Clients at KIDS of El Paso County Inc. are still being mistreated, and the controversial rehabilitation program could lose its license May 12, a state commission ruled Tuesday. The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse which has been investigating KIDS since last summer released a 50-page report Tuesday based on a March 22 visit to the center at 6500 Boeing. Commission lawyer *** in comparing the most recent report with one released in February, said, "The format of the report is different, but essentially a lot of the same problems still exist.” In the February report, commission investigators reported physical abuse, neglect, and civil rights violations. They warned program officials and gave them 60 days to come into compliance with commission standards. The investigation be and after the commission received several complaints' the first in March 1987 from an 18-year-old who said he had been held in the program against his will. *** said Commission Director *** will make a decision May 12 about whether the program will lose its license. KIDS officials have until then prepare a response. ***, KIDS community relations director, said officials will meet with board members later this week or next week to decide on a response. During the follow-up inspection commission investigators interviewed former clients who had been in the program at least since January. “Emotional abuse in the form of cursing, 'mocking out' and 'blasting' (program terminology), threats, ridicule, sleep deprivation, innuendo’s regarding abnormal sexual practices or homosexuality, and intimidation continue to be reported," the report states. "Several clients reported being afraid of the program, staff or other clients." According to the report, KIDS' written policy "does not address client mistreatment, abuse, neglect, and exploitation," the report states, and neither does the policy provide for alternatives to restraint. One client reported she had been beaten, had her lip split and her hair pulled. Another said his lip was bloodied, his shirt torn and he was pinned against the wall with his feet off the floor. "They have no mercy,” an unidentified client said in the report. Yet another said he had been in the New Jersey and Texas KIDS programs for 1,118 days, and stated he did not believe he would ever graduate, the report says. Program director *** "was adamant" during an interview with the commission staff that client abuse does not and has not occurred, the report said. The report disagreed, stating that there had been abuse by KIDS' staff members, and adding, "In particular, there is a significant amount of client abuse by other clients." The commission also said it had received reports since the March staff visit that some clients were punished for talking with investigators. KIDS treats people between 13 and 21 years old who have eating disorders, problems with alcohol or drugs or other behavioral problems. *** said KIDS has about 100 clients and hasn't lost any due to the controversial publicity the program has been receiving. She said about 21 clients moved from the El Paso program to a California KIDS program that opened March 23.
Report of violations
In a report released Tuesday, the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse listed several violations of state regulations by KIDS of El Paso County:
- KIDS clients are beaten, mocked, and mistreated.
- Clients' medical needs were not assessed in consultation with a physician.
- Clients are coerced into entering the treatment program and "then are unduly hampered by program staff from exercising their legal right to withdraw."
- Clients are not informed of their rights in writing.
- All clients cannot communicate with an attorney.
- A psychiatrist does not certify the appropriateness of all admissions.
- Treatment plans aren't individualized.
- There is no annual training plan for staff members.