We want to keep our kids safe and do everything we can to protect them. We want to make sure they have access to education and health care, so they can learn, succeed and thrive.
You would agree that this is essential for every single child. Right?
Yet, about 700 of North Carolina’s most vulnerable children, children with significant trauma histories, mental health disabilities, intellectual and developmental disabilities, are locked away in facilities for months, sometimes years. These are young people in need of care who end up in facilities because they cannot get that support in their communities. The state doesn’t require it.
A system ripe for abuse and neglect
In many of these facilities, kids do not receive the treatment they desperately need. Instead, they are abused and neglected. Trauma upon trauma that ruins their chances for a better future. Moreover, these allegations of abuse are well-documented and reported. Many of these kids are in foster care.
The state and its provider agencies have been aware of these problems for a long time, and are still not doing enough to keep our kids safe.
Additionally, North Carolina sends hundreds of these children to out-of-state facilities and then forgets about them. No one is checking up on them. There is no accountability or oversight. The state cannot even tell us where they are. Around 280 disabled children have all but disappeared. Yet the state is paying for their “care.”
Most of these facilities are run by for-profit companies. These businesses turn huge profits for their shareholders, getting paid more per child than facilities providing skilled-level nursing care. Some of the staff in these facilities have criminal and violent backgrounds.
Working for brighter future
DRNC launched the new initiative – Bring NC Kids Home – to shine a light on these disturbing practices. We need to protect these kids and support them in their home communities. Shipping kids off to profit-making facilities where their individual needs are not identified or met is no answer. It is very expensive, and it is not working. We cannot ignore their plight. We cannot continue to look the other way.
For the last few months we have given you a front row seat to the realities of these facilities, called Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs). We also highlighted the work of Joonu Coste and Kishona Mimms (Senior Investigator), and shared stories about the children in these facilities, how PRTFs operate, how they are funded, the limitations to their regulation and why that means that abuse and neglect persist.