The Prairie du Chien residential care center where a child was seriously injured is closing down.
The state Department of Children and Families revoked the license of Wyalusing Academy last month, saying the center had “failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of children in its care” after a June incident that left a child severely injured, then didn’t seek outside medical care for more than 24 hours afterward. But the company that operates the academy, Clinicare Corp., had appealed, and the center was allowed to stay open pending a decision in that appeal.
On Tuesday, Wyalusing Academy announced it was relinquishing its license as part of a settlement with the state. It said it would permanently close on Nov. 8.
“This is a difficult decision to make, but we appreciate the discussions we had with the Department of Children and Families regarding ongoing operations of Wyalusing Academy,” David Fritsch, president of Clinicare Corp., said in a statement.
The DCF said in a statement that its “first obligation is the safety of the children at Wyalusing Academy.”
The 45 residents at Wyalusing Academy will be relocated to other residential care facilities for children and adolescents, Fritsch said. And he said the company has contacted the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s rapid response team to help the center’s 144 employees find training and jobs.
“While this is difficult news for everyone involved, we are doing everything we can to assist residents and employees with making necessary transitions,” Fritsch said.
Clinicare operates two other residential care centers in Wisconsin, and the company said both of those facilities will remain open.
The department said it would work with Clinicare to ensure it relocates residents in a safe and orderly manner, and to make sure that conditions at Wyalusing are maintained during the closure process.
The DCF said final closure is dependent on the relocation of current residents, but is expected to be no later than Nov. 22.
The injured child’s age, gender and specific injuries have not been released. The academy has said it doesn’t comment on the medical conditions of residents, both because they are minors and in accordance with federal privacy rules.
Wyalusing Academy is a residential treatment center for children and adolescents who are lower functioning or significantly below grade level. It was licensed to accept those with emotional disorders, conduct disorders, behavior disorders, neurological impairment, aggressive behavior and other issues, its website said. Residents come from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and elsewhere. Most residents are placed by county human service departments, and some are diverted from jail facilities.
The child was reportedly injured after staffers performed a series of restraints at about 9 a.m. on June 24, according to DCF’s revocation letter, which said the center failed to provide the child with appropriate care, including medical evaluation, after the injury. It also said outside medical attention was not sought until more than 24 hours later.
The letter did not go into detail about the child’s injuries, and DCF has declined further comment.
It did find that there was evidence of medical neglect on the part of four current employees. It is unclear whether there is a criminal investigation into the incident.
DCF’s revocation letter also said Clinicare Corporation has a history of committing “numerous violations” of state codes for the regulation and licensing of residential care centers at the academy. Those include violations related to “supervision, child abuse and neglect, emergency safety interventions, and serious incident reporting.”