June 27, 2008
A bill intended to prevent the abuse of teens at residential facilities, such as those that host “boot camp” programs, passed the House on June 25. The measure (HR 6358) passed by a vote of 318-103. The bill would require greater federal oversight of all voluntary residential programs, including psychiatric facilities, group homes providing foster care and the so-called boot camp programs that mimic the discipline of military training. It would not apply to mandatory detention facilities, such as juvenile detention centers.
The measure was precipitated by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that discovered hundreds of cases of abuse in such programs, including cases of hazing, suffocation and dehydration. White House advisers applauded the bill’s sentiment but opposed its passage in a statement of administration policy issued June 23. Specifically, the Bush Administration expressed concerns about the oversight requirements made of the Department of Health and Human Services under the original bill and warned that certain provisions would lead to frivolous lawsuits. Despite this, House Education and labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Ranking Member Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), noted that a number of changes were made in the bill to address the Administration’s concerns. Companion legislation has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
Read NAMI’s letter of support for HR 6358.