Nevada Child Welfare Agencies Investigates Over Quality of Care
By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, January 19, 2023 9:53 pm
NEVADA – A report released this month says that a year-long audit at childcare centers in Nevada in 2022 found that five of them had a pattern of loose supervision and weak policies.
The review comes just three months after an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department found that Nevada was failing its children with behavioral problems by putting them in institutions too often.
Auditors from the state legislature found “significant issues” that included dirty living conditions, children giving themselves antipsychotic drugs, and chemicals and tools that weren’t kept safe. In one case, a hatchet was left on a table at a foster care home, according to their report. In another, it said, people were sleeping in a storage room that had a lock on the outside.
Inspectors said that between January and November of last year, they found piles of dirty clothes and trash in the children’s rooms, as well as clogged toilets, exposed pipes, and a pillow with blood on it. They also said that they went through the facilities’ inventory and files and found missing medication, medical files, and paperwork about staff training and background checks.
State Democratic Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop said last week at a meeting where auditors and state lawmakers talked about the findings, “If I were a parent, I would be furious.” “I don’t think you should have to complain for things to be okay. They should be good enough. I hope that from now on, we’ll take care of these kids who are weak.”
In an October 25-page report, the Justice Department said that the state was not doing enough to “ensure access to community-based services that could prevent institutionalization.” As a result, people were often hospitalized more than once. The DOJ report said that children were often sent to long-term residential facilities outside of the state. This “exacerbated the harms” of the separation.
This assessment was backed up by a recent state review, which said that as of June 2022, more than 100 kids were living in 14 different facilities in six states. For their report, state legislative auditors went to 19 of the 57 child care centers that the state regulates and licenses.
A youth addiction treatment center in Las Vegas, a foster care program in Reno, and the Never Give Up Youth Healing Center, a troubled residential psychiatric facility in rural Nevada that got low marks from the state for health and safety during a similar review in 2020, were among the five institutions that raised alarms.
In Nye County, Never Give Up is on the old campus of the now-closed Northwest Academy. Northwest Academy was the only private boarding school in the state before it closed on Valentine’s Day 2019 after the married owners were arrested on a total of 90 counts of child abuse and neglect.
The report shows that Never Give Up was the only one of the five places inspected by the state last year that got a fine.
The Associated Press got a copy of the penalty and found that the state Department of Health and Human Services gave a $8,000 fine early in September. The penalty was given because of a number of failures. A spokesman for the department said that Never Give Up paid the fine before the end of the year.
Health and Human Services said in a separate 65-page report that Never Give Up had not taken care of its building to “ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.” In the report, things like sagging ceilings, exposed electrical wiring, broken deadbolts, missing emergency lights, loose smoke detectors, and a cable hanging from a ceiling were listed as problems.
Never Give Up had to send in a corrective plan, which Health and Human Services said in its letter of punishment was “acceptable.”
Since Never Give Up took over the campus in Amargosa Valley, which is about 90 miles (144 kilometers) outside of Las Vegas, there has been a riot at the psychiatric facility, police are looking into claims of sexual and physical abuse, and a man was arrested on charges that he raped a patient and sexually exploited two others while working at Never Give Up.
The Associated Press sent an email to Never Give Up asking for a response to the conditions described in the state’s latest report. However, Never Give Up did not answer.
As part of their review, state auditors also looked at eight places where young people are locked up. According to the report, two of them did not check children and teens “for sexual victimization or abuse” within 72 hours of their arrival, which is what the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 requires. The auditors told both facilities to get the right risk assessment tools, which are not named in the report.
Legislative auditors did a separate inspection of Nevada’s adult prison system last year. They found a lot of problems with how the system used force, including that the number of incidents was often underreported. When the report came out, officials from the state Department of Corrections admitted that none of the 16 suggestions made by the audit to improve how the facility works had been done.
Credits: 8 News Now
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