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June 26, 2024 | Press Releases

Steube, Panetta Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Protect Youth in Residential Treatment Facilities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Greg Steube (R-Fla.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) introduced the Promoting Accountability, Reporting, Information Sharing, and Health Act to help better protect youth in residential treatment facilities. The bipartisan legislation will improve oversight and accountability by enhancing federal guidance, technical assistance, and data reporting. 

“We’ve heard horrific accounts from survivors about their time in congregate care facilities across the country. It’s clear better federal guidance and information sharing is needed to root out abuse and keep America’s youth safe. Congress has the power to act, and we must exercise our authority to ensure better oversight and accountability of residential youth programs receiving federal funding,” said Rep Steube. “The Promoting Accountability, Reporting, Information Sharing, and Health Act will ensure we are tackling this issue on all fronts. Congress must strengthen the current laws and put new protections in place to prevent the abuse at residential treatment facilities from perpetuating any longer.” 

“Reports of abuse in youth residential treatment centers are alarming, unacceptable, and need to be addressed by the federal government,” said Rep. Panetta.  “This bipartisan legislation would allow federal lawmakers and government agencies to better understand the scope of these issues, provide critical oversight, and inform action to improve services for these vulnerable children.  The federal government must play its part to help ensure the well-being and proper care of our foster youth.”

“The disturbing pattern of maltreatment and abuse in youth residential treatment centers, recently exposed by a government watchdog, cannot go unaddressed by Congress. We have a responsibility to ensure that children in congregate care settings remain safe and protected. I want to thank Representatives Steube and Panetta for this important and long-overdue legislation that will increase oversight and accountability of youth residential treatment programs,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

Approximately 10% of foster youth spend time in congregate care settings. A 2022 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed alarming instances of maltreatment and abuse in youth residential treatment centers. In their report, GAO recommended additional steps be taken to address maltreatment and how relevant federal agencies are supporting state efforts.

The Promoting Accountability, Reporting, Information Sharing, and Health Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the Department of Education, Administration for Children and Families, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Justice, and other policy experts, to develop guidance on best practices for federal agencies and states. The guidance will focus on collecting data and sharing information related to youth well-being in residential treatment facilities, improving data on maltreatment, and enhancing oversight of youth residential programs receiving federal funding.

The Ways and Means Committee’s jurisdiction includes matters that relate to the public assistance provisions of the Social Security Act, including temporary assistance for needy families, child care, child and family services, child support, foster care, adoption, supplemental security income, social services, eligibility of welfare recipients for food stamps, and low-income energy assistance.