Letter to the Editor: the truth about Pine Meadows residential treatment center
My name is Jacob Barnett and I am licensed as a social service worker in the state of Utah. I worked for the Department of Child and Family Services for three and a half years which was where I met and became acquainted with Charlotte Williams. Charlotte contacted me several months ago with an idea to open a residential treatment center to help teenage girls with behavior problems in which she would employ me as her program manager. She told me that she was intending to take only private pay children which would give her greater flexibility in the admission process. She reported that she would not take any girls with criminal backgrounds, nor would she take any girls with multiple mental health diagnoses. This meant that her clients would largely consist of girls with basic behavior problems such as defiant behaviors, minor depression, and/or lack of responsibility.
Private pay children are very different that state adjudicated children in than state adjudicated children are more likely to have criminal backgrounds and multiple mental health diagnoses. It is my understanding that while Charlotte did seek a contract from the state of Utah to take state adjudicated children, that contract would be used as a last resort. Private pay children and state adjudicated children cannot be mixed in a treatment center. That means that as soon as one private pay child is admitted into the Pine Meadows RTC, it will always be a center for private pay children, and there are literally waiting lists of families who are planning on placing their children into private pay centers.
I moved here approximately 10 years ago and one thing that I recognized soon after moving here is this is a great place to raise children. Another thing I realized about this area after working at DCFS is that there is just as much crime and misdeeds committed by children and adults per capita in this area as there is in the more urban areas of the state. I believe that it all comes down to the supervision and active teaching and mentoring of correct principals and values to our children.
As program manager of Pine Meadows RTC, one of my main goals will be to actively teach and mentor those girls in the areas of personal accountability, responsibility, empathy toward others, and respect toward their elders and peers. This will be done through one on one teaching, group counseling sessions, and the staff living those principles and teaching through example. Charlotte and I will be looking for staff that will hold to the same principles and values and will love and care for the girls as I know that we will. These girls will have 24 hour supervision and constant interaction with a caring staff. They will not have access to public areas without staff with them. There will be one staff for every four girls at all times, which is more than what is required by the Department of Human of Human Services, the department of the state of Utah government that licenses and monitors the center.
This program is about reaching out to those in need, stepping outside our familiar zones, extending ourselves, and helping those girls by giving them a greater potential for success in their lives. For those citizens of Ferron that have expressed concerns, I ask you to recognize that your concerns have been answered several times through discussion at city meetings, and through letters written by Charlotte and myself. I also ask you to open up your hearts and realize that this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us living in this area to help some young girls get their lives back on track, which will provide them with a brighter future.