CHILDREN IN STATE CARE: ENSURING THEIR PROTECTION AND SUPPORT
HEARING BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN, YOUTH AND
FAMILIES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NINETY-NINTH
CONGRESS SECOND EDITION
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, SEPTEMBER 25, 1986
STATEMENT OF PATRICIA HANGES, VOLUNTEER YOUTH
ADVOCATE, FRANCIS HOUSE, BALTIMORE, MD.
Ms. HANGES. You have to be getting short-circuited by now,
after hearing all these stories.
I think probably I totally
agree, and have seen everything these people have talked about. I
think my testimony is a little different in that I am totally a
volunteer. I accept no money at all for what I do.
in these children, and I believe there is hope. I don't want you
people, after you hear all these things, to think that there isn't
hope, because just in the last 3 years I have seen, through a lot of
advocacy efforts in the State of Maryland, individ- ual children that
have been saved by people getting involved.
I think that is kind
of what this country is all about -- not big Federal grants, and not
big State money, because, I am sorry, coming from where I come from,
these are God's children. I don't think the State has any business
even putting their hands on them.
My name is Pat Hanges; I am a
Franciscan lay volunteer. I am currently assigned to a juvenile
institution in the State of Mary- land, that is typical of what these
three beautiful people have de- scribed. I work in the capacity of
advocate for the children.
I go out and I give approximately15
speeches a month raising money to improve the childrens conditions in
this institution and to educate the community.
joining the Franciscan lay community -- so you decide whether you
think I have the credibility to speak or not -- I was a police major.
We set up a very, I think, a good youth division in Baltimore County
The prime purpose of our youth division, it was
very non-tradi- tional in the field of policing, it was not just to
arrest kids, but to keep them out of the juvenile justice system --
because I feel once a child or a family gets meshed in this system,
they never come out the same, and they never come out the better for
We had to overcome a lot of problems in setting up this unit.
The reason I am so hopeful, in Baltimore County in the State of Mary-
land, we were able to educate the community and to keep kids out
of places like Montrose and other State facilities.
many bureaucrats say, oh, the community wants these kids locked up; I
don't really believe that is true. I think the com- munity has not
been educated to keeping these kids in community based programs.
If they knew that it will cost $42,000 to warehouse a kid that
could be treated so much better in the community, for one-eighth
of that money, I think the community, even the ones that don't
like children -- and a lot of people in America don't, I am convinced
of that -- even they care what it costs to lock kids up, care about
their money. I think if the bureaucrats would only wise up and
start telling people what it costs, that maybe they might be doing
it for the wrong reason, but they would do it.
The amount of Federal money that is wasted in some of these
grants really gets to me, too, but that is another story I will come
back with at another time.
What I would like to share with you
today are my personal expe- riences working daily in the cottages,
directly with the children that are incarcerated at Montrose. I really
hope I can effectively convey to you -- because I almost didn't come
here today, I much rather work with the children than talk -- I would
like to convey to you their story. It is a story of hopelessness; and
it is a story of pain.
But most of all it is a plea for your
help to make the States straighten out the way they are treating these
children. For in spite of all they have been through, and in spite of
all we have done to these kids, they are probably the most beautiful
children that I will ever be privileged to work with.
sorry, I cry every time I talk about them, and I am sup- posed to be a
They all respond to genuine love, everyone of them.
I have been there 3 1/2 years and I have worked with hundreds of
children, and everyone of them responds to love, that is universal.
They don't deserve that kind of institution, and particularly for
the two kids that have died by hanging within the last three years,
they are children that have been robbed of their childhood.
want to tell you all something; they are my heart. I will keep working
with them as long as the Lord leaves me here on Earth.
I want to
tell you that I am overwhelmed by their needs, con- stantly frustrated
by a seemingly unmovable bureaucratic system. A system that is not
only costly in money, but in opinion, rips fam- ilies apart.
It shreds them of their very basic American rights to be treated
with love and with dignity. And every child born in the United
States should have that stamped on their birth certificate.
Our laws state in Maryland, that we are to treat these children
in the least restrictive environment and still protect the communi-
ty. Yet we lock up hundreds of children in Maryland every year,
Reports have been made, since I came to
Montrose and they have been made public, enough reports to wallpaper
the walls of this place. And maybe we should, because maybe somebody
would read them; I don't think anybody has read them yet.
of these reports say the same thing: A lot of these kids don't have to
be locked up; it is not cost-effective; we should be looking into
closing these large institutions, those not dangerous or making them
therapeutic models and we are not doing it. We haven't even began to
I was sent to Montrose 3 years ago under the authority of a
State grant written to study institutional abuses. I think the grant
was very poorly written. It came under the Department of Human Re-
sources, and they had a very hard time recruiting volunteers.
I can understand why after being in the institution almost 4
years. I was the only one who stayed -- and I think if it hadn't been
for my police background, I probably would have walked out the
door after the first week.
I quite honestly
must say, though, that the superintendent of the school gave me a wide
latitude. He let me go anyplace I wanted to go and never tried to hide
anything from me. Of course, as a result of all of the things that I
found out, the poor guy moved into an- other position; I always felt a
little twinge of guilt about that as he was a good man given nothing
to work with.
When I arrived at Montrose, evidence of neglect were
every- where. They were overcrowded, understaffed -- the same thing
you have heard over, and over again, and you will hear it 100 more
times -- badly in need of repair. It seemed to me, that virtually ev-
erybody in the institution had just given up. They had been ne-
glected in the budget process for years.
Let me describe for
you my first assignment at Sanford Cot- tage -- I am now in a cottage
with the real little ones -- but these boys are 13, 14, and 15.
Sanford needed everything, staff, furniture, recreational equipment;
it had nothing. The only thing Sanford had was a super-abundance of
Each crowded little cell was filled with two children. Many
of the mattresses smelled of urine, because a lot of these children
are bed- wetters and then they become even more frequent bedwetters
after they are locked in those kinds of places.
They all had
two badly-in-need-of-repair beds in one little cell. Overcrowding
escalated after the Department of Juvenile Services froze the purchase
of care money, to pay off some kind of deficit. I never found out what
the deficit was, but I knew children were being deprived of
placements, and they were just languishing in the institutions.
Conditions in Sanford, and throughout the institution -- and re-
member, I was in here every day, so nobody can tell me this didn't
exist, I saw it with my own eyes -- became what I consider inhu-
mane. After many complaints to the people in charge -- because now
I am Franciscan and not a cop, I am supposed to be a little
gentler--so it took me a long time to try to work through these
levels of bureaucracy; nothing was done.
In fact, the problem
escalated, children were sleeping on mat- tresses in halls, mattresses
in the gymnasium. These are troubled kids; these are not hard-core
delinquents at Montrose, I want to make that clear.
I sent you bears up what I am saying; I am not some bleeding heart; it
is in that report.
Six children were crammed into a small area in
Sanford cottage; in addition to all this crowding, the air in there
was so stale and so horrible. The boys were coming to me reporting
sexual abuse, and alleged sexual advances were increasing. Along with
attempted sui- cides.
I also went to social services -- after
I went through all the levels of bureaucracy and tried to move
everybody gently as I could -- I went to social services and asked
that a neglect report be made against the State of Maryland, because
when I was a cop, if parents treated their kids the way our State
treated those kids, I would have locked their butts up.
yet, the State of Maryland, which is a wealthy State, was treating our
children in this manner, and under the guise that we
were protecting them. Well, if that is protection, buddy, I hope
they never protect me like that.
Everyone was sympathetic, and
they would say, oh, yes, sure, right, that is horrible; but nothing
was done. In desperation I went to our legislatures in Annapolis; and
I went to our Lieutenant Gov- ernor; and, finally, I went to the news
media and we got a little action.
All the children were locked
in their cottages. When I first came into Sanford, I observed children
punished by putting them in their cells, what staff would call early
bed, in some cases as early as 6:30 at night. If you are emotionally
disturbed and you are in one of those rooms all that time, you are
going to go berserk; and they did.
When the children became
frustrated and acted out, as they call it, they were sent to
isolation, for very minor offenses. Early beds are no longer allowed;
but that is difficult to enforce. Unless you have someone, like
myself, that is not an employee, that doesn't have any allegiance to
the State, that is just going in there for the kids, to watch it, they
can still put those kids in those rooms.
I observed staff
ratio of 2 to 38. If you read that report, and find out what kind of
kids we have got at Montrose, we have got sick kids there. Two staff
people, that only need a GED -- our State low- ered the standard for
child-care workers a few years ago, when it should have raised it, it
lowered it. We have had two staff to 38 kids, and because of low
morale, and call-in, sometimes 1 to 38; and no one, no one, can handle
that. We do have some good staff.
The noise levels in those
cottages are deafening. It is at those times I am glad that I live in
a community. I can go home and there is no noise.
difficult to recruit good people; and you can understand why. For
these key position all that is required, like I said, is a GED. We
need trained child-care workers, but we are not getting them. At least
1-to-10 staff ratio.
Whether they were intentional or not,
everything was done to break the spirit of these children. Some
examples, they are told when they can come out their rooms to go to
the bathroom. Not allowed to speak when they eat.
occasions I have seen staff -- and, of course, if I was dealing with
30 to 38 kids for an 8-hour period, I guess I don't know what I would
do, so I try not to be too judgmental -- but making children stand
there for long periods of time when the kid was hopping because he had
to go to the bathroom.
Also, the staff would call "sit down" and
"stand up." I said, what in the heck does that mean; sit down, stand
up, when they were going to the bathroom? It simply meant they even
controlled that. The child was told when he could sit down and go to
the bath- room -- I work with all boys. I filed complaints on that;
that proce- dure is no longer allowed, and I don't observe it being
Absolutely no privacy. The children are made to ask for
their toilet paper -- if you can imagine being 11 and 12, and 13 and
going through this. Toothpaste is put on their toothbrushes; they
can't control that. They can't control any aspect of their life in the
insti- tution -- remember these are not hard-core delinquents.
Children were not allowed at this time to call
home. Since then, I have filed a complaint. They are allowed to call
home now. This is an important thing because many of these children
don't get visi- tors and that call home means a lot. There is constant
verbal abuse and intimidation by some staff, already testified to.
Some of these dehumanizing procedures have been stopped, but
they have only been stopped because there were advocates that went
into that institution and stayed and filed complaints and spoke out
for children that cannot speak out for themselves. News media coverage
Another problem area identified, and I had great
difficulty with, is an area they called a cottage but it was simply
old rooms over the administration building. They had approximately 30
children crammed in there.
The only reason that it closed was
1 day a staff tried to restrain a child and seriously dislocated his
shoulder. The child went with- out adequate medical treatment for a
couple of days.
When the mother arrived on visiting day, he
complained of in- tense pain. They took him to the hospital and he had
to have a very serious operation on his shoulder, because of the
neglect Gard- ner Cottage was closed.
When I went to Williams
Cottage the youngsters complained re- peatedly of a "pink room." I
just thought it was a room that was painted pink -- Ms. Guttridge's
boy died in that room. This was a year after her boy died, he was 12
One of the little boys I was taking home with me started to
cry and said, Ms. Pat, don't take me back, they put me in the pink
room; and I see that little boy's ghost.
I said, what in the
heck is the "pink room"? I moved over to Wil- liams Cottage and found
out what it was.
It was a room where, even after a child had hung
himself, could not possibly be supervised, all the way down the end of
the hall, smelled of urine and feces so bad that I had to hold my
breath when I went into it, in the summer months.
institution was still putting children in this room. This was a year
after the other child had died.
After many complaints, we did get
that room stopped from being used as a detention room. But I feel if I
hadn't gone there, they would still use that room. Because they did
not think it was wrong. You see, the whole philosophy of institutions
is control and pun- ishment; it is not rehabilitation.
it should be noted that Ms. Guttridge wanted her son. She visited him
every week. She constantly called -- that is the lady you are going to
hear from next -- she tried to help out in the institu- tion by
bringing other things for children that never got visitors.
point I want to make is we could spend approximately $40,000-some to
put her child in that institution, he was not a hard- core delinquent.
He could have been treated in the community for a fraction of that
cost, because we have a mother here to think she was going to get
help, and had she known what she was letting her son go into, he would
never have gone in there.
We had a second child -- and I carry his
picture with me all the time, every time I get discouraged because I
am broke and have no money, and I wonder how I am going to make it
day, I look at Troy Chapman --
Troy was 13 years old, and he died this year.
His twin brother
was also in Montrose. He was in the cottage next to ours and he also
tried to commit suicide. This mother also visited and ed for help, but
didn't get any.
I talked to Troy almost daily while he was at
Montrose, he was one of the boys in our cottage. He was very unhappy,
and he was sent to isolation almost every day he was there. He was 13
years old, and never had a happy day.
He would say, Ms. Pat,
please get me help, I know I am sick, I know I need help, I know they
keep telling me I am bad, but I need help. Troy never got that help.
A counselor and I took him to a regional institute -- which gets
three times the money Montrose gets, another State facility, alleg-
edly set up to help these children who have these kind of prob-
lems -- they turned Troy down. They said he was not acceptable for
And, of course, Montrose has to take anybody,
so he came back to us. The day he was killed, I was sitting in the
counselor's office waiting for Troy to come home from school -- I call
it home, back to us from the school -- and he never came back.
He sssaulted a teacher; he went to isolation. He said, if you put
me in that cell I will hang myself.
They put him in the cell
-- and in the cell were screens that the staff and I had asked them to
take off for about 6 months -- and he looped a noose through that
screen, and at 13 years old he hung in that isolation cell with people
all around, but he didn't get any help, till it was too late.
Before Troy Chapman died I held him in my arms at the hospi-
tal. I was there with his mother when they took the support system
off of him.
I want to tell you something; he didn't have to
We spent approximately $60,000 in the State of Maryland to
in- carcerate Troy and his brother for about a 6-month period, and we
couldn't begin to work with that mother, who was a single parent,
and she did not have a lot of money. As a result, Troy is dead.
Even after Troy's death, several incidents occurred that im-
pressed upon me the need for monitoring these institutions, and
maybe at a Federal level, as the first speaker said.
A 13 year
old was sent to our cottage from a mental health facili- ty. Now why a
mental health facility would send a kid to us anyhow, is unbelievable,
but let me tell you what happened.
It was obvious to me -- and I
am only a lay person -- this child was extremely emotionally
disturbed. Repeated attempts were made to get help for this
13-year-old boy, and we couldn't get any help, and Montrose couldn't
Each day he was in isolation. But on one particular
day -- this was after a child had hung himself, Troy, and her child
had hung himself, too -- we took him to isolation because it took
three of us to hold him down. He bit through his lip. He tried to bang
his head on the floor to kill himself, because he didn't want to live.
He put his arms through a bookcase and slashed up and down, both arms.
We took him over to the nurse -- the cottage manager and I, who
really cares about these kids -- and we said, don't put him in an iso-
lation cell. By then it was 8 o'clock -- you all
don't know me, but I am very determined, I was bound that kid was not
going to go back in that cottage -- so I said, you go one way, I will
go the other way, we are going to call every politician and every
lawyer we know, we are getting that kid out of here tonight.
The last thing I said and the cottage manager -- after two boys
had killed themselves, bear in mind -- don't put that child in an iso-
lation cell, he is suicidal -- as if they couldn't see that, but
unfortu- nately, some people don't see what we see -- we were gone no
more than 25 minutes. We pulled up on the parking lot with a court
order to get the kid out of there, and we heard this bang, bang,
We ran into the isolation unit, and here was this
13-year-old child, after he had been through everything I had
described to you, holding on to the isolation cell, locked in, banging
his head repeat- edly against that window and screen until it was
bloodied and black and blue.
I wonder how long he would have
beaten his head had I not come back with a cottage manager.
Because of the University of Maryland of Law clinical people,
who went to court with that child, that child is in a mental health
facility. But I still can't help but wonder what would have hap-
pened to him.
Two months ago an 11-year-old child from our
cottage was taken to isolation. He too, said, I will kill myself.
One of our security people -- our people have little training,
they need training desperately -- said to him, go ahead, that will be
one less little boy. And we almost did have one lees little boy,
because he tried it.
I could go on. You have already heard
enough out of me and ev- erybody about what goes on in these
institutions, but I think you have to know how helpless these kids
I don't know if Federal -- you guys, you ladies, and
gentlemen, excuse me -- can order our State to do something. You see,
I wish I was the President of the United States, because I will tell
you, their butts would get in gear quick; but I am not.
Montrose remains open it should be totally, programmatically changed.
You should order the States to make these places therapeutic
models, because at least if they are therapeutic models they cannot
overcrowd them, and they cannot become what they are today. It
must be properly funded; we have never gotten the funds we need to
work with these children -- although I can tell you some stories about
how some of the money you gave us was spent it was not done as
productively as possible.
Cottage level staff positions must be
upgraded, ongoing training given -- you are going to hear this same
thing over and over -- strong advocacy should be mandatory. If you are
going to give our State any money you ought to say, I am not giving
you any bucks, buddy, until you put strong advocates in those
I will tell you before you put them in, don't let
just Federal grant people -- let people like me help you write the
training program, be- cause you need guerrilla training to stay there.
Parental involvement, if you had parental
involvement a lot of kids would still be alive today, including her
son. We have legal re- views in the State of Maryland in that
institution for these kids, and nobody represents them, outside the
system except me, and I can't run around to 10 cottages, I would like
to, but I can't.
The parents are not involved in a legal review
that shapes their kid's life for the whole time they are going to be
here on earth, and a parent is not involved in that -- I am going to
file a complaint against that next week -- but that should be
I don't understand it, in America we were so family
oriented, or need to be more family oriented -- how we can get into
these crazy situations, where we just whip these kids out of the home,
throw them in a nuthouse like that and don't involve parents. You may
ask, as I do, how did we get into this mess?
I say everyday I
get up -- I live in a community -- so I say, hey, God, how did we get
into this mess? How could this happen in the United States we are so
rich, we have it all? How can we treat kids like this?
know what it is, it is much easier to remove these little characters
and put them in places like Montrose and continue to violate their
rights, because they are hidden from the community.
MILLER. We are going to have to go vote and then return for the rest
of your testimony.
MS. HANGES. I hope I didn't do that to you.
Chairman MILLER. You haven't driven us from the room. I sus-
pect your testimony is going to bring most of the members back to
We will be gone about 10 minutes; we will be right
MS. HANGES. You want me to wait, OK. I hope it is on funding
State funds for institutions.
MILLER. The committee will come to order.
Patricia, if you want to
sum up your testimony then well go ahead.
MS. HANGES. I was
almost wrapped up when you guys had to leave -- gentlemen and ladies,
excuse me; I am so used to working with boys.
OK, we will
The hard/cold facts that we have had to face at
Montrose is that the majority of our kids are neglected, abused, and
throwaways. These are youngsters who no one wants.
majority of our population are not hard-core delinquents. They are
kids, what we call -- I love the label -- CINS, Children in Need of
Supervision. There is a law in our State that says we are not to
incarcerate these kids. But how they get around that is they violate
I had one kid that was in there 6 months, little
11-year-old, 6 months, he never had a review, didn't even know who his
after- care worker was. He was in there for not going to school and
viola- tion of probation, for 6 months.
After several reports
and studies -- and we have had, as I told you before, all kinds of
studies -- the best one, Mary Anna Burt, who is sitting behind me did
-- they have been all completed, and there have been all kinds of
really good recommendations. As a result, I
to say, I have to give it, we are really trying harder than I have
ever seen try at Montrose, or in the State of Maryland.
challenge now is to develop models where these broken, little, wounded
people -- and that is what they are -- and I just wish you could see
them and hug them -- see, then you would really go to bat for them,
that is what it takes. They can become loving, well- adjusted adults,
but not in a place like that.
Just to finish up; when I was
praying this morning, I was trying to think how I could explain to you
the mixture of children. In many instances we care for kids that
nobody else wants to care for at Montrose; and we don't care for them
But if somebody else cared, they would not be in my
face. If somebody was willing to have them in homes, they would be in
homes. If Aunt Jane would come and take them out of our institu-
tion tomorrow, we could give them to Aunt Jane. But there aren't
any Aunt Janes to take our kids, the majority -- this was an excep-
If we had to develop therapeutic homes, they would be in
them, but we haven't. And if they hadn't messed up in a couple of
foster homes, because they were so badly wounded the foster parents
didn't know how to handle them, we wouldn't have them. These kids
don't come easy to care for. So let's take a look at caring.
fact is these kids are pretty broken. We have just got to put them
Troy Chapman -- the one that died -- this is his
picture. I would like you to see their faces, because they are not
statistics, they are little human beings.
When I came back to
the cottage that night to make sure all the other boys and staff were
OK -- because we have had two suicides in that cottage already, and
our kids are only 11, 12, and 13 in there, some of them, 9 -- one
little boy walked up to me tears streaming down his face, and he said,
Ms. Pat, why did Troy have to die? I said, because he was just too
wounded to be fixed here on earth. And that is how these kids are. We
have just got to pay to get their wounds fixed.
thank you for having the patience to listen to me. I am sure that is a
trial in itself, because I am a bit overbearing at times.
please, please pay attention to what I say, because I don't have any
axe to grind. I turned down jobs with the State because I consider it
immoral the way we handle children.
I don't want a paid job. I
enjoy working for my boss. So what I say is I just want to help these
I thank you.
Chairman MILLER. Thank you very much,
for your testimony here, and obviously for all of your work with the
Judy, thank you for coming this morning to talk with us.
Obvi- ously it has been difficult for you to sit through a lot of this
testi- mony, because a lot of it points right to the very tragic
problem that you encountered with your own family. But we really
appreci- ate you making this effort.
So, to the extent that
you can, you relax, and just proceed as you are most comfortable.
[A prepared statement by Patricia Hanges was also submitted]