More claims: patients at a youth treatment facility forced to fight by staff members. We first brought you our Investigation into Piney Ridge weeks ago where a family says their daughter was forced to fight by staff.
DHS confirmed they are investigating.
Right after our original story on Piney Ridge, the phone calls came pouring in. Parents of kids in Piney Ridge, staff members who used to work there and other youth treatment facilities, and a woman who says what they called the “fight club” was going on when she was a patient seven years ago.
“My biggest thought as I was watching that was I should have spoke up sooner,” former Piney Ridge patient Isabella Cudmore says about when she watched our first report. “I should have said something sooner and maybe this little girl would not have to go through this.”
Isabella Cudmore was a patient at Piney Ridge for a year when she was sixteen. That was seven years ago.
“When a kid had an issue with another child, staff would make comments like ‘well why don’t you just fight it out? Why don’t you just get it over with?’ And then of course the children would do it,” Cudmore said.
Cudmore says she has turned her life around. She is a mom of 2-year-old nathan, a wife, and a step-mom.
“If it was my child going in there, I would want to know what was going on in that facility,” she said.
Piney Ridge maintains they can’t give us any information on any investigations. DHS confirms there have been other licensing investigations into Piney Ridge, but that any and all child maltreatment investigations are confidential.
“Unfortunately children in this state sometimes endure very horrific things and the last thing they would want to see is those horrific things out for public consumption,” Amy Webb from DHS said.
Even just a number of child maltreatment investigations could not be released because that would confirm they exist. They are a civil process. If they lead to a criminal investigation police would take over.
Past licensing investigations have led to facility employees being fired. But for DHS to shut down the facility it would be up to the Child Welfare Agency Review Board.
It’s what Cudmore wants to see after hearing what she witnessed is continuing seven years later.
“I just feel that that treatment facility isn’t a treatment facility it’s all. It’s more like a kid’s fighting ring and that’s how I feel about it.”
In order for a case to reach the child welfare agency review board findings from the licensing and child maltreatment investigations would have to be severe enough. Only one agency has closed down in the past ten years in Arkansas and that one didn’t even reach the review board.
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Our investigation launched after a family said their daughter was forced to fight by staff members at Piney Ridge. To see that story in it’s entirety click: