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Know Your Rights!

Posted Sep 26 2008 5:17pm

A friend of mine found the perfect residential treatment facility for her dually-diagnosed twenty year-old daughter. Unfortunately, this perfect place is in another state, eight hours away by car. As we talked, she shared her fears about placing her very sick girl in the care of strangers, and asked me how she could be certain her safety was guaranteed.

Of course, this concerned and engaged mom had already done her homework and knew that this particular facility treated both the mental illness and substance abuse with which her daughter was dealing. In addition to those facts, certain policies and methods of communication are vital.

Listed below  are some of the rights that youth and families possess in order to prevent abuse or neglect in a residential setting. If any of these are disregarded or unavailable, I’d look for a new placement.


  • Your child should have reasonable access to a telephone to make uncensored calls.
  • You and your child should be provided with direct, 24-hour telephone numbers for use if rights are being violated or they are being mistreated.
  • You should always be notified if their child is sick or injured.
  • You should always be notified within 24 hours about medication changes and missed dosages.
  • You should always be notified within 48 hours of any on-site investigations or reports of child abuse and neglect, violation of health and safety standards, or violations of state licensing standards.
  • Your child should never be subject to abusive disciplinary methods, such as seclusion, restraint, corporal punishment, fear tactics, humiliation, forced labor, medicinal sedation, or the withholding of food, water, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
  • You should never be approached with funding incentives to relinquish custody of your child.
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