The Department of Justice announced today that Alaska will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing community-based services to children with behavioral health disorders and instead relying on segregated institutional settings. announced that it had found reasonable grounds to believe it violated — specifically mental hospitals and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. The findings build on the conclusions of an investigation into whether Alaska is placing children with behavioral disorders in unnecessary institutions in violation of Title II of her ADA.
“Each year, hundreds of children, including a significant number of Alaska Native children, are segregated in institutions far from their communities,” said Kristen Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Most of them can stay in their families’ homes if appropriate community-based services are provided.Working with Alaska to ensure the state complies with federal law and eliminates unnecessary institutionalization of children. I look forward to preventing it.”
Children placed in isolation in psychiatric residential treatment facilities typically stay there for six months or more. Some children are sent to states as far away as Texas and Missouri, thousands of miles from their families.
A study by the agency found that Alaska’s care system relies heavily on institutions, including at-home family care, crisis services, and curative treatment home services to provide services to children with behavioral disorders in family homes. We found that we needed the key community-based service and support we needed. , is often unavailable. As a result, many children with behavioral problems, including a significant number of Alaska Native children, are unnecessarily and disproportionately placed in psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric residential care facilities both within Alaska and statewide. forced to endure long hospital stays.
With today’s announcement, the department concludes its third 2022 study involving unnecessary institutionalization of children with behavioral disorders.
Additional information about the Department of Justice’s Office for Civil Rights is available on the website at www.justice.gov/crt.