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After troubling discoveries during a routine monitoring visit in October of 2022, Disability Rights Ohio began an investigation into Youth Intensive Services. The investigation took place over a period of approximately 16 months and included numerous interviews with children and staff, hours of video review, and review of hundreds of records. Youth Intensive Services calls themselves “a 4–6-month intense residential program that maintains a staff-secure, trauma-informed environment for adolescent males and females between the ages of 12-18.”

Over the course of 16-months, DRO’s investigation found:


Regular instances of youth leaving the facility were observed in video review, reported by interviews with children and the facility, and documented in police reports. At our most recent visit, we learned that a youth will leave the facility to visit unknown men and return to the facility to shower. In some reports, the same children ran away from the facility multiple times in one day and were gone from the facility for several hours or days and returned by police. Several youth returned to the facility with injuries, reported possible sexual assault, or tested positive for drugs.


Inappropriate, unapproved, and dangerous restraint techniques-

Video recorded within the facility shows children being restrained against objects such as trashcans and chairs with their heads being placed in dangerous ways, staff laying on top of children with their entire body weight, and children helping to restrain other kids.


Physically abusive behaviors by staff-

Multiple incidents were recorded on video showing staff members slapping, shoving, and placing children into chokeholds. Children also reported being hit in the face and tackled to the ground by staff.


DRO’s investigation also found traumatizing staff conduct, a chaotic environment, and an ineffective grievance system.

Disability Rights Ohio has consistently brought the issues in this report to the attention of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and Youth Intensive Services (YIS) asking both entities to do more to improve the care and safety provided to children at YIS, including asking YIS to voluntarily suspend admission. Neither OhioMHAS nor YIS has done enough to address these issues, and DRO continues to receive information about dangerous and concerning conditions at YIS. We are asking OhioMHAS to suspend YIS’s license until YIS can demonstrate that it meets minimum standards and that sustainable trauma-informed care practices are implemented at Youth Intensive Services.

Click Here to view our report, Dangerous Inaction: A Culture of Chaos at Youngstown’s Youth Intensive Services.


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