Statement from Rock River Academy in Rockford, IL regarding elopements:
Rock River Academy is licensed as a child care facility in Illinois. Regulations from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services stipulate that a licensed child care facility is not a secure facility. Because licensed child care facilities are not secure facilities, adolescent residents will from time to time leave or elope from a treatment facility despite the best therapeutic efforts to prevent them. If residents want to leave, they cannot be forcibly detained unless staff determines they are a threat to themselves or another person. This behavior is manifest in adolescent facilities throughout Illinois. Its level of intensity is determined in large measure by deterrent procedures, geographic location and even seasonal factors. Furthermore, the State Fire Marshall prohibits doors from being locked and blocking egress from this facility, in case residents must evacuate during an emergency.
Under state law, Rock River residents are allowed to attend public schools. As dictated by school district administration, residents are under the complete and exclusive supervision of school authorities while attending classes. It must be noted that half of all this year's runaways occurred at public schools when residents were completely within the charge and control of public school employees. Year-to-date numbers show that 18 of 40 elopements occurred under the exclusive supervision of public schools.
Providing proper treatment to girls and young women is not a one-size-fits-all protocol. It demands rigorous diligence to devise the best possible treatment care programs that offer the most successful outcomes for residents. Rock River not only provides excellent treatment, it delivers positive results.
At the Rock River Child Care Facility, a new comprehensive action plan is in place to deter runaways. We regularly meet with our referral sources and most recently had a meeting with Dr. Chuck Redeker and Dr. Mark Ruehl from the Cook County Public Guardian's office to review these formalized efforts to reduce and prevent elopements of DCFS wards. Both were supportive of Rock River's efforts to implement action plans to reduce the risk of elopement. Since the plan was put in place in mid April, the number of elopements has decreased dramatically. The plan includes a performance improvement team and safety quality council which regularly meet to discuss new opportunities to enhance safety for residents and make recommendations to prevent elopements. Analysis of data from previous elopements is used to explore new and better ways to prevent them. For instance, more and better communication is provided during staff changes. Furthermore, additional staff training is provided which teaches clinical techniques that can be used to dissuade residents from leaving and to more proactively provide risk assessments of residents. Physical plant and environmental mechanisms, including egress routes, fencing and delayed locking systems, are also vigorously utilized.
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