A second Utah facility where Oregon has placed foster children will close, forcing Oregon child welfare officials to find new places for three boys between the ages of 12 and 18 to live, the Oregon child welfare agency announced last week.
The facility, Mount Pleasant Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, is run by the same large for-profit firm, Sequel Youth and Family Services, that operated Red Rock Canyon School, which recently announced it plans to close amid accusations that children were abused there.
Jake Sunderland, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, said Friday that Sequel officials decided to relinquish Mount Pleasant’s license and cease operations. But Sequel officials said the facility’s license remains in good standing and won’t be relinquished. They said in a statement that declining demand for Mount Pleasant’s services compelled them to close it because it has too few boys enrolled to keep operating.
The 16-bed facility was designed to house boys “struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors, sensitive sexual issues, pornography addiction or digital addictions,” according to its website.
Sequel officials said in their statement, “We are considering how to repurpose Mount Pleasant to serve the needs of a broader population of clients.”
Sunderland said child welfare workers have already begun searching for new placements for the three Oregon boys “in a way that meets their needs with the least amount of disruption.” He noted they may be sent to a different out-of-state child treatment center.
Workers hope to move the trio by the end of July, he said.
Oregon child welfare workers are also seeking new placements for the 11 Oregon children living at Red Rock Canyon School in St. George, Utah. Sequel Youth and Family Services has said it will close that facility to address problems identified by state regulators following an April 28 riot that left a number of teenagers injured, including one from Oregon. Five juveniles and one staffer are also facing charges in the brawl.
Facilities housing Oregon foster children in Utah and other states have come under scrutiny this year, with news outlets and state lawmakers raising questions about alleged neglect and abuse.
A tally of Oregon foster children placed in out-of-state facilities that is updated weekly showed the child welfare agency has assigned 61 children to live in such out-of-state centers. All but six of the Oregon foster children placed out of state are in facilities operated by Sequel.
Sequel’s Mountain Home Academy in Mountain Home, Utah, has the most, 15, followed by Red Rock, with 12, the state listing shows.