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News >  Idaho

Lewiston home for troubled youngsters gets good marks from state

By Joel Mills Lewiston Tribune

The state of Idaho has lifted an admissions ban at the Northwest Children’s Home in Lewiston after it showed sufficient progress in correcting problems revealed in an investigation last year.

Regulators at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare threatened to revoke the operating license for the treatment facility for troubled youth in December after the investigation found several deficiencies, including residents committing sex offenses and other assaults against each other.

But the program manager for therapeutic and residential programs at the Department of Health and Welfare notified the facility Tuesday that it passed its annual licensing survey that began May 15.

“Throughout the survey it was evident Northwest Children’s Home Inc. is committed to improving its program and has implemented several positive changes that will result in better outcomes for the children served,” Eric Brown wrote.

The decision to revoke the home’s license came after Brown and his staff identified “numerous severe offenses” that placed residents’ health and safety at risk. He said multiple sex offenses happened at the home or in its vehicles, sometimes in the presence of staff members.

Most of the incidents were due to a lack of staff training, supervision or numbers, he said.

Officials from the home appealed the revocation in January, however. That triggered Health and Welfare’s administrative review process, which unfolded in February and March. Division of Licensing and Certification Administrator Tamara Prisock eventually ruled the home could keep its license if it took several significant steps to remedy the problems, including organizational and procedural changes proposed by the home itself.

Prisock also ordered the admissions ban, the home’s second since 2015, when troubles with runaway kids alarmed many in the community. One incident even led to criminal charges when a runaway juvenile broke into a residence and hit a woman on the head with large rock during a robbery.

In the latest action, Brown wrote that he reviewed and approved the home’s plan to fix the various problems in April, then met with the home’s staff on May 3 to discuss the requirements imposed on the home, the state’s expectations and several policy changes to remedy the runaway problems. Brown and the home’s staff also discussed progress on the corrective action plan.

“From the discussion, it was evident you and your staff have made significant changes to policies and procedures, staffing, staff training and the overall operations of Northwest Children’s Home Inc.,” Brown wrote.

Brian Pope, the chief executive officer at the home, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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