Gov Noem wants youth treatment facility reforms

(Pexels/MGN)

PIERRE, S.D. (KSFY) - Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered the state Department of Social Services to enact a series of wide-ranging reforms intended to improve the safety of youths sent to privately run treatment facilities across South Dakota.

The governor’s announcement came in response to an investigative report published June 5 by South Dakota News Watch that uncovered a decade-long pattern of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of youths at Aurora Plains Academy, a privately run, government-funded intensive residential treatment facility in Plankinton.

See related story Governor to enact reform of youth treatment facilities

“As a mom, it deeply saddens me to read the stories of these kids. Regardless of whether a situation happened 10 years ago, 10 months ago or 10 days ago, abuse is never OK,” the governor wrote in a statement to News Watch.

In an earlier email to News Watch, Noem wrote that improvements were required and have been implemented at the Black Hills Children’s Home in Rockerville.

Authorities are still searching for Serenity Dennard, who was 9 when she ran away from the Children's Home in February.