New DRO report uncovers pervasive problems at child residential facility Hannah Neil

July 19, 2018 / abuse

Disability Rights Ohio conducted a nine-month investigation into complaints received about the physical abuse, neglect, exploitation, and other rights violations of the children at The Heritage of Hannah Neil (Hannah Neil), a 40-bed child residential facility located in Columbus, Ohio.

DRO’s investigation found pervasive and troubling problems evident of a harmful environment for the children, some as young as five or six years old, who were there to receive therapeutic mental health treatment. Instead, they were exposed to:

  • Physically abusive behaviors, including staff grabbing children by their necks, as well as staff kicking and/or pushing the children;
  • Unapproved restraint techniques (including chokeholds) and inappropriate seclusion in their rooms (videos show staff holding doors shut);
  • Troubling staff behavior, including a disturbing level of peer fighting with little staff intervention and instances of probable staff encouragement and direction;
  • Unsanitary living conditions and exploitation of the children including a “Community Day” where the children would have to paint the facility and clean walls and carpets; and
  • A poorly supervised and unstructured environment that fails to provide access to appropriate activities, toys, or programming.

In December 2017, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services performed its own investigation and issued a 16-page findings letter that outlined significant disrepair of the facility and lack of staff training. The letter also cited Hannah Neil for employing staff who had not completed background checks. One employee was even found to be transporting children to dental appointments on a suspended driver's license.

Although Hannah Neil has voluntarily suspended admissions and OhioMHAS has ordered the facility to remove all children from its care by Friday, July 20, OhioMHAS has not moved to pursue administrative action, like placing the facility on probationary status or moving for revocation. DRO has written a new report that outlines these findings and calls on the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services to begin administrative measures to ensure the safety of some of Ohio’s most vulnerable children.

Read the report:

Report: Persistent Problems at Hannah Neil

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