States lacking in behavioral facility oversight, federal report finds

Many states do not have proper oversight of foster youths placed in residential behavioral health facilities, a report from HHS' Office of Inspector General found. 

The report, published June 26, surveyed child welfare agencies in every state and Washington, D.C. Around one-third of states could not identify patterns of maltreatment in residential facilities. 

The OIG also found gaps in states' data. Eight states were unable to identify whether multiple incidents of maltreatment had occurred in a residential facility, and 14 states could not provide data on incidents of maltreatment across chains of facilities. 

Thirty-two states said they did not formally monitor whether residential facilitiy owners in their state operated facilities in other states, and did not monitor whether these out-of-state facilities had incidents of maltreatment. 

States also reported challenges monitoring children placed in out-of-state facilities. 

Residential behavioral health facilities for children and adolescents have been under scrutiny from the federal government. A report by the Senate Finance Committee found children are frequently harmed in residential treatment facilities. The committee alleged that sexual abuse, improper uses of seclusion and restraint and unsafe and unsanitary conditions persist in residential treatment facilities. 

The OIG recommended that HHS' Administration for Children and Families: 

  1. Provide technical assistance to states to build data collection and monitoring capabilities for identifying maltreatment in residential facilities. 
  2. Help states improve monitoring of patterns of maltreatment across chains and facilities. 
  3. Improve communication when children are placed in out-of-state facilities. 
  4. Improve placement data in the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. 

Read the full report here.

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