreditation team in February gave RCS "ACCOLADES"...According Mr. Seabolt, there were no supplies.  Your team did really well.  Mr. Wansley and Mr. Bryans should submit their resignation.  They were informed months back and did nothing.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 18