Last week the Associated Press carried a story about two Pennsylvania judges accused of gross misconduct in their handling of juvenile cases. Essentially, the judges are accused of taking kickbacks from local juvenile “lockups.” That same day the Salt Lake Tribune reported a Congressional panel has approved a bill that would boost federal regulations on residential programs for troubled teens, including wilderness programs.

Which leads to the question, just how should you pick a program for your child and who should have authority to monitor that program?

As one parent put it, “Everything looks good on the Internet.” Websites alone aren’t enough to make a good choice. Educational consultants who visit programs and understand therapeutic approaches can be a trusted resource.  But another parent shared this advice: “Visit the program. Talk to the kids. Talk to the staff. Ask yourself if it feels right for your child.”

Congress is certain to continue the push to mandate and regulate. In Utah, RedCliff has led the effort to develop effective state regulation that demands program accountability and protects children and providers. The RedCliff staff and the State of Utah have worked together for years to fine tune an effective regulation strategy.  Parents, children, and programs will be best served by this type of localized approach.

Regardless of what happens in Washington, this is an important discussion parents must have with the providers of programs they are considering.