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October 08, 2015

Pa. youth mental health facility ordered shut amid sexual abuse allegations

Glade Run Lutheran Services in Butler County must shut down in 30 days after DHS revokes license

Investigation Child Care
100815_Glade Run Glade Run Lutheran Services/

Glade Run Lutheran Services in Zelienople, which has served children with mental conditions including autism for 161 years, has lost its license following an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced Thursday it will revoke the license of Zelienople-based Glade Run Lutheran Services amid allegations of child sexual abuse and other employee misconduct within the organization.

The residential treatment facility, licensed by DHS to serve adolescents and children diagnosed with mental health conditions, has been ordered to shut down within 30 days in order to ensure transitions for the kids currently under its care, according to a news release.

Allegations of sexual abuse at the 56-bed Butler County facility surfaced via the ChildLine program, prompting DHS to conduct joint investigations with law enforcement.

"Our number one priority must always be the health and safety of the children that we serve," said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. "We will never hesitate to act when child safety is at risk and today's actions are a reminder that we must always remain vigilant."

DHS said other violations found during the investigation include inadequate supervision of children, failure to report missing children, insufficient staffing levels and staff members sleeping during their shifts. The facility also failed to properly implement several policies and procedures, DHS said.

Children are admitted to facilities like Glade Run when it is determined that they can no longer function safely in the family or community setting. 

The Rev. Dr. Charles T. Lockwood, president of the 161-year-old Glade Run Lutheran Services, wrote a letter to families of children at the facility following the DHS decision. Lockwood announced Glade Run's intention to appeal the revocation of its license. 

Yesterday we were notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services of its decision to revoke one of our four RTF licenses. We have been given the opportunity to appeal this decision through a hearing process. We have submitted our intention to do so and have retained legal counsel to assist us. We fully intend to fight this decision, knowing firsthand of the thousands of successes Glade Run’s RTF program has to its credit and of the extreme need in our communities for this level of treatment. The program is successful- over 90% of youth are discharged to less restrictive settings.

The facility plans to communicate regularly with parents throughout the appeal and transition process. Three other child residential facilities on the same campus will retain their licenses.