A recent Bay Area investigation into some of California’s group homes found disturbing evidence of 815 violations over the course of just the last five years. These aren’t minor violations either. This staggering amount of violations reflects those that posed an “immediate risk” to children and teens, including the physical and sexual abuse of children and at risk youth.
California legislators and social care workers announced last fall that they recognized the issue of group homes and their negative impact on at risk youth. The state is currently in the process of implementing a new multi-year plan designed to replace the private-run and failing group homes with new ‘short-term residential treatment centers’ designed to keep children and other at risk youth for stays lasting no more than six months. This impetus comes at the bequest of a new law that was put into action in 2016.
Unfortunately, while the plan is a step in the right direction, the distressing amount of violations makes this ‘multi-year’ plan a less than ideal option for the many at risk youth currently suffering in California’s dysfunctional group homes, and for much longer than the ‘less than six months’ desired by legislatures. Of the 5,800 children and teenagers currently living in larger group homes, over a 1,000 of them have lived in such an environment of over five years, years that are considered by most every research study the most formative in one’s life.
During the investigation of the Bay Area group homes, reports were found of allegations against employees physically abusing children, using drugs with and around children, using behavior modification drugs as punishment, and much more, including multiple accounts of their being a lack of food and proper nutrients available for the at risk youth in the facilities. These are serious allegations against privately-run group homes. Discerning citizens might expect a revocation of a license and shuttering following such reports, yet all of the group homes where these violations occurred are open and inhabitated by risk youth.
When asked what is being done to keep at risk youth in group homes safe, Michael Weston, spokesperson for the Department of Social Services, said they have a “process that we go through“. When pushed on shutting the doors to troubled locations, Weston responded, “The administrative process does not give the authority to the department to close the facility without doing a lot of legal work.”
If you have been injured or abused and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Torrance or Los Angeles, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.