We call on our US Senators to draft legislation that will protect teens from abuse in residential programs.
Now that H.R. 911 – Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009 has passed the US house, we need similar legislation to be passed by the US Senate.
Investigations conducted by the Government Accountability Office during the 110th Congress uncovered thousands of cases and allegations of child abuse and neglect since the early 1990’s at teen residential programs. Currently, these programs are governed only by a weak patchwork of state and federal standards. A separate GAO report, also conducted last year at the committee’s request, found major gaps in the licensing and oversight of residential programs – some of which are not covered by any state licensing standards at all.
GAO concluded that without adequate oversight “the well-being and civil rights of youth in some facilities will remain at risk.”
State reported data to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System in 2005 found that 34 states reported 1503 incidents of youth maltreatment by residential facility staff. Of the states surveyed by GAO, 28 reported at least one youth fatality in a residential facility in 2006. GAO concluded both of these statistics understate the incidents of maltreatment and death.
We need a bill in the US Senate that will like H.R. 911 would establish minimum standards for preventing child abuse and neglect at teen residential programs. It would require states to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of reports of abuse and neglect at covered programs, require investigations of such programs and require the HHS to issue civil penalties against programs that violate the new standards. The bill also calls for states, within three years, to take on the role of setting and enforcing standards for both private and public youth residential programs.
Please support ask your US Senator to support the excellent legislative work done by the US House under the leadership of Congressman George Miller.
For additional information about the H.R. 911 please see these links:
Feb 23, 2009: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by roll call vote. The vote was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the bill, needing a two-thirds majority. This usually occurs for non-controversial legislation. The totals were 295 Ayes, 102 Nays, 35 Present/Not Voting. Vote Details.