Residential Facilities: State and Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth Well-Being

GAO-08-696T Published: Apr 24, 2008. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2008.
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Nationwide, federal funding to states supported more than 200,000 youth in facilities seeking help for behavioral or emotional challenges in 2004. Recent federal reviews and investigations highlighted maltreatment in some facilities, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths. This testimony discusses (1) what is known about incidents that adversely affect youth well-being in residential facilities, (2) the extent that state oversight ensures youth well-being in these facilities, and (3) the factors that affect the ability of federal agencies to hold states accountable for youth well-being in residential facilities. This testimony is based on GAO's ongoing work, which included national surveys to state agencies of child welfare, health and mental health, and juvenile justice for the year 2006. GAO achieved an 85 percent response rate for each of the three surveys. The work also included site visits to four states (California, Florida, Maryland, and Utah) and discussions with the Departments of Education (Education), Justice (DOJ), and Health and Human Services (HHS). Interim work related to this testimony was completed between November 2006 and March 2008, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

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