ALABAMA PASS & MAKE LAW HB 440, THE "YOUTH RESIDENTIAL FACILITY ABUSE PREVENTION ACT"
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CO-SPONSOR, SUPPORT, AND ENACT HB 440, THE "ALABAMA YOUTH RESIDENTIAL FACILITY ABUSE PREVENTION ACT" INTRODUCED BY STATE REP. STEVE MCMILLAN (R-AL) (Link to legislation text: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2017RS/PrintFiles/HB440-int.pdf
If enacted, the Alabama Youth Residential Facility Abuse Prevention Act will:
1. Require registration and regulation of religious and faith-based residential youth programs in Alabama.
2. Require criminal background checks on all staff, employees, and volunteers of any residential youth programs in Alabama.
3. Require truth in advertising and complete and accurate descriptions of program methods and practices.
4. Require that those providing mental health and behavioral health treatment services be properly licensed and certified professionals in those fields.
5. Require all disciplinary methods and practices of the facility be disclosed to parents and legal guardians.
6. Prohibits the use of abusive, humiliating, degrading, isolating, and ostracizing practices.
7. Requires proper and nutritious food be provided residents three times a day.
8. Prohibits the use of isolation (secure containment), manual, and mechanical restraints.
9. Requires enrolled youth be permitted to practice the religion of their choice regardless of the program's religious affiliations and preferences.
10. Requires that residents be provided proper medical care in the event medical care is needed.
11. Requires reporting all fatalities and incidents requiring hospitalization or medical care be reported to the licensing agency within 24 hours of its occurrence.
12. Establishes rights of residents enrolled in such programs which include freedom to leave the facility or request to be removed from the facility and the right to be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse or corporal punishment. In addition, it provides for the rights of enrolled residents to be free from corporal punishment, excessive medication, physical restraints of any kind, and deprivation of basic necessities.
13. Empowers law enforcement with the right to enter the property to investigate suspected abuse and press charges.
14. Prohibits "conversion therapy" on minors.
15. Protects religious freedom and liberty.
We would like to suggest that the following provisions or changes be included in this legislation or introduced separately, if needed:
1. Youth in any out of home placement, whether run by religious/faith-based organizations or not, should be afforded the same rights and protections as provided for in HB 440.
2. Youth should be provided an alternative means of leaving any residential facility in the event parents refuse to obey the provision to remove a youth that wishes to leave the facility where there is no court order indicating otherwise.
3. Contracts for services should not include transfer of legal guardianship nor waivers that permit a facility to prevent contact between enrolled youth and law enforcement or other protection services in the event parents have orphaned their youth to the facility.
4. The Alabama State Department of Education must establish accreditation, licensing, and approval requirements for private schools, both religious and secular, operating in the state to make sure requirements to meet state standards in HB 440 and similar legislation have meaning and are not illusory on their face.
We the undersigned call on the Alabama legislature and Governor Robert Bentley to approve this legislation and make it law.
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