S.B. 127 Human Services Program Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell (R–Distinct 7, Utah County), received a favorable recommendation in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Monday, February 8, 2021. The legislation increases transparency and proposes to end abusive practices in Utah’s congregate care programs.
“We recognize there are significant concerns with congregate care programs and as lawmakers, we take this issue seriously,” said Sen. McKell. “I am grateful for survivors like Paris Hilton who use their platform and voice to bring attention to an industry that desperately needs reform. As a state, we will take the necessary steps to increase transparency and safety to prevent further abuse.”
Paris Hilton, an advocate for Breaking Code Silence, an organization that seeks to raise awareness of and end abuse in treatment facilities, provided testimony during the committee meeting.
“I appreciate the opportunity to use my voice and testify before the Utah Senate about my time in youth residential treatment centers,’ said Paris Hilton. “It is so empowering to be back in Utah, advocating for change, after gathering with the survivor community in Provo only a few months ago. I hope sharing my experience helps inform parents and legislators and saves other children from the same trauma and abuse I, and so many others, endured. Thank you, Sen. McKell and the Utah Senate for shedding light on the Troubled Teen Industry. As a survivor, I am so proud to witness this moment in history as the Utah Senate takes necessary steps to protect youth in residential facilities.”
Sen. McKell has worked directly with the Utah Office of Licensing on this bill to enhance guardrails in congregate care programs.
After receiving a favorable recommendation, S.B. 127 unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate. Listen to the committee meeting here. Track the bill here.