The bill H. R. 3126: 'Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011' was proposed on October 6, 2011 to require certain standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and neglect in residential programs.
What residential programs fall under this bill?
This bill would cover private and public programs such as a program with a wilderness or outdoor experience, expedition, or intervention; a boot camp experience or other experience designed to simulate characteristics of basic military training or correctional regimes; a therapeutic boarding school; or a behavioral modification program. These programs serve children with emotional, behavioral, or mental health problems and disorders, as well as children who have problems with alcohol or substance abuse.
This bill does not cover family foster homes or hospitals.
How would this bill ensure that these programs are meeting basic health and safety needs of children?
- Prohibiting child abuse and neglect;
- Prohibiting discipline techniques that withhold basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and medical care;
- Prohibiting the use of mechanical restraints and seclusion;
- Prohibiting the use of physical or mental abuse that might humiliate a child;
- Enacting basic rights to a child such as use of a phone;
- Requiring staff education on child abuse, neglect, and mandated reporting; training staff on roles and responsibilities; and requiring staff to complete a background study.
Programs will be required to be on an online database with program information, including current license status and violations. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has a similar database.
The Department of Human Services would be required to designate an authority to complete annual evaluations and complete unannounced visits. The bill proposes that reports of child abuse and neglect would be investigated promptly.
What changes do you think Minnesota will have to make to ensure the safety of children in residential programs? How do you think Minnesota ranks compared to other states?