Officials: Teen Facilities' Rules Need Change; Regulations Need to Be Streamlined, They Say, and Inspection Coordinated

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Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | Rules requiring shampoo and dish-washing soap to be in locked cabinets to protect teenagers at private, state-licensed facilities are among those listed Monday as in need of change.

A legislative committee created to study the issues heard from a handful of facilities executives and the former head of the state's welfare agency who now runs a trade association for the facilities.

"I do not come to you today in an adversarial manner, but more of a collegial manner," said Ron Scroggy, former director of the Department of Family And Children Services and current executive director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children.

He and the other witnesses stressed that they aren't seeking to avoid oversight, just to get the state to be better at it.

The shampoo and soap rules are considered safety violations for which facilities like WinShape Centre and Eagle Ranch have received formal citations even though experts generally consider both as among the best. Yet, the appeals procedures are so long and costly that neither bothered.

They urged the lawmakers to streamline the regulations and get cooperation between the various agencies that inspect their facilities, including those with oversight of mental health, education, juvenile justice, foster care and contract compliance. Each inspection can take all day to all week, and occasionally two inspectors will arrive unannounced on the same day.

The facilities executives also complained that a website run by the state that lists inspection reports and citations casts them in a bad light and isn't updated enough to show current correction plans. …