I was terribly saddened upon hearing the news that youth from EMQ FamiliesFirst residential treatment program had fled the facility and were charged for the rape of a younger resident who had also left the premises. This tragic news made The Davis Enterprise headlines twice in three days.
The information in the article was based on an interview with Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel, who revealed that the Davis police had been called by FamiliesFirst more than 500 times in the past five months, 100 times to handle runaway issues.
What the articles failed to point out is that approximately six months ago EMQ FamiliesFirst was told by Community Care Licensing that it could no longer prevent its residents (some as young as 11 years old) from leaving the premises on their own. This new bill states, under personal rights, that a child living in a treatment facility has the right “to not be locked in any room, building, or facility premises at any time,” 22CCR84072 (23).
I am a children’s mental health professional and have lived and worked in Davis for more than 20 years. In that time, I have been very impressed with the staff at FamiliesFirst. They have consistently demonstrated professionalism, and for years provided their clinical staff with weekly training by one of the finest and most gifted consultants in the state.
My heart aches for these children and the people at EMQ FamiliesFirst who truly care about them and this program. I do not understand why the agency’s CEO did not provide The Enterprise with the missing piece, the reason for the many calls to the Police Department in less than six months. The new state regulations, which are criminal, are responsible here.