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Lawsuit Highlights Concerns About Group Home Safety, Quality

A series of recent lawsuits and shocking allegations have drawn renewed attention to the abuse and neglect concerns plaguing youth group homes and nursing facilities in South Carolina and across the country. Specifically, the alarming nature of a high-profile sex abuse case stemming from conduct at the Boys Home of the South in Belton ultimately caused the facility to close last year, as criticism continued to mount with regard to the level of oversight, care and standards being observed in that and similar institutions.

Given the considerable amount of public resources spent on operating facilities of this type, the troubling conditions such litigation has revealed are enough to give the public serious pause.

Allegations of abuse and neglect on the rise

According to a lawsuit filed by a 23-year-old former resident of the Boys Home of the South, sexual molestation at the site was ongoing, despite his repeated efforts to alert staffers as well as the Department of Social Services caseworker assigned to him. Once he was finally moved out of the residential facility, the plaintiff’s new foster mother realized he was in need of significant help. He wore diapers, was exceedingly anxious and bore physical scarring indicative of sexual abuse. The young man’s attorney has stated that he is likely to require intensive therapy and heightened medical care for the remainder of his life.

Though this case was characterized by especially troubling claims, the Boys Home of the South was by no means the only such facility to have drawn substantial scrutiny. New Hope Carolinas, the operator of a psychiatric treatment facility located in Rock Hill, has been the subject of no fewer than 119 neglect and abuse investigations dating back to 2000. Six additional group homes have been the target of 80 different Social Services investigations over the last 15 years. Frustrating to many are the facts that these facilities all remain open, and the contents and results of those investigations are sealed from public view.

Group home debate rages on as money continues to flow

Despite the investigations, criticisms and accusations concerning many group homes in the state, tax data reveals that such nonprofit residential facilities garner approximately $70 million annually, from valuable state contracts and other private contributions. Some skeptics assert that these homes have become little more than profit centers for their operators, with far too little emphasis on providing quality care and support to children who are placed there.

Legal advocates have suggested that many group home operators ignore allegations of abuse lodged by residents out of fear that the resulting investigations would cause child welfare agencies to quit sending new children and referring other patients, resulting in a revenue nosedive.

Protecting our most vulnerable populations

Group homes, psychiatric facilities and nursing homes can play a critical role in protecting, aiding and providing a safe residential experience to those individuals most in need. However, without a renewed vigilance when it comes to identifying and rooting out those willing to abuse or neglect those patients, the reputation of such facilities is certain to continue its decline.

If you or a loved one has experienced neglect or abuse in the context of a group care facility or nursing home, you owe it to yourself to pursue all available options for legal recourse. The South Carolina personal injury attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm stand ready to provide a comprehensive review of your case and fight to hold those responsible for your pain and suffering fully accountable. Call (803) 200-2000 to begin your journey to justice.

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Michael Jeffcoat, 1333 Main Street, Suite 510 Columbia, SC 29201
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