Admissions suspended at Youngstown's Youth Intensive Services, weeks after DRO investigative report

July 2, 2024

In May, civil rights advocate Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) released the results of a 16-month investigation into Youth Intensive Services (YIS), a Youngstown residential treatment facility that provides mental and behavioral health services to children ages 12 to 18. Although findings were consistently reported to YIS and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) over the course of the investigation, YIS has taken no steps to remedy the situation. Last week, a month after our investigative report was made public, OhioMHAS suspended admissions to YIS, effective immediately. OhioMHAS is now requiring YIS to take corrective action to address all concerns before it will lift the suspension, and has stated that OhioMHAS “is prepared to take additional necessary steps to ensure that youth currently entrusted to YIS receive quality care and treatment in a safe environment” if YIS does not resolve the issues.

“As the federally authorized protection and advocacy (P&A) system for people with disabilities in Ohio, it is our responsibility to bring egregious concerns and rights’ violations to OhioMHAS’ attention when a facility like YIS is not willing to work with us to remedy unsafe situations,” said Kerstin Sjoberg, DRO president and CEO. “As the licensing authority for mental health services in the state, we remain concerned about OhioMHAS lack of response throughout the course of our investigation. We are, however, grateful that the action it has finally taken to suspend admissions will help to protect young people who are sent YIS for treatment. We hope OhioMHAS will fulfill its stated commitment to take further action if needed to ensure children at YIS get the quality treatment they deserve.”

YIS is licensed by OhioMHAS as a Class One residential facility, which means that it is to provide accommodations, supervision, and mental health and personal care services to children and adolescents with mental health issues. Following a thorough investigation involving numerous interviews, hours of video review, and examination of hundreds of records, DRO found numerous instances of children leaving the facility without permission and being exposed to dangerous conditions while off-grounds, inappropriate and painful restraint techniques and physical abuse by staff, and lack of YIS leadership to provide a safe, trauma-free culture for childhood survivors of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

“While we remain concerned with the inaction and amount of time it has taken OhioMHAS to respond to our concerns regarding YIS, we realize that the organization has numerous responsibilities throughout the state and cannot be everywhere at once,” noted Sjoberg. “We are, however, relieved that OhioMHAS has finally taken steps to close admissions until improvements for the care and safety of the children can be determined. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with both YIS and OhioMHAS to decide the best ways to move forward.”

The full report issued by DRO regarding findings into conditions at YIS can be accessed here. You can learn more about our investigation by visiting

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