Regulation of Private Residential Treatment Programs for Youth

Regulation of Private Residential Treatment Programs for Youth February 2007

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, territorial, and tribal legislatures to enact laws that require the licensing, regulating, and monitoring of residential treatment facilities that are not funded by public or government systems, but are privately-operated overnight facilities that offer treatment to at-risk children and youth under age 18 for emotional, behavioral, educational, substance abuse, and social issues and problems, including strenuous athletic, mental health, and tough love programs.
This legislation should:
1. Require licensure of, or otherwise regulate, private residential treatment facilities by defining clearly which programs must comply with the statute and impose minimum legal requirements to operate and maintain them, including standards regarding staff qualifications and residents’ physical and emotional safety, educational, mental health, and other treatment needs.
2. Require government monitoring and enforcement of the operational standards outlined in the statute.
3. Promote the preferred use of appropriate in-home and community-based prevention and intervention programs for at-risk children and youth by requiring enhanced governmental support that provides families with better access to these programs.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the Congress to enact legislation that would assure the safety of American children and youth placed in U.S-owned, but foreign-based unregulated private residential treatment facilities by requiring U.S. federal agencies to work with foreign governments to monitor such facilities regularly.

These represent only those ABA Policy Resolutions in which the Commission on Youth at Risk was the principal sponsor.

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