August, 18 2018

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Florida Drug Treatment Program Shut Down

Dozens of troubled teens were forced out of a Hollywood residential treatment program after the Department of Children and Families ordered the place to shut down.

DCF shut down the residential drug treatment program at The Starting Place in Hollywood.

Authorities said it all stems from a police investigation, but no one with the police or DCF would give clear details on why the program was closing its doors.

"I think it's sad how this whole situation is being handled," said parent Denise Magnone.

Forty-five clients of the program will be displaced by the closing.

"The fact that innocent people, staff and clients are losing their jobs and their therapy over this is just injustice," said Starting Place client Daniel Baker.

The Starting Place began in 1970, and has thousands of success stories.

"Literally, I do now know if I would be here if it wasn't for them," Baker said.

DCF revoked The Starting Place's license to run residential and day treatment substance abuse programs, but didn't say exactly why.

Bill Janes of DCF flew in from Tallahassee to evaluate the situation.

"The particular investigation that prompted my travel here, I cannot talk about," Janes said. "I didn't feel comfortable that we could go ahead at the level of performance that would be required."

Parents said police are investigating accusations of sex between staff and clients.

"Apparently there's allegations of sexual misconduct that happened maybe in November," said parent Gary Stryder.

Marcelious Alexander was the program director at The Starting Place. He and dozens of others will lose their jobs.

"I think, personally, that they pulled the plug too quick," Alexander said. "Bottom line is the kids lose out."

Parents said they agree with Alexander.

"This could've been saved," Stryder said. "This is a great place to spend your tax dollars. It's better than putting it into the jails, that's for sure, where a lot of these kids could end up if they're not having these kinds of programs. This is our future, and we're throwing it to the curb."

DCF promised that it will find alternative treatment programs for every client who was displaced by the move.

The Starting Place can apply to the state for reinstatement in one year.

Related Articles:
Ohio Teen Sentenced to Residential Treatment Center 2/8/08
Indiana's Vision of Hope, a Place for Troubled Girls 2/8/08
Sunny Hills Residential Center Closes Doors in California 5/5/08
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Ex-director of Montana's Swan Valley Youth Academy director seeks to prove innocence 2/3/08
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Climbing Higher to Help Troubled Teens in Indiana 1/26/08
Funding Shortages Close California Shelters for Runaway Teens 1/24/08
Illinois Program for Troubled Youth Loses Funding 1/23/08

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