Embattled program for troubled youth closes in Missouri

Associated Press
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (AP) — An embattled Missouri residential treatment program for troubled youth that started in 1832 as a home for orphans from the cholera epidemic has closed its doors as the federal government moves away from funding such facilities. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports  that the child welfare and behavioral health organization Great Circle closed the program in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Grove on Friday. 

Several former employees of the program have been accused of endangering clients. Among them is former CEO Vincent Hillyer, known by some in the industry as the dean of residential treatment in Missouri.

Great Circle, which relies heavily on government contracts, said it will continue to run four other residential treatment programs in Columbia, Marshall, Springfield and near St. James. But the firm, and others still in the field, face mounting pressure from a new federal law that cracks down on the use of residential treatment centers. 

Missouri has yet to publicly outline how these children will be served. Typically, about 10% of the 14,000 foster children in Missouri would end up in residential treatment at some point. They tend to be trauma victims who have already struggled to maintain placement in multiple foster or adoptive homes.