Meeting to Address Abuse of Youth in Residential Placements
“If you walked in part way through my presentation, you might have assumed that I was talking about human rights violations in a third world country. Unfortunately, these human rights violations occurred right here in the United States of America.” So testified Greg Kutz, Managing Director of Forensic and Special Investigations for the Government Accountability Office, in testimony presented in October, 2007, at a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor on youth who have died in residential placements that presented themselves to parents as being therapeutic
The growth of the troubled teen industry, including wilderness camps, therapeutic boarding schools, and boot camps, has given rise to allegations of inhumane treatment of youth, and exploitation of families who are desperately seeking help for their teenagers. This topic, previously the subject of two hearings in Congress and two special reports by the GAO, will be examined further on Feb. 19th at a meeting on “Abuse of Youth in Residential Placements: A Call to Action.”
The meeting is sponsored by the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (A START), an organization working to protect youth from abuse in residential programs, and ensure that families have access to safe, effective community-based care. The group includes mental health and legal professionals, young adults who have been in programs, parents who have sent their children to programs, advocates, and former staff of such programs. A START seeks to protect the safety and well-being of youth through educating professionals and parents about the problem, and supporting policy that will protect the rights of youth and their families. The meeting is co-sponsored by the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY), a youth-driven, grassroots organization dedicated to the protection of the human rights of youth placed in residential programs.
The meeting will include presentations by three young adults who have been in residential placements, and three parents who turned to such placements for help only to lose their children due to totally avoidable deaths at the facilitites. Mr. Kutz of the GAO will describe the results of their national studies, and other presentations will be made by individuals from the legal, mental health, journalistic, and advocacy communities. Presentations will not only describe the problem but provide recommendations for action.
A START Coordinator
Abuse of Youth in Residential Placement: A Call to Action
February 19, 2009
Cannon House Office Building
1. 9:00 – 9:25 – Welcome and Opening Presentation of the Issue
2. 9:25 – 10:20 – Description of the Problem from a Personal Standpoint: the Voice of Young Adults and Parents
Moderator: Lenore Behar, Ph.D.
Kathryn Whitehead CAFETY Executive Director, Mission Mountain School Survivor
Christopher Noroski CAFETY Member, Family Foundation School Survivor
Nick Gaglia Over the GW Director, CAFETY Member, Kid of North Jersey Survivor
Crystal Manganaro Parent whose son died at Lone Expeditions
3. 10:35 – 10:50 – Findings from an Independent Study: The GAO Report
Greg Kutz, Managing Director
Forensic Audits and Special Investigations,
Government Accountability Office
4. 10:50 – 11:45 – Additional Perspectives on the Issue
Moderator: Phil Elberg, JD
Federal and State Actions – Cynthia Clark-Harvey
Legal Perspectives – Phil Elberg, Esq
Grass Roots Actions – Brian Lombrowski
Organizational Actions – Barbara Huff
Journalistic Perspective – Maia Szalavitz
5. 11:45 – Noon – Discussion, questions, and closing
Sponsored by the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (ASTART)
Co-Sponsored by the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY)
Brief Biographical Sketches of Participants
Behar, Lenore, Ph.D., -- Dr. Behar is a psychologist who served as Director of Children’s Mental Health for the State of North Carolina from 1968-2002, and has been involved in many national leadership activities.
Gaglia, Nick – Mr. Gaglia is a former participant in a residential program, and is now a professional filmaker and the producer of a movie on his experiences, entitled “Over the GW.”
Huff, Barbara – Ms. Huff is the mother of a daughter who grew up with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse challenges, and is the former Executive Director of the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health.
Kutz, Greg – Mr. Kutz is the Managing Director for Forensic Audits and Special Investigations of the Government Accountability Office.
Lewis, Paul – Mr. Lewis, from East Longmeadow, Massachussetts, is the father of a young man who died in a residential placement, and a member of A START.
Lombrowski, Brian – Mr. Lombrowski was a recipient of mental health services as a youth, is President of the Board of Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY), and a member of A START.
Manganaro, Crystal – Ms. Manganaro, of Houston, Texas, is the mother of a son who died in a residential placement.
Noroski, Christopher – Mr. Noroski, a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a former participant in a residential program, and a member of CAFETY.
Szalavitz, Maia – Ms. Szalavitz is a journalist who has done extensive research on the troubled teen industry and is the author of a book on the industry, called “Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids.”
Whitehead, Kathryn – Ms. Whitehead is a former participant in a residential program, the Executive Director of CAFETY, and a member of A START.