The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin is funding a new statewide initiative to help residential treatment centers adopt safer, more effective tools than traumatic and potentially deadly seclusion and restraint practices commonly used to manage the behavior of children and youth.
Training, information, collaboration and technical assistance to residential treatment centers will begin this fall and will be coordinated by the nonprofit Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) with a three-year, $589,172 grant from the Hogg Foundation. In 2010, 79 centers licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provided 24-hour care and treatment for 1,559 children and youth with emotional disturbances.
"We're excited about this opportunity to work with residential treatment centers in Texas, which are very dedicated in their efforts to serve children and youth who've experienced traumatizing abuse and neglect in their lives," said Theresa Tod, TNOYS executive director.
The initiative will help centers implement behavior management practices that are proven effective in treating children and youth who have experienced physical or emotional trauma. These practices, called trauma-informed care, are built on the knowledge that past traumatic experiences can affect children's behavior.
"An important voice in this process will be that of the children and youth themselves. We want to ensure that their perspectives and experiences are heard and have an impact on decisions and actions taken on their behalf," Tod said.
Facilities that adopt trauma-informed care practices often discover they no longer need to use seclusion and restraint techniques, which use physical force, restrict movement, or involuntarily medicate or isolate people to manage behavior. Their use is considered a failure in treatment that can be traumatic and dangerous to consumers and staff and can cause severe physical and psychological harm, even death. Most recently in Texas, a 16-year-old boy died in 2010 after being restrained at the now-closed Daystar Residential treatment center near Houston. In January his death was ruled a homicide.
Many Texas facilities, including some residential treatment centers, already are working to reduce or eliminate seclusion and restraint practices by adopting trauma-informed policies and procedures and changing their training programs and work environments.
"Understanding that a person's behavior may result from what has happened to them in the past enables caregivers to be more understanding, supportive and able to respond in positive ways that create a respectful, person-centered environment," said Dr. Lynda Frost, director of planning and programs at the Hogg Foundation. "The goal of this new initiative is to enhance and support the progress already being made by many of these centers in understanding and implementing trauma-informed practices."
This new initiative is the latest in a series of programs funded by the foundation since 2004 to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in Texas, including statewide and regional conferences and training programs attended by hundreds of representatives from dozens of organizations.
Frost also is a founding member and facilitator of the Texas Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Leadership Group. The group works with policy makers and state agencies to reduce seclusion and restraint in Texas. Its members include state agency leaders, consumers, service providers, advocates and philanthropists across that state.
Read more information about reducing seclusion and restraint.