Gov. Spencer J. Cox held a ceremonial signing for S.B. 127 Human Services Program Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell on April 6, 2021. S.B. 127 increases transparency in Utah’s congregate care facilities.
“It’s been 15 years since the state last reformed standards for licensed youth facilities,” said Gov. Cox. “While these facilities provide critical services and resources to families, we must always ensure the safety of participants and hold bad actors accountable. I am grateful to the bill sponsors, industry leaders and individuals that came together to support this legislation.”
“Signing S.B. 127 into law is a great first step towards creating safe environments in residential treatment centers,” said Sen. McKell. “Working with survivors to craft this legislation has been a privilege. Their stories revealed the need for positive reform in the industry, and guided us toward regulations that will protect youth. I am grateful for their bravery and courage in sharing their personal experiences and the opportunity I had to be part of such impactful change.”
Paris Hilton and Caroline Lorson, advocates for Breaking Code Silence, attended the ceremonial signing along with other individuals who experienced mistreatment in Utah congregate care facilities. Breaking Code Silence is an organization that seeks to raise awareness and end abuse in the troubled teen industry.
“I’m grateful for Utah leaders, who not only gave me the space to share my personal experience, but took the necessary action to prevent further mistreatment,” said Paris Hilton. “Listening to the stories of other survivors and returning to Utah has been empowering. I hope moving forward Utah stands as an example to other states as we continue to push for congregate care reform throughout the country and at the federal level.”
Lawmakers worked directly with the Utah Office of Licensing on S.B. 127 to enhance guardrails in congregate care programs. Treatment centers will be regulated and monitored by the Office of Licensing.