THE STATE OF GEORGIA'S DFCS/ORCC/DHR/DHS//DJJ records indicate that DFCS places children/youths that are diagnosed with severe mental health disorders and violent adjudicated youths from different Georgia counties to Ridge Creek, Inc., Ridge Creek School and/or its affiliate entities; youth that are inappropriately placed in violation of ORCC regulations, and Ridge Creek Inc.’s own admissions policies. Obviously, it is not just this facility.
ORCC Survey reports and ACTS findings indicate the ORCC inconsistently cites Ridge Creek, Inc. for accepting youths inappropriate to their own admission policy and the ORCC regulations. It is horrid enough that out-of-state judges and educational consultants sanction placement of violent, adjudicated youths, but DFCS? Should not the ORCC be citing DFCS? Wherein lays the accountability? Is it possible that DFCS mistakenly assumes Ridge Creek, Inc. and its affiliate entities retain a PRTF(Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility) license or RTF (Residential Treatment Facility) license? Would DFCS not check? Of course not.
According to DFCS on the date this article was written, “DFCS has no contract with Ridge Creek, Inc.” DFCS states “waivers are used” in lieu of contracts. Apparently, over all these years, the ORCC and DFCS did not feel they held an ethical or fiduciary responsibility to ensure that private pay parents/guardians of Special Needs children deserved to be advised that suicidal, violent, adjudicated youth were/are being placed at Ridge Creek, Inc. and /or its affiliate entities; or any other CCI or OCCP in Georgia. “It is not within our scope,” they decry. “We cannot control the facilities marketing fraud, call the better business bureau.” Heck, half the time the ORCC, DFCS, and the DJJ don’t even know exactly which program they are dealing with. “Riverdance” indeed.
Need for change as the below has led to horrific, unnecessary consequences.
- ORCC has not mandated in its regulations that private pay parents of innocent, non-violent, Special Needs, non-adjudicated children will not be co-mingled with violent youths placed by DFCS, or other agencies - both instate and out-of-state. This does not work and is a recipe for disaster - one that is apparent over years at Ridge Creek School. Change is needed.
- Ridge Creek, Inc. and its affiliate entity programs market themselves as a CCI and OCCP licensed by the ORCC. In actuality Ridge Creek, Inc, and its affiliates operate as an unlicensed RTF, PRTF, and/or Youth Camp. The ORCC knows this, DFCS knows this, the DJJ knows this, and if the agencies do not, or it is beyond the agencies scope, that in itself, is egregious. Other facilities follow suit; consequences and accountability is needed for all concerned and not just pertaining to the facilities. Allowing this carte blanche mentality amongst the agencies, along with these facilities, is deadly.
- Liability Insurance – Although facilities like Ridge Creek School admit at risk youth through DFCS, the DJJ, and other private third parties, the ORCC does not require Liability Insurance. Even Daycare providers must have insurance. Change is needed.
AGENCY RECORDS - DISCONCERTING UPDATE:
In August of 2006, the ORS under Director Keith Bostick, cited Ridge Creek Wilderness with 31 violations, 13 of which were repeat violations, and the ORS verbally reported there was adverse action upon the facility - a laughable $299.00 fine. An Open Records Request was placed in 2011 to ascertain whether there really was adverse action and a fine instituted. Much ado, stalling…then, “all 2006 records were purged.” A document surfaces, apparently not purged, noted as 08/16/06 investigation of Ridge Creek Wilderness(OTP) with a fine denoted in the tiny heading (response to the Open Record Request). Empty boxes, no date stamp, no record stamp, no identifying marks on the front or back page and in a discreet little box on the back page under “Legal Notes” in minute print:
“1/5/07 – ORS Director’s decision to not proceed with adverse action due to time delay and facility correction of deficiencies prior to the visit.”
Really? Prior to what visit? Date? Corrections? After 08/16/06, there were no violations? How about “The Chalet?” Now, “a Tavern.” That is for another story and it is a doozie.
Mr. Keith Bostick is now with DFCS.
DJJ RECORDS UPDATE:
· Another DJJ contract and application has miraculously appeared from 2008, clearly stating by Ridge Creek, Inc. that Ridge Creek, Inc. was the corporate entity under which Creekside Wilderness would be the operating program. Since 2009, the ORCC and the DJJ emphatically stated they never heard of Creekside Wilderness. The program was not licensed, yet youths were sent there under Ridge Creek, Inc.which is the corporate veil. Then ORCC Director Dave Statton chose not to address Creekside Wilderness in an email, nor was there an effective answer given during our conference call. During which, someone from the ORCC chimes in “are you talking about 2009?” ORCC stated that the programs themselves must be a CCI for a DJJ contract, and vice versa, not the corporation. RCW, RCS, and RC-MB were all shockingly licensed, not Creekside Wilderness Academy.
FACTS ABOUT CREEKSIDE WILDERNESS ACADEMY:
The existence of Creekside Wilderness since its inception, obviously only on paper, was presented to the Northern District of Georgia Bankruptcy Court, documented on the DJJ applications, and contracts in 2008 and 2009, yet nary a soul in the state agencies acknowledge that Creekside Wilderness existed. If in 2009 any of the aforementioned agencies gave a hoot, their fingers could have tapped their way through “Google” to the “Creekside Wilderness Academy” website. Instead, it was easier to give parents, advocates, and children the finger. For years, all agencies circumvented the truth regarding placement of adjudicated youth; it was not just Ridge Creek, Inc., formerly Hidden Lake Academy, Inc. skewing the truth.
THE EMBARRASSMENT "IN A NUTSHELL."
It just gets better. According to documents, DFCS places inappropriate children to either Ridge Creek School, Ridge Creek Wilderness, Ridge Creek-Mountain Brook, Creekside Wilderness, all under corporate Ridge Creek, Inc.(same compound). The ORCC comes in and cites Ridge Creek Inc.’s affiliate programs (inconsistently and rarely) for admitting inappropriate children and violating Ridge Creek’s own admission policies, and the ORCC regulations. Now it makes sense not to violate Ridge Creek, Inc. for ALL admission policy violations, because in truth, DFCS is one of the agencies that apparently placed the inappropriate youths at the facility.
The agencies and their Directors have no worry as their carte blanche is abused. Their salvation is “sovereign immunity,” which means no accountability. Emails and letters spanning 10 years, conflict, avoid, and placate. We must laud these efforts. Their containment makes Vegas look tame.
The ORCC and DFCS mission is to protect the children. The agencies have repeatedly enabled and protected the perpetrator, themselves, and not the citizens. Salvation? Who will step up for “the children left behind?” Obviously, it is not the ORCC or DFCS. Cite their own agency? Get real.
Ridge Creek School may best Stephen King, but this Georgia agency debacle makes “Conspiracy Theory” look like a stroll in the park.
And that’s my take.