DOJ finds Nevada unnecessarily segregates children with behavioral health issues

The United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice(MGN)
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 2:17 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Department of Justice says the State of Nevada unnecessarily segregates children with behavioral health disabilities in institutions.

They have concluded the state subjects these children to unnecessary institutionalization in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Furthermore, they concluded Nevada also violated the ADA by failing to provide adequate community-based services to children with such disabilities. Instead, they say, the state relied on segregated, institutional settings like hospitals and residential treatment facilities.

According to their investigation, hundreds of children are isolated in residential treatment facilities each year even though they could remain with their families if given the necessary services.

More than a quarter of those children stay over a year, some of whom are placed outside Nevada. They further accuse Nevada of failing to connect children in institutions with services to allow them to return to their community.

“Children with disabilities should receive the services they need to remain with their families and in their communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division looks forward to working with Nevada to bring the State into compliance with federal law and prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of children.”

The DOJ says Nevada lacks needed community-based services such as intensive in-home services, crisis services, intensive care coordination, respite, therapeutic foster care, and other family-based supports.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued a statement in the aftermath of the findings:

“For far too long, Nevada has not invested in the appropriate health resources for our children and our families – this new report shines a bright light on that fact. That’s why, over the last year, the State of Nevada has used newly available federal resources to make historic and unprecedented investments to shore up these systems and provide immediate resources and relief to our families and children who need community based behavioral health services.”

“My administration is committed to continuing to build on this work to create the lasting systemic changes that our children and families deserve. Funds are already being built into my recommended budget, and we look forward to partnering with experts and our community to better serve all of our children in their homes and communities.”

Sisolak went on to discuss millions in investments the state has made in the last year towards the children’s behavioral health system, including $43 million in funding to organizations that support behavioral health needs, and $5 million for in-home treatment options.