A recent op-ed in the Washington Post penned by Paris Hilton uncovered years of trauma and abuse which the hotel heiress was subject to during her two years in four congregate care facilities. In the piece, Hilton recounts that she “endured physical and psychological abuse by staff: I was choked, slapped across the face, spied on while showering and deprived of sleep. I was called vulgar names and forced to take medication without a diagnosis. At one Utah facility, I was locked in solitary confinement in a room where the walls were covered in scratch marks and blood stains.”
Now, fellow survivors, child welfare advocates, and lawmakers have joined forces with Hilton to stand up for children’s rights through the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which was announced during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.
Why is this so important? It’s been over ten years since Congress acknowledged an abuse issue at congregate care facilities through a 2008 government accountability report. And although the report found ineffective management in facilities led to the “death and abuse” of young people, nothing has been done to hold these institutions accountable.
According to Hilton’s partners in this mission, Breaking Code Silence, “[c]hildren living in congregate care facilities represent some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth and deserve special protections. Over 120,000 youth are pipelined into residential placements each year through their local school district’s individualized education programs, the juvenile justice system, the foster care system, mental health service providers, private parental placement, and even refugee resettlement programs. Many of these youth have prior trauma histories before placement, issues only exacerbated by extended separation from peers, families, and communities once placed in congregate care settings.
The Accountability for Congregate Care Act will lay the groundwork for what Hilton refers to as a “bill of rights” for young people in congregate care facilities that will ensure they are safe from institutional abuse, neglect, and coercion.
We urge lawmakers to come together and fully fund the Accountability for Congregate Care Act with haste.
You can help protect children by making your voice heard. Click here to sign the Beau Biden Foundation’s petition demanding that lawmakers take action to fully fund the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.
Please, sign our petition today. It will only take a couple of seconds, and that small action could change the life of a child living with a predator.