For Immediate Release
Contact: Erin Baker, Communications Director
202.966.7300, Ext. 119
Adam Lowe, Communications Coordinator
202.966.7300, Ext. 154
Washington, D.C., April 28, 2009 - The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is proud to honor Congressman George Miller, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, for championing the rights of children and adolescents placed in residential treatment centers and foster care settings, nationwide.
“Children and adolescents in residential treatment and foster care settings are among our most vulnerable youth,” said AACAP President Robert L. Hendren, D.O. “I applaud Rep. Miller for working to ensure that these young people have access to appropriate treatment for mental illnesses.”
Rep. Miller has introduced the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act. The Act establishes minimum health and safety standards for preventing child abuse and neglect at teen residential programs. The bill requires states to set and enforce standards for both private and public youth residential programs.
“For far too long, the nightmarish abuse and neglect of some of our most vulnerable teens has gone unchecked,” said Chairman Miller. “This legislation is critical in ensuring that children are safe and protected, no matter what setting they’re in. I am honored to receive this award from AACAP, which has an outstanding record of improving mental health care for children and teens and has been an important partner in our efforts.”
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Residential Treatment Programs: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth,” which reviewed data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems (NCANDS), 33 states reported 1,619 staff involved in incidents of abuse in residential treatment programs in 2005 alone.1
The AACAP maintains that the best place for children and adolescents is at home with their families with appropriate support when necessary. The AACAP does not endorse boot camp or wilderness programs and encourages all health insurance plans to allow for a continuum of levels of care for children and adolescents.
A child or adolescent with mental illness should be treated in the safest and least restrictive environment and services should be “wrapped-around,” to provide more intensive home or community-based services. When the treating clinician has considered less restrictive resources and determined that they are either unavailable or not appropriate for the patient’s needs, a child or adolescent may need to receive treatment in a psychiatric residential treatment center (RTC). The RTC must be approved by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and meet the criteria for inpatient hospital-based psychiatric treatment programs for children and adolescents
The AACAP will honor Rep. Miller at its annual Advocacy Day reception on May 7. On Friday, May 8, more than 190 child and adolescent psychiatrists, along with parents of children with mental illnesses, will educate lawmakers about the critical need to increase access to mental health services and providers.
The AACAP is the leading national medical association of child and adolescent psychiatrists dedicated to treating and improving the quality of life of the estimated 7-12 million American youth under 18 who are affected by emotional, behavioral, developmental and mental disorders.
1. Alliance For the Safe, Therapeutic, and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment (ASTART). (2007). Child Neglect and Abuse in Private Residential Facilities:
A Summary of a Congressional Hearing. [Available online at http://www.bazelon.org/pdf/RTChearing10-9-07.pdf]