Senate Investigation Slams Residential Treatment Centers for Children as ‘Warehouses of Neglect’

At The Imprint, Michael Fitzgerald and Sara Tiano report on the results of a congressional investigation exposing both the “routine harm” found in facilities and the profit-minded system that makes money off of vulnerable children: 

“Good for business, bad for kids. That’s the conclusion of a sweeping two-year U.S. Senate investigation released today. 

The 136-page report, Warehouses of Neglect: How Taxpayers Are Funding Systemic Abuse in Youth Residential Treatment Facilities, highlights abusive conditions in what members of Congress describe as a profit-hungry industry providing care for the nation’s neediest children, including foster youth, kids in the justice system and emotionally troubled teens of all socio-economic backgrounds.

The concerns about group facilities cited in the report are well known in the fields of child welfare and behavioral health: ‘physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of staff and peers, improperly executed and overused restraint and seclusion, inadequate treatment and supervision, and non-homelike environment.’. . . 

In those locations, they encountered children keeping their clothes in brown paper bags, bare mattresses, windows covered in spray paint and the smells of human waste and gas. Education also often appeared inadequate, with teachers relying on movies or pages from for course materials. Some kids they met were so heavily dosed on psychotropic drugs they appeared to move in a daze and struggled to hold conversations. A nurse at one site told investigators most kids took five to eight medications. . . . 

Kayla Muzquiz of Texas — a former-foster-youth-turned-advocate who grew up in group facilities across three states after her mother died and her father abused her — joined Wyden at the press conference. She said she ‘felt like a lab rat’ in the residential centers, overmedicated and ‘forced to participate in pseudo-scientific therapies.’ That included a sedating injection that other residents called ‘booty juice.’

‘This is normal in those facilities,’ Muzquiz said. ‘The medical neglect in foster care is real. I almost died.’ . . . 

A 19-year-old with autism at a Universal Health Services facility in Georgia died when he ‘choked on his own vomit’ during an eight-minute, face-down restraint during which ‘staff sat on the teen’s midsection.’ At a Virginia facility run by the same company, a child “died of positional asphyxiation” during a restraint, even though the hold was being monitored by a nurse. . . . 

As much of the industry expands, one of the child welfare experts cited in the Senate’s report agreed with its conclusions: There is a dearth of evidence suggesting that residential treatment is beneficial for any child.”

Article →***

More from Around the Web

More from Mad in the Family