State wants KIDS on probation
KIDS of El Paso a hard-nosed treatment program for young drug abusers that was criticized sharply by some former clients, received an apparent two-year reprieve Thursday in its battle to stay open. A hearing officer of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Austin recommended that the center on Boeing Drive be allowed to stay open on two years probation. KIDS board Chairman *** said. The recommendation must go to the full commission for approval. The finding of hearing officer ***, if confirmed would reverse the stand taken by commission investigators who last June called for KIDS to be closed. Branding the program as unnecessarily harsh, the investigators charged it provided clients with inadequate medical care and violated their civil rights. Defenders of KIDS say it's a tough program, but contend it gets problem youngsters who cannot kick their drug habits under more lenient programs. "This pretty much gets KIDS out of limbo," ***, the program's Austin lawyer, said Thursday. "We hope to get back on a normal track, operating and following the terms of the probation." *** specific findings haven't been made public. But *** said she "indicated her biggest concern was lack of professional staff in the treatment program." "She felt there had been some breakdown in supervision. That's something KIDS has recognized and tried to correct," *** said. Complaints against KIDS date from March 1987, when an 18-year-old contended he had been held at the center against his will for two months. He left the center under police escort after a complaint was filed on his behalf. KIDS now is working with 45 to 50 clients, *** said, about half the number in the program a year ago. *** attributed the drop to the transfer of more than 20 clients to a new KIDS center in Southern California and an enrollment slowdown caused by the publicity. KIDS, which is licensed to operate as an intensive outpatient care center, charges just under $700 a month for treatment that for most clients lasts about 18 months.