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Residential Facilities: Improved Data and Enhanced Oversight Would Help Safeguard the Well-Being of Youth with Behavioral and Emotional Challenges

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2008
95 pages
This report provides national information on the nature of the incidents that adversely affect the well-being of youth in government and private residential facilities; how State licensing and monitoring requirements address the well-being of youth in residential facilities; and what factors affect Federal agencies' ability to hold States accountable for the well-being of youth in residential facilities.
This report concludes that weaknesses in the current Federal-State regulatory structure have failed to safeguard the civil rights and well-being of some of the Nation's most vulnerable youth. The report discusses the implications of some options for action that States, Federal agencies, and Congress may consider in any restructuring effort. In addition, there are gaps in reported data that have persisted over a decade since the reporting requirement has been in place. Recommendations are offered for action that Federal agencies can take under the existing regulatory structure, including the proposal that the Secretary of Health and Human Services explore options to address State barriers to reporting maltreatment data for residential facilities. Also, the Attorney General should work with other Federal agencies to access information that could help target civil rights investigations. In addition, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Education should cooperate in enhancing their oversight of State accountability for the well-being of youth in residential facilities. For the purposes of this study, "residential facilities" are defined as those that require youth (ages 12 through 17) to reside at the facility and that provide program services for youth with behavioral and emotional challenges. The study surveyed State child welfare, health and mental health, and juvenile justice directors in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, in order to determine how States oversee child well-being in residential facilities. 22 tables and appended supplementary data and information