The Imprint Wins Impact In Journalism Award For Investigation Into Abusive Residential Facilities

LOS ANGELES - April 19, 2021 - PRLog -- The Imprint, a nonprofit news outlet covering child welfare and juvenile justice, won the 2020 Impact in Journalism Award from the Sacramento Press Club for its joint investigation with The San Francisco Chronicle into ( California's use of abusive out-of-state facilities to house youth in foster care and on probation.

The story, "Far from Home, Far from Safe," ( revealed that the private company Sequel Youth & Family Services had skirted California laws prohibiting for-profit companies from treating the state's children, laws put in place to prevent profits from overtaking the quality of care.

The months-long investigation began when reporters at The Imprint and The San Francisco Chronicle each received tips that the California governor had ordered an emergency evacuation of the state's youth from Lakeside Academy, one of several campuses across the country run by Sequel.

Three weeks after the reporters sent the California Department of Social Services a thorough memo outlining their findings, the agency announced it would decertify all out-of-state residential treatment programs and bring 116 children back ( to California to receive treatment closer to home.

Shortly thereafter, state lawmakers approved $8.1 million ( for counties to find living arrangements for the returning children, and Gov. Gavin Newsom added $5.8 million to his proposed 2021-22 budget to continue supporting their transition back to California. Lawmakers are now looking at ways to develop a wider array ( of therapeutic programs for foster youth in-state.

To date, the reporting by The Imprint and The San Francisco Chronicle has resulted in the return home of 133 youth from unsafe facilities, and three of Sequel's residential campuses have closed, including its flagship Clarinda Academy in Iowa.

"It is an honor to play a role in shedding light on this critical issue and see policy shift as a result," said Sara Tiano, reporter for The Imprint. "I'm grateful to the Sacramento Press Club for recognizing the work, and most importantly, to the courageous young people who share their stories with us in hopes of making things better for others — we couldn't do this without their strong voices."

John Kelly
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