Turnabout Brian Pope
Allegations against Northwest Children’s Home lack merit
Several important points need to be made in reference to the state of Idaho’s licensing evaluation of Northwest Children’s Home (NCH) and the Lewiston Tribune’s subsequent reporting of that evaluation.
First, the licensing agent’s report refers several times to a “rape” occurring at NCH. Likewise, the Tribune’s headline cites “rapes” happening at NCH.
What led to these misleading claims was a single incident in which two residents ran away from NCH property. Upon returning, one resident claimed the other had sexually assaulted him. NCH immediately reported the incident to the police. It remains an unproven accusation.
For the licensing agent to characterize this allegation repeatedly as a rape – and for the Tribune to blare in a headline that “rapes” occur at NCH – is misleading. In doing so, both unfairly and improperly transformed allegations into proven facts.
We note that in 2014, Idaho’s licensing agent directed NCH not to detain residents from leaving the facility unless they present “imminent danger to self or others.” This, of course, creates a classic Catch-22 whereby NCH, or any similar agency, can be blamed no matter what action is taken or what the eventual result. Thus, the state can blame NCH if children run away (and for what happens while they are offsite) or for preventing them from doing so.
Next, Marty Trillhaase in his “Cheers and Jeers” column accuses NCH of “blaming the messengers,” implying that a state licensing agent could never be overzealous, biased or unfair. Anyone who has dealt with government investigators knows that this is not so. Ask any small business owner.
NCH is not looking to hide anything; rather, it asked state licensing to send additional evaluators and conduct further, more extensive assessments. Licensing denied the request.
NCH has for more than a century served as a non-profit agency striving to help kids who are victims of severe, ongoing neglect and abuse. Too often, these children are viewed by the general public simply in the abstract as “disadvantaged,” “at risk” or “emotionally disturbed.” To actually read a resident’s case history makes the abstract a reality, as one sees the litany of severe criminal neglect and physical, emotional and sexual abuse inflicted, usually at the hands of those who were supposed to love, care for and protect these children – parents, relatives and other “caregivers.”
NCH is charged with taking care of the most difficult youth populations in the Northwest.
So treatment is challenging, difficult for all concerned and fraught with setbacks. But definitely at all times, it is worth our best efforts.
NCH is not always perfect and successful in treating these children; no program anywhere can claim that. But our efforts are sincere, committed and ongoing.
We are appreciative of the community for its care and concern regarding these troubled youth, shown by its ongoing support of our programs over the years.
We plan to continue to earn and deserve that kind of positive support. We do regularly conduct open houses, and plan to increase those events. In addition, community members are always welcome to schedule an appointment and, while respecting the residents’ confidentiality, come to campus, have a tour and see firsthand our program and how it works.
Meanwhile, we will continue to strive to make any and all improvements we can, take corrective action in any areas that warrant it, and work hard to be a positive member in a community that is a strong and loyal supporter of our mission.
Most importantly, we will strive every day to best serve the population we are here for: those severely damaged and disadvantaged kids who deserve some help in a world that has so drastically stacked the odds against them.
Pope is CEO of the Northwest Children’s Home.
Brian Pope, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer
If you need immediate assistance, please call me on my cell: 208-413-4403