A behavioral health agency that serves youths across Washington State had its licenses revoked last week at its Spokane and Vancouver inpatient facilities after employees at both locations were accused of inappropriate relationships with teen patients.
Daybreak Youth Services is required to shut down its Spokane and Brush Prairie facilities as soon as patients can be relocated.
The Washington State Department of Health issued a notice of intent to suspend Daybreak’s license at its Spokane facility in August after company officials refused to cooperate with an ongoing investigation into patient safety.
Daybreak plans to appeal the license suspensions calling the decision “vindictive and retaliatory,” in a news release late Friday.
David Smith, Daybreak’s attorney, alleged the Department of Health used questionable tactics in the investigation into the health care facilities and drummed up Daybreak’s lack of cooperation as a pretense to shut it down. Daybreak has repeatedly said it cooperated with investigators.
Smith also questioned the department’s ability to suspend the licenses amid ongoing litigation.
Daybreak, founded in 1978, offers trauma-focused addiction and mental health treatment for youths ages 12 to 18. The Spokane inpatient facility, at 628 South Cowley St., can treat up to 36 girls at a time. The Vancouver area clinic, called Brush Prairie, treats boys. Daybreak also offers outpatient co-ed clinics and counseling in Spokane Valley.
The Spokane investigation began in March 2022 with allegations of misconduct as a result of “patient boundary issues” with a staff member that was reported to the health department, according to a news release at the time. The staff member was accused of coming to the facility to “hang with the girls” on his day off and “slut-shaming” the teens by commenting on their clothes.
The staff member was subsequently fired.
Daybreak refused to provide information on the situation requested by state regulators, according to the health department.
The facility was one of the only residential treatment centers for youths in Eastern Washington.
Daybreak has had regulatory issues at its inpatient facilities dating back to at least 2018 when the Department of Health investigated the Brush Prairie facility after allegations it was unsafe due to numerous unreported sexual assaults and altercations.
The health department threatened to revoke the facility’s license then but an appeal kept it open. In 2019, Daybreak settled with the department, agreeing to improve staffing, training, security and reporting policies.
In March of this year, a former counselor at the Brush Prairie inpatient facility for teen boys was charged with sexual misconduct with a minor for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Alicia Kaye Stowe, 34, is set to be tried on the charge in October.
Daybreak CEO Tom Russell told the Columbian newspaper that Stowe was fired for performance issues prior to the criminal investigation.
Stowe’s charges aren’t the first issues at the Brush Prairie facility. One other counselor, LaRae Swope, was fired for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with a patient and another counselor was terminated for communicating with former patients, according to the Columbian.
Daybreak has four days to appeal the suspension of both facilities.