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Serpa lauds DCYF ending ties with Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative

Representative Patricia A. Serpa.
Representative Patricia A. Serpa.

STATE HOUSE — Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight, said she was relieved that the Department of Children, Youth and Families decided to stop doing business with the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative.

The group home came under fire after an investigation by Child Advocate Jennifer Griffith.

“While I’m gratified that the director of DCYF has seen fit to stop doing business with the collaborative, I just wish it had been done before the Oversight Committee began to investigate,” said Representative Serpa. “After hearing the report of the horrible criminal activities taking place at this home, I was shocked and horrified that we hadn’t cut our ties immediately.”

DCYF Director Trista Piccola canceled the state’s contract with the group home last week in the wake of an Oversight Committee meeting where several representatives questioned why Rhode Island was still doing business with the collaborative.

Director Piccola had told the committee that she had given Blackstone Valley until the end of the month to correct the deficiencies out of fairness.

“The safety and well-being of our youth is of the utmost importance. When we learn of incidents or concerns involving institutional care providers, or anyone who is charged with the care of children and youth in our state, we investigate and take action. We also expect our providers to do the right thing by our children and youth, day in and day out,” said Director Piccola in a statement issued last week.

During the meeting, Griffith reviewed an investigation into the group home that led to a report recommending state welfare officials stop placements to the facility.

According to Griffith’s report, Blackstone Valley failed to report drug and alcohol abuse and violence by residents. She also reported that the group home uses banned aversion therapy, and that the cooperative neglected to monitor residents and provided false documents.

The report found at least one resident who was not receiving necessary sexual offender treatment and staff members often slept or watched television, leaving residents unattended.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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