Feedback wanted on new regulations for Utah’s youth congregate care

Local News

FILE – This March 8, 2018, file photo, shows the exterior of the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Following the passage of Senate Bill 127, the regulation of Utah’s congregate care programs is expanding for the first time in 15 years.

Amid the law taking effect, state officials are asking for your input on new rules governing youth congregate care programs.

You can offer your input via a survey asking about suicide prevention, use of restraints, and gender-affirming care from the Utah Department of Human Services Office of Licensing.

The Office of Licensing oversees Utah’s youth congregate care program by licensing, monitoring, and regulating the programs. Licensing rules are established with community support and enforced by state law. They are detailed standards and requirements that ensure licensed programs comply with local, state, and federal rules and laws.

When laws change, the Office of Licensing has to update the rules to reflect those changes. Part of that updating process is seeking public input.

To give your input, visit the New Rules for Congregate Care Survey. Topics covered in the survey include approaches to trauma-informed and gender-affirming care, suicide prevention, and policies regulating behavior management and the use of restraints.

“We want to make sure that the rules we develop clearly define the intended improvements in the law so they can be implemented and regulated,” says OL Director Amanda Slater. “These programs must be safe places that promote respect, health and healing for youth requiring services.”

If you want to take the survey, you have until May 16. Staff from the Office of Licensing will then analyze the feedback and incorporate findings in the new rule that will be published for public comment before going into effect.

Officials say the survey is not designed to record official complaints about specific programs.

If you suspect mistreatment, fraud, or exploitation at a licensed care facility in Utah, officials ask that you submit your concern here or email licensingconcerns@utah.gov.

Utah’s youth congregate care program has received backlash recently, especially from celebrity Paris Hilton, who testified on S.B. 127 in February.

Last fall, Hilton started a petition with allegations against Provo Canyon School. It addressed what she claims as “institutional child abuse she suffered as a teenager at Provo Canyon School (PCS), a notorious residential treatment center in Utah that still operates today,” as stated in the petition.

Hilton joined a panel of Utah advocates and lawmakers to speak with ABC4’s Glen Mills about using your voice to create policy change.

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