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U.S. Senators seek answers about mistreatment of children in facilities; cite reporting by 10 Investigates

Senators Ron Wyden and Patty Murray drafted letters this summer to four major companies that operate residential treatment facilities across the country.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two U.S. Senators have raised concerns about the mistreatment of children in residential treatment facilities.

Senators Ron Wyden, D–Oregon, and Patty Murray, D–Washington, drafted letters this summer to four major companies that operate residential treatment facilities across the country – including some where Ohio children are sent.

Their letters read in part: “While there is a role for (residential treatment facilities) in the continuum of treatment, we are concerned by numerous stories of exploitation, mistreatment and maltreatment, abuse and neglect, and fatalities in these facilities…”

Their letters referenced “a series of reports” including the previous reporting of 10 Investigates, which was included in the reference materials the senators attached in their letters to the companies.

10 Investigates has spent years reporting on problems that have occurred in these facilities in Ohio. Our reporting led to increased inspections by state and county agencies; one facility here in Columbus closed in wake of recurring problems with abuse and neglect.

The National Disability Rights Network, referenced in the senators’ letters, cited 10 Investigates’ reporting in its October 2021 report. NDRN is the parent organization of various state affiliates – like Disability Rights Ohio – which are tasked with investigating the treatment of children in these facilities.

Many of the children who attend these facilities are in need of psychiatric or behavioral treatment and are connected to the foster care system or recommended to go from juvenile court. But critics allege the facilities lack adequate staffing or supervision and that those who attend may cause abuse or endure abuse while there.

The NDRN’s October 2021 noted: “the abuse and neglect some children endure at for-profit (residential facilities) may worsen their existing mental and behavioral health issues, and in some cases may even lead to new issues, as children and youth leave the facilities more traumatized than when they first arrived.”

It continued: “(the) insidious practice of sending away some children and youth with disabilities for ‘treatment’ at for-profit residential facilities. It’s a practice that harkens back to the institutions in the dark parts of our history. The suffocation death of 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick at a privately operated facility in April of 2020 is just one of many examples,” wrote Curtis Decker, the executive director of the National Disability Rights Network.

10 Investigates: Recent Coverage ⬇️

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