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Psychiatr Serv. 2007 Jul;58(7):991-8.

A national survey of state licensing, regulating, and monitoring of residential facilities for children with mental illness.

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Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 Choke Cherry Rd., Room 6-1065, Rockville, MD 20857, USA.



Little national information is available to help policy makers understand the methods that states use to regulate residential facilities for children with mental illness. This article describes the results of a government-sponsored survey of state officials that examined how states license, regulate, and monitor such facilities.


Questionnaires were mailed to selected officials in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, followed by extensive telephone and e-mail contacts. Questionnaire items covered program characteristics, licensing and accreditation, mandated services, monitoring and oversight methods, and payment sources.


Information was gathered on 71 types of residential facilities in 38 states, accounting for 3,628 separate residential facilities with 50,507 beds as of September 30, 2003. States differed widely in the types of residential facilities that they regulate and their mix of regulatory methods, which included requirements for announced and unannounced visits, mandated staff-to-client ratios, minimum levels of education for facility directors, specifications for licensing practices and critical incident reporting, mandated complaint review procedures, and accreditation from designated organizations. Welfare, mental health, and health departments all participated in regulating facilities.


States relied on at least several regulatory methods, but no state used all of the possible methods. The regulatory environment is complex in most states because several agencies are involved in licensing, regulating, and reviewing complaints. To ensure that residential facilities effectively address the needs of children with mental illness and their families, policy makers should review and improve their state's data on methods for regulating residential facilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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