Opinions differ on mainland placement for Hawaii's troubled teens

Published: Feb. 13, 2015 at 11:15 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2015 at 12:11 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

The Office of Youth Services sent Chantel de Jetley to a mainland program for troubled girls. Her parents said it was without their permission.

"Both her mother and I said, 'No! We do not agree to this transfer. We do not want our daughter crossing state lines,'" Tony de Jetley told Hawaii News Now.

Youth advocate Kathryn Xian is behind Senate Bill 274. The proposal requires parental consent before the state commits any teenager to the mainland.

"Youth should ideally never be transported out of state for any reason, be it incarceration or for care," she said.

Attorney Eric Seitz believes in parental consent but also feels the state shouldn't drag its feet when deciding whether to send a youth away.

"I have a couple of cases pending still now where that happened, and one of those children committed suicide because he wasn't put in an appropriate care facility," he said.

Right now 25 Hawaii youngsters are in mainland treatment centers. The average cost for each is $380 a day. The state contracts with 14 mainland residential facilities for youth placements. Xian believes the youngsters can receive adequate mental health and rehabilitation services in Hawaii.

"Unless there's a need for rehabilitating a child for being sex trafficked, there really is few to none, as far as the reasoning, for sending a child out-of-state for care," she said.

But Seitz said the state doesn't have a secure treatment facility, and wavering on transferring a youth jeopardizes their rehabilitation.

"Once they make that decision, they can't delay," he said. "They've got to follow through because if a child has a diagnosis and needs a placement on the mainland, there shouldn't be any hesitation to send a child. And money shouldn't be a factor."

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