Gov signs bills to protect youth in residential treatment

MISSOULA (AP) — Montana’s governor has signed two bills aimed at protecting youth in residential treatment programs.
Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill Friday to move oversight of private residential treatment programs to the state health department rather than a board that includes treatment program owners. In late April, Bullock signed a bill making it illegal for staff at such programs to have sex with the teens they treat, even if they’re over 16 — the legal age of consent.
The Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs board had overseen the programs for a dozen years. A yearlong review by the Missoulian found the board did not hand down significant sanctions in any of 58 complaints made against such programs.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services still must set up standards of care for the private treatment programs.