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Presented at the 21st Annual Research Conference

Unregulated Residential Services: The Challenge to Ensure Quality Services and Protections--Part I

Download Handouts: 21kb pdf

Session Number: 4 Room: Salon D

Presentation Type: symposium

Chair: Lenore Behar Discussant: Robert Friedman

Synopsis: In the past decade, disturbing information has emerged, through investigative reporting and by youth and families, of abusive treatment in unregulated or unmonitored residential facilities. Such abuses include harsh discipline, inappropriate seclusion and restraint, medical and nutritional neglect, poor quality treatment and educational services, and rights violations. In 2004, a group of professionals was formed to address these concerns. This group, the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (A START) has advocated for quality services and safety of children in such programs, while helping families to make informed choices when seeking services for their children. Efforts by A START and other organizations led to a study by the Government Accountability Office and an investigative hearing by the Committee on Education and Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The GAO findings are shocking. The investigative hearing has highlighted how parents are persuaded to use unregulated or unmonitored services and has raised questions about what oversight is provided. The symposium is divided into two sessions. During the first session, topics covered included: 1) Risks to Children and Pressure on Parents and 2) Beginning Steps to Stimulate Policy Changes. The second session covers The Challenges of Changing Public Policy. The overall focus of the two parts of the symposium is on how policy makers, parents, advocates, service providers and researchers can come together to provide improved ways to access services, determine quality services and good outcomes and ensure protections to youth in need.


Session Time: 10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Risks to Children and Pressures on Parents

We're sorry, handouts are not available for this presentation.

Presenting: Christina Young; Cynthia Clark Harvey; Paul Lewis

All Authors for this paper: Christina Young; Cynthia Clark Harvey; Paul Lewis

Presentation Type: element of symposium

Synopsis: Although there is a growing belief that non-residential, community based, quality services provide well for most youth, there are parents and youth who do not or can not access non-residential programs and who struggle to find help. This panel focuses on parents who seek treatment, primarily private treatment, with the expectation that these programs will provide needed help. The presentations address how parents identified what they believed to be excellent treatment programs, how they tried to verify the quality of the programs, and their communication with these programs about their child’s needs, treatment plans, and progress. They will discuss the disastrous outcomes in these programs, resulting in the deaths of their children. The question raised in the discussions by the panel members is how parents can know the differences between the programs that are credible and those that are not. The underlying question is how public policy can allow for programs that have little or no oversight and little or no accountability to the parents, to other professionals, or to an accrediting body.

Presentation Time: 11:15 AM -

Steps to Stimulate Policy Changes: Gathering Data

We're sorry, handouts are not available for this presentation.

Presenting: Kay Brown; Allison Pinto

All Authors for this paper: Kay Brown; Allison Pinto

Presentation Type: element of symposium

Synopsis: In the absence of valid findings about what program elements are important for the wellbeing of youth, for their health and safety, and for quality treatment, it may be difficult to change the laws and policies in the states. Thus, building a research agenda is a challenging task, but one of paramount importance. The panelists will discuss the beginning steps of gathering data and the broader needs for sound research into this area. At the request of Congressman George Miller, Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, the Government Accountability Office undertook studies of residential programs. “Given concerns about allegations, particularly in reference to private programs, the Committee asked GAO to (1) verify whether allegations of abuse and death at residential treatment programs are widespread and (2) examine the facts and circumstances surrounding selected closed cases where a teenager died while enrolled in a private program.” They began to study the issues, first using a case study method. They have also undertaken a study of broader scope and the report of this broader study is being prepared for publication. The panelists will outline the additional approaches that are needed to influence policy changes and provide a challenge for the future, suggesting potential areas for research.

Presentation Time: 11:15 AM -