The controversial KID of El Paso County Inc. rehabilitation program ended its stormy four year existence Monday, citing financial problems in the wake of a state investigation and negative publicity. “With great regret I announce that KIDS of El Paso County has closed its doors and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy today," said *** an El Paso businessman and chairman of the center's board. Under Chapter 7 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, the assets of KIDS will be sold off to pay claims from creditors. *** would not specify the program’s debt and the bankruptcy petition could not be filed Monday because federal courts were closed for the Columbus Day holiday. "The costs of defending our license, and the attendant negative publicity from this and other legal matters, have combined to create a financial situation from which we cannot expect to recover without substantial financial assistance which we do not see forthcoming," *** said. The center at 6500 Boeing in Central El Paso was started in 1985 by concerned parents of teenagers with compulsive behavior problems, such as drug addiction and anorexia. It has been operating under a provisional state license. Last year, the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse recommended revoking the center's license after finding the center had abused clients and had violated state regulations. But a state judge in Austin allowed KIDS to continue operating until an administrative hearing on the matter was completed. This spring, the state commission agreed to reinstate KIDS' license for a year, provided it complied with state standards. Critics of the program claimed that some patients were held against their will and were abused physically and psychologically. Proponents, including many prominent El Pasoans, said the program was the last resort for families who had exhausted other methods in trying to help their children. ***, founder of the treatment program in Hackensack, N.J., said parents have the option of sending teenagers currently enrolled at the El Paso center to affiliated programs in Salt Lake City or New Jersey. "It's kind of sad," ***, said. "(El Paso's center) got nit-picked to death, and the financial toll on it was too great.” *** said 36 patients were enrolled when the El Paso center closed. “Five or six families sent their children to the center in New Jersey, but I don't know how many chose to send their, children to Utah," he said. Even with its doors shut, the program's problems apparently are far from over. ***, a private detective who is representing 23 former El Paso KIDS patients, said a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations is being prepared and will be filed in court soon. *** said he has investigated the program since 1986 and is intimately familiar with its operations. "Nothing's changed," he said. "The problems, policies and procedures that were investigated by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse merely have been transferred to another state." *** said 20 to 25 El Paso KIDS patients were flown on a private plane over the weekend to Salt Lake City. "The El Paso group helped to bolster the enrollment at Utah's center, which opened about a month ago” he said. The El Paso center had about 90 clients in September before the enrollment dropped sharply." ***, an El Paso lawyer who represents former KIDS patients, said he helped a 19-year-old who had been taken to the New Jersey center against his will three weeks ago. "He had called me from New Jersey, and I sent him the bus fare to return to El Paso," *** said. He had called from New Jersey and I sent him the bus fare to return to El Paso,” *** said.
History behind rise and fall of KIDS
The history of KIDS of El Paso Inc.
- November 1985 - Center breaks ground at 6531 Boeing.
- February 1986 - KIDS opens for business
- March 1987 - A KID' patient alleges being held against his will and leaves the center under police escort.
- May 1987 - Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse begins its investigation of KIDS.
- February 1988 - The commission issues a report charging KIDS with physical abuse of clients, neglect and civil rights violations and threatens to revoke its license
- June 3, 1988 - Texas attorney general's office investigators recommend revoking KIDS license
- June 14, 1988 - District Judge *** in Austin orders KIDS closed and its 90 patients disenrolled.
- June 17, 1988- A different judge modifies the June 14 injunction and allows KIDS to remain open pending the outcome of a June 23 hearing.
- June 23, 1988 - Court testimony by KIDS patients, parents, and staff members continues.
- January 1989 - The State holds an administrative hearing in El Paso to determine whether KIDS should keep its license. The person hearing the case, ***, recommends suspending the license and putting the center on two years' probation.
- June 1989 - Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug agrees to reinstate KIDS' operating license, after recommending changes in the way the program is run.
- Monday - A KIDS official formally announces the center closed and is filing for bankruptcy.