Safety and Normalcy

2020 is a year when each of us are required to maintain a physical distance from one another due to the national pandemic, but we have never needed to come together to make a difference more… especially for the vulnerable young people who are entrusted to congregate care. 

Congregate care is a term that refers to group homes, residential treatment facilities, psychiatric institutions and emergency shelters. Research indicates that children and teens should be placed in the least restrictive, most family-like settings possible.

  • Sadly, due to the opioid epidemic, overwhelmed child welfare agencies, and not having enough foster parents for teenagers, 12% of Ohio foster youth experienced congregate care in 2019.
  • The impact of COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to maintain a sufficient number of foster homes, especially for teenagers.

The #1 issue that Ohio foster care youth expressed last year was normalcy and safety concerns, especially for young people entrusted to congregate care. Here is a link to some direct quotes from youth.

In 2019, Ohio foster care youth and alumni met with the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Health to share safety concerns that had been reported to us regarding a certain facility.  It is important to note that those concerns have been echoed and evidenced by a series of articles (links below).

During the 2020 Virtual Foster Care Forum hosted by ACTION Ohio:

  • Nikki Chinn shared written testimony that provided specific examples of rights violations of Ohio youth in congregate care.
  • Nikki’s video testimony outlines specific recommendations to improve Ohio congregate care for youth, including state oversight and directives to ensure that youth in congregate care receive safety, normalcy, food, medical care, access to Youth Rights Handbook and preparation for adulthood.

Disability Rights Ohio
has compiled a summary of Children’s Rights when they live in a residential treatment facility. These include physical safety, respectful care and treatment, safeguarding the resident’s belongings, and access to phone calls and visits.

Bennett Haeberle is an Emmy-winning journalist who serves as the Chief Investigative Reporter with 10TV. Below are links to articles that outline his ongoing investigation regarding Sequel Pomegranate:


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