Residential Facilities: Improved Data and Enhanced Oversight Would Help Safeguard the Well-Being of Youth with Behavioral and Emotional Challenges

The number of state-reported fatalities of youth in residential facilities, by agency and facility type.

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Federal investigations have identified maltreatment and civil rights abuses in residential youth facilities. This report, based on a recent Web-based survey by the GAO of the child welfare, health/mental health and juvenile justice agencies in each state, provides information on the nature of such incidents, the efficacy of states’ licensing and monitoring of residential facilities, and state accountability for the well-being of youth in the facilities.

Twenty-eight survey respondents reported at least one death in 2006. National data submitted by states to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that 34 states reported 1,503 incidents of abuse and neglect of youth by facility staff members in 2005, but state barriers to collecting and reporting facility-level information lead the GAO to believe those number are understated. Free, 95 pages. (202) 512-7215,

The responses of the 44 child welfare agencies, 45 health and mental health agencies, and 44 juvenile justice agencies that completed the surveys are available at


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