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Spokane Youth Treatment Facility may have license suspended after complaints over inappropriate employee behavior

Daybreak Youth Services, a teen mental health and addiction service provider in Spokane, may have its license suspended. A staff member is accused of behaving inappropriately toward underage patients and an administrator is accused of obstructing the state’s investigation into the issue.

The Washington State Department of Health started investigating Daybreak Youth Services in Spokane after complaints of inappropriate behavior between a skills coach and teenage girl patients.

According to the complaint, the employee asked patients for hugs, and talked to them about their bodies, and became confrontational when they told him no. He also allegedly bullied and slut shamed patients, such as making comments about their clothing.

The state’s investigator also alleges Daybreak interfered with the investigator’s attempts to interview staff and would not let her interview patients. She also alleges Daybreak withheld records.

The State Department of Health is seeking to suspend the providers license.

Tom Russell, CEO of Daybreak, says the employee who was subject to complaints has left the non-profit. He says Daybreak also addressed the behaviors.

“We took that complaint seriously, we have investigated that and the person in question was placed on a performance improvement plan, the performance improved and there were no further complaints.”

He says Daybreak also provided more than 2,000 pages of records and has attempted to clarify issues with the state.

In response to questions about whether Daybreak had blocked the state from interviewing patients, he said it was the organization’s responsibility to protect their records and that the state would need a court order to view them.

“Clients also have the right to, just as they have the right to control their records, they have the right to choose to be interviewed or not,” he said. “Quite frankly we feel we’re being bullied by the state of Washington, and if Daybreak goes away, the youths that we serve will die. It’s that simple.”

When asked if Daybreak had asked the clients or their parents’ permission for the state to interview them, or view their records, Russell said he did not know what had been communicated to them.

He says Daybreak will appeal the notice of suspension. He says if the Spokane location is shut down, there will be no publicly funded youth substance abuse treatment programs in the region.