Ron Clem
Letter To Montana PAARP Board

October 15, 2007

Dear PAARP Board,

I just received the information that Paul Clark requested be circulated to all participants in the PAARP process. As is so often true with government agencies, this report is taken as absolute truth and fact even though they prefaced their report that abuse cases and reports were accessed mostly via internet. I welcome dialogue concerning private or public schools concerning the safety of our children, however potential knee jerk reaction to a report obviously lacking in substantive fact creates concerns for me as a parent. First, let me say, my daughter attended a wilderness program called SUWS in Gooding, Idaho. It was an absolute positive experience for us as parents and for our daughter. Medical personnel were always available as well as mental health professionals. Additionally, my daughter attended a behavioral modification program outside of the United States primarily because most U.S. private schools would not accept her due to her prior suicide attempts and Meth use. When criticism is offered without alternate solutions I have to question the motive and responsibility of the agencies involved. Montana and other states offered no recourse for our family and fortunately due to diligence on the part of my wife and our educational consultant we were blessed to find established schools with valued programs.

Teens in Crisis has worked with families with crisis children for over six years. In 2001 a single mother came to our group with a 15 year old daughter that was addicted to Meth. She was injecting, running away from home, spent more time with her 34 year old drug dealer than at school, and refused to adhere to any standards of behavior established by her mother. The mother had a younger child in the home and was working full time and knew her daughter's life was in jeopardy. We did not have money to help at that time and after a few months the mother quit coming to our group. We later saw her at a market during one of our fund raising efforts and learned her daughter had died of an over dose. Montana had nothing to offer this mother, as is true for most of the other states. Essentially, unless her daughter was arrested there was no help. I wish this was an anomaly but over the course of working with families with children in crisis behaviors, this is all too often the case for families without financial resources.

Last month Teens in Crisis distributed over $17,000.00 to programs to assist families with tuition, counseling and intervention. One young girl had run away to a large city, prostituting herself to pay for drugs and transportation. She was finally rescued, through efforts of Teens in Crisis, from her association with a violent black street gang called the Crips. Neither Montana or Washington State authorities were willing to help these parents in saving their drug addicted daughter. Would the licensing policies and procedures we are adopting have helped save this child or will they create a barrier, hindering her access to treatment.

Teens in Crisis position is simple. We want safe and successful programs for our children. We want programs that are located in Montana to be willing and able to help Montana families. We don't want an invasive and overly regulated licensing procedure that drives up costs that would prevent desperate families from saving their children. Children's rights while attending a treatment or residential school mean nothing to a family if they cannot even get their child into a program in the first place due to over zealous government intrusion or bureaucracy.

When families finally are faced with making a decision to save their children, their actions most often need to be immediate. The procedure for admittance needs to be simple, concise, and understandable. Please don't muddle the waters with scare tactic inferences, internet hearsay, or pious "bleeding heart" motivations. It is our children's lives that are at stake.


Ron Clem
Kalispell, Montana

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