Highfields to lose Ingham County contract

By: Nick LaFave
By: Nick LaFave

Recent allegations of abuse prompted Ingham County Family Courts to pull 18 kids from Highfields earlier in the week. After hearing that judges had no plans to send kids there in the future, the Ingham County Board of Commissioners is left with no choice but to suspend their contract with the youth rehab facility indefinitely.

Travis Faulds, Director of Juvenile Services for Ingham County, says trust and faith in Highfields was lost when they discovered 13 allegations of some form of misconduct, abuse of license violations the facility never willingly brought to their attention. Seven of which were substantiated as some form of violation... three, he says, involved physical or verbal abuse.

Highfields president Jim Hines told the Ingham County Judiciary Committee Ingham County was never contacted because none of the kids involved in any of the 13 incidents were from Ingham County.

Faulds says thats not good enough. He says any time violations occur where Ingham County kids are, they want to know about it.

County Commissioner and Judiciary Chair Tina Grant says the judges made the decision for them. If the judges don't send kids to the Highfields Youth Camp, Ingham County can't legally continue to pay them.

This is an 'indefinite suspension' of the contract (which has been verbal and month to month since 2004). County Chair Victor Celentino says should things improve between the courts and Highfields, they could revisit possible contracts.

Hines says he would do whatever possible to reestablish that trust. But, the courts says 'drastic changes would have to be made.' They are also awaiting the results of three separate investigations of alleged abuse at Highfields. Results, Grant says she would have preferred to have seen BEFORE deciding to cancel a contract with a long-standing and local service provider.


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