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“As a result of the recent death of a youth in the care of Jackson Avenue Group Home in New Orleans, DSS licensing visited the site and conducted an inspection citing 14 deficiencies. Based on that report, Harmony Center Inc. today voluntarily relinquished the home’s child residential license, closing the site,” said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols.
The six children who were housed at Jackson Avenue Group Home are being placed at other licensed facilities or foster homes.
DSS first licensed Jackson Avenue Group Home in November 1995. Since June 8, 2009, DSS licensing staff found 14 deficiencies including:
- Violation of a child’s rights
- Failure to protect children from abuse and neglect
- Lack of written case records, including treatment data and abuse, neglect or accident incidents
- Inadequate staffing
- Insufficient child to staff ratios
- Inadequate staff communication procedures, including communication regarding runaway incident reports
- Failure to report to parents, guardians, Bureau of Licensing and other appropriate authorities of any incident which involves the death of a child or any serious threat to the child’s health, safety or well-being.
“Our overall goal in the reform of child residential standards is to provide a safe, secure and stable environment in all licensed facilities,” Nichols said.
The proposed changes are DSS’ latest step in the department’s plan for overall child residential reform. Recently, the State Legislature passed and the Governor signed SB 238 by Senator Willie Mount, which gives DSS the authority to revoke the licenses of child residential facilities that do not meet the agencies licensing standards.
Previously, DSS had to bring recommendations for license revocation to the Louisiana Advisory Committee on Licensing of Child Care Facilities and Child Placing Agencies, which determined what actions could be taken when a facility was not in compliance with DSS standards.