Congregate Care Facilities For Children

Breaking The Code of Silence of Fostered and Orphaned children

An estimated 120,000 to 200,000 minors are placed in congregate care facilities across the United States annually, according to information from Breaking Code Silence, an advocacy group made up of people who were placed in treatment facilities.

Oregon foster child mistreated while out of state joins federal lawmakers in oversight push

The first time Uvea Spezza-Lopin traveled on a plane, she was 9 and in the custody of the Oregon foster care system. State child welfare officials sent her to a psychiatric residential treatment facility in Montana. There, she was regularly sedated, restrained and locked in a seclusion room.

This week, Spezza-Lopin, now 12, took another flight. This time she headed to Washington, D.C., to speak alongside U.S. lawmakers to support an effort to federally regulate what’s often called the “troubled teen” industry.

Between 2016 and 2018, the number of foster children Oregon leaders sent to residential treatment facilities in other states skyrocketed. Children were scattered across 16 different states at one point. At the time, state workers said they didn’t have enough foster placements in Oregon.

Two people with blond hair stand side by side.
Uvea Spezza-Lopin, right, joins Paris Hilton in calling for more oversight into treatment facilities that house vulnerable kids. Sara Gelser Blouin

The senator noted Oregon had stopped placing children in such facilities, in large part due to the work of Oregon state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis. Gelser Blouin grilled Oregon state child welfare officials after OPB broke the news in 2019 that the state was shipping children out of state.

“Let’s stop the system of shipping children out of state to facilities that have no oversight,” Merkley said Wednesday.

Merkley and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, are pushing to create a commission in the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee congregate care. The legislation would also give grants to states to help regulate the facilities. Finally, it would create a bill of rights to ensure kids placed in care don’t lose their rights.

An estimated 120,000 to 200,000 minors are placed in congregate care facilities across the United States annually, according to information from Breaking Code Silence, an advocacy group made up of people who were placed in treatment facilities.

“Many children leave these facilities more traumatized than when they arrived,” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said at the press conference.

This week, Spezza-Lopin shared her story of being in foster care off and on since she was a baby, of being placed in 15 different placements, homes and institutions, of being thrown onto a concrete floor, put in a headlock and called a pervert by adult caretakers while in Montana.

The girl from Junction City, Oregon, spent her day in Washington, D.C. with an unlikely friend, Paris Hilton. The celebrity and entrepreneur was abused while at Utah’s Provo Canyon School in the 1990s and has joined the effort to bring more oversight to the industry.

Hilton noted the state-by-state patchwork of regulations under which these facilities currently operate is not working and detailed the abuse she suffered as a teen.

Spezza-Lopin spent her time in Washington lobbying with Hilton. She met well-known politicians and appeared on Good Morning America. She ate at her first restaurant that used cloth napkins.

But as she stood in front of the U.S. Capitol, with photographers snapping photos and microphones in her face, she was thinking of her best friend at the facility in Montana, another young girl with whom she has no way of contacting.

Ella, if you’re out there,” she said. “I’m doing this for us

Today, there are an estimated 120,000 – 200,000 minors in congregate care facilities across the United States. These youth are pipelined into congregate care placements through the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, school districts’ individualized education programs, refugee resettlement agencies, mental health providers, and private parental placement. Many of these youth have prior trauma histories before placement, issues only exacerbated by extended separation from their communities once placed in an institutional setting.

This industry receives an estimated $23 billion dollars of annual public funds to purportedly treat the behavioral and psychological needs of vulnerable youth, yet it operates without meaningful oversight. The
industry’s lack of transparency and quality care has led to youth experiencing maltreatment including sexual assault, physical and medical neglect, and bodily assault that has resulted in civil rights violations, hospitalizations, and death. Youth are too often denied access to legal counsel, advocacy, and the most basic rights to personal safety and satisfactory living conditions.

States and facilities have long neglected to track the placement and lengths of stay of youth, ensure quality care, report critical incidents and deaths, develop best practices, and account for outcomes of
care. Without data, or means to track and address findings of institutional abuse, our nation’s understanding of this issue is severely limited. We must begin by developing systems and infrastructure
that will prevent catastrophic abuse and increase our understanding of evidence-based practices for youth in these settings.


BECAUSE THE LICENSURE OF THESE TREATMENT OR BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION FACILITIES VARIES WIDELY……………………………. WE NEEDED A BROADER DEFINITION.

WHAT DEFINES CONGREGATE CARE?
Breaking Code Silence defines the term Congregate Care Program or Facility (CCP/CF) as a public or private entity that, with respect to one or more children who are unrelated to the owner or operator of the program, purports to provide housing, treatment, or modify behaviors in a residential environment, such as:

  • Wilderness or outdoor experience, expedition, or Intervention
  • Boot camp or other experience designed to simulate characteristics of basic military training or correctional regimes
  • Residential treatment program, center, or facility
  • Non-medical residential center
  • Therapeutic boardinq school
  • Behavioral modification program
  • Foster care facility
  • Youth justice facility
  • *The term “CP/CCF” does not include a psychiatric hospital

“TREATMENT SHOULDN’T LEAVE A COMMUNITY OF SURVIVORS”

WHAT WE RE SEEING”

Investigations conducted by Breaking Code Silence and state officials have collectively shown trends in congregate care facilities.
Here are a few of the many abuses seen consistently across congregate settings:

  • Inhumane and degrading discipline
  • Usage of seclusion and physical, mechanical, and chemical restraint
  • Physical, medical, and nutritional neglect
  • Sexual assault, harassment, and grooming
  • Forced medication and overmedication
  • Conversion and aversion therapy
  • Lack of individualized treatment
  • Prohibition of communication with parents, lawyers, and advocates
  • Restricted access to education

In the 2021 study, “Away From Home: Youth Experiences of Institutional Placements in Foster Care” by the organization, Think of Us, surveyed 78 young people with recent lived experience in institutional placements.

Although this study only recorded the experiences of youth in child welfare, the sentiments expressed show an accurate reflection of all children and young people in institutions.

  • “Institution placements failed to meet the mandate of child welfare”.
  • “Institutional placements were carceral”
  • “Institutional placements were punitive”
  • “Institutional placements were traumatic and unfit for healthy child and adolescent development”
  • “Institutional placements felt like they didn’t have a way out”

“DESPERATION WITHOUT DIGNITY’: NDRN

“Desperation Without Dignity: Conditions of Children Placed in For Profit Residential Facilities” a 2021 report issued by the National Disability Rights Network in tandem with 18 state protection and advocacy agencies (P&As) gave a grueling inside look at the experiences at for-profit residential centers.

Some of the findings include:

  • “Physical abuse, often masked as punishment or a control tactic, is not uncommon in RFs.”
  • “Children in RFs across the country report sexual assault at the hands of staff.”
  • …overuse and misuse of psychiatric medication during monitoring visits at both youth residential facilities and also at for-profit psychiatric hospitals that treat children.”
  • “Youth were found to lack adequate access to clean water and proper sanitation and have limited recreational space.
  • investigators noted blood and feces on the walls and floors of the residence halls durinq a monitoring visit..
  • ..youth were forced to sleep on concrete slabs and almost exclusively sit on the floor…
  • “Some youths report that they are unable to obtain academic credit for education completed at RFs, putting them at a
  • significant disadvantage upon return to their communities.’

* Because of inconsistent reporting and licensing standards this number is most likely much higher. This number accounts for Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, and special Education placements – and estimates private placements.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

THIS ISSUE IS NOT NEW.
For decades, government and independent investigative reports
have consistently pointed to weaknesses in regulation, oversight, inconsistent licensing, decentralized jurisdiction, lack of reporting, and lack of meaningful State action towards non-compliance. Yet, little has been done.

These reports have highlighted how this negligence has led to
loss of life and continues to underscore that congreqate care
placement does not have positive outcomes for youth.

“IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO FOCUS ON ONE OR THE OTHER FIRST. A “FIRST THIS, THEN THAT” APPROACH HAS RESULTED IN A CYCLICAL NON-SOLUTION, WITH A GREAT DEAL OF PLANNING AND VERY LITTLE CHANGE. –DESPERATION WITHOUT DIGNITY, NDRN

ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS
YOUTH RIGHTS:

To establish youth rights for all young people in congregate care and systemizing loqistical processes that allow them to enjoy exercising their rights with efficacy and immediacy.

DEFINE THE ISSUE:
To establish a working definition of institutional abuse and neglect so as to engage with currently
established child protection agencies and allow victims to seek recourse. This definition and understanding
of facility culture and practices that allow for environments of abuse will also assist in the development of
individual treatment and intervention for institutional abuse.

OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
To create a culture of transparency, data-sharing, and meaningful State action against non-compliance is
the start to eliminating abusive settings disquised as “treatment.” To do this, it is vital to empower and fund
local protection and advocacy agencies, advocates, and oversight entities to have authority and necessary
resources to enforce actions against non-compliant facilities that are endangering young people.

FAMILY OVER FACILITIES:
Without question, prioritizing family-unity and community must be reflected in policy and funding efforts.
Bringing this high-level goal down to local agency level is what will prevent young people from being placed
out of the home. We must focus on what our communities are lacking to make this possible. Accessibility,
quality of services, and funding are good places to start.

DEPATHOLOGIZING ADOLESCENCE:
To shape a world in which transitioning into adulthood is supported, encouraged, and not criminalized is the beqinning to healing our families and communities. We must abandon all punitive ideology about young people and instead ask ourselves how we can be mentors, leaders, and support in their lives.

THE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CONGREGATE CARE ACT

The Accountability for Congregate Care Act of 2021 will address systemic weaknesses across multiple agencies and systems that increase reliance on congregate care and subject youth to abuse and neglect.

The passage of this Act will create a uniform Youth in Congregate Care Bill of Rights for all youth in congregate care regardless of which public or private pipeline they entered the facility.

This Bill of Rights will create a standard for the ACCA Joint Commission to lead an interdisciplinary program of research, in consultation with other Federal agencies, recognized experts in the field, and advocates. Through this research, the Commission will advise on reduction of
congregate care placement, understanding the nature and scope of institutional abuse, and will consult with States on the closure of facilities that are unable to meet standards within the Youth in Congregate Care Bill of Rights.

By supporting the passage of ACCA, funds will be created to mend systemic issues that have led to our current failures in youth and family services. The main goal being to not only establish understood rights, but to lift the walls of our largest systems and work together to provide youth with the tools and opportunities to have the brilliant futures they
deserve.

THE YOUTH IN CONGREGATE CARE BILL OF RIGHTS

EVERY YOUTH IN CONGREGATE CARE. SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO:

  • a right to physical well-being, including
    • freedom from abuse and neqlect; includinq all forms of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, financial exploitation, and excessive medication;
      • the right to be free from institutional abuse and neqlect
      • freedom from aversive behavioral interventions
      • freedom from physical, mechanical, and chemical restraint or seclusion
    • protection against unreasonable search and seizure;
      • including the use of strip searches or cavity searches as a means of punishment
  • a right to social and emotional well-being, including
    • prohibition of long periods of forced silence
    • restriction of communication with staff, caregivers, child protective services, law enforcement, or advocates
    • sufficient educational and life skills imparted onto them
    • reasonable daily access to the outdoors
    • to have essential needs met
  • to individualized and appropriate
    • to treatment that is culturally competent, trauma-informed, and most supportive of such each youth’s personal liberty and development
  • to be free from abusive, humiliating, degrading, or traumatizing treatment by staff or other youth; including
  • the ability to report mistreatment anonymously without fear of reprisal
  • • access a protection and advocacy agency

TO LEARN MORE, SUPPORT OUR CAUSE TO OR GET INVOLVED…

Linktr.ee

TO SCAN CODE:

Hold your cell phone over the QRcode with your Camera App open.

OR CONTACT

Caroline Cole – Dr. of Gov’t Relations
Breaking Code Silence
CLorson@breakingcodesilence.org

Rebecca Mellinger – Impact Producer
Paris Hilton
RebeccaM@parishiltonentertainment.com

Jadin Nunez from Killeen, Texas Charged With Capital Murder, Sentenced to Life For Death of Girlfriends 2-Year-Old Daughter

Jadin Nunez will be spending the rest of his life behind bars after a jury found him guilty of the capital murder of a 2-year-old child in Temple two years ago.

Jadin Nunez will be spending the rest of his life behind bars after a jury found him guilty of the capital murder of a 2-year-old child in Temple two years ago.
Jadin Nunez Sentenced to Life in Prison With No Chance of Parole After Beating 2 Year, Old Shannah McAlpine to Death When She Put Her Shoes On The Wrong Feet

A Texas man was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole after he beat to death his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter after she failed to put her shoes on the correct feet.

Jadin Nunez will be spending the rest of his life behind bars after a jury found him guilty of the capital murder of a 2-year-old child in Temple two years ago.

The incident unfolded in Sept. 2019 when the child reportedly put her shoes on the wrong feet, apparently enraging Nunez in the process.

The incident that resulted in the child’s death took place just moments before they were headed to a local store to pick up supplies for her upcoming birthday party.

What are the details? 

A Bell County, Texas, judge sentenced 27-year-old Jadin Nunez to life in prison last week after a jury of his peers found him guilty of murdering 2-year-old Shannah McAlpine in 2019.

Nunez, according to police, began beating Shannah, striking her across the face and then forcefully punching her in the stomach at least three times while he held her in the air.

The mother and co-defendant in the case, Ashley Marie McAlpine, was booked into jail on Dec. 17, 2020, after she was charged with injury to a child. Ashley McAlpine, 29, was being held in the Bell County Jail in lieu of a bond of $500,000, on the first-degree felony charge.

She has pleaded not guilty and has a pre-trial hearing set for Oct. 29, in the 426th Judicial District Court, according to court records.

Nunez was Ashley McAlpine’s boyfriend who lived with her and her children in Temple. Police said that Ashley McAlpine knew her children — including Shannah’s sister were beaten by Nunez, but said she would not stop him, according to a Child Protective Services report.

Sept. 22, 2019

Temple police were dispatched to a medical emergency call in the 800 block of South 11th Street. When they got there, the 2-year-old girl was found covered in bruises and not breathing. Investigators with the Criminal Investigations Unit began an investigation into the girl’s death because the cause wasn’t known.

An investigation revealed that Nunez beat and choked the child. The autopsy report said Shannah McAlpine died of blunt force trauma to her stomach, according to an arrest affidavit.

The violence that led to Shannah’s death began over shoes on the wrong feet, an investigator with Texas Department of Family & Protective Services said in his report that was obtained by FME News Service.

The family was getting ready to go to the store to get things for a birthday party for Shannah and her brother, according to the document. The girl had her shoes on the wrong feet, and Nunez then hit her on her face. She fell, and Nunez grabbed her and held her up in the air before he punched her three times in her stomach and dropped her to the floor, Ashley McAlpine told investigators.

Shannah’s mother, Ashley Marie McAlpine, then reportedly discovered the child in distress and said that she whisked her from the room and placed her on a bed elsewhere in the home. Nunez, she said, then came into the room and reportedly began choking the child with both hands. McApline said that the child began to turn blue, but Nunez refused to give up. I When he did stop choking her, the child gasped for breath and curled into a fetal position, she recalled.

Later on that night, McAlpine said that she awakened to hear her daughter crying, she tried to give her food and drink before realizing that the child’s stomach was swollen and hot, but the rest of her body was cold.

McAlpine said that she tried to put her daughter in the shower to warm her up, but the child was unable to stand and could not breathe.

At about 2:49 a.m. the mother phoned 911 and summoned first responders to the home.

Shannah was pronounced dead at 3:31 a.m.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they discovered the child unresponsive and covered in bruises.

Authorities determined that the child — who was just days away from her third birthdaydied of blunt force trauma to her stomach and arrested Nunez two days after the child’s death.

McAlpine faces charges of injury to a child after authorities said she allegedly failed to stop Nunez from beating her child. According to the Killeen Daily Herald, McApline is being held in the Bell County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond on the first-degree felony charge.

A child protective service report alleged that McAlpine was aware that Nunez was beating her children but did nothing to stop it.

McAlpine has pleaded not guilty and is due in court on Friday.

Temple man arrested in connection with death of two-year-old 5:30 pmwww.youtube.com