LAKE VILLA, Ill. — A review of three years of police reports involving an Illinois youth facility where a teen died after being put in a chokehold shows staff physically restrained children dozens of times.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/2dkC1tB ) reviewed the police reports from the Allendale Association in Lake Villa, finding some instances resulting in injuries to children. Two employees face charges after 16-year-old Shaquan Allen died at the center in March when he was placed in a chokehold.
Allendale’s Lake Villa residential treatment program and facility has about 150 beds where children and young adults are grouped by age from 7 to 21 and their social and emotional functioning level. The state stopped sending wards to Allendale for six months earlier this year. The restriction was lifted Thursday and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has 35 youths at Allendale’s Lake Villa facility now, the newspaper reported.
DCFS Director George H. Sheldon said his department is still involved at Allendale even though the six-month restriction is over.
“We will continue ongoing monitoring to make sure nothing slips,” Sheldon said.
Allendale President Mary Shahbazian said physical restraint is “a last resort when other de-escalation techniques have failed.” She said the facility is a safe place for children and restraint is only used to maintain safety. She said a plan was started in May 2014 to reduce the use of restraints.
Lake Villa police responded to 576 calls at Allendale from Jan. 1, 2013, to Sept. 7, 2016, according to reports, which range from finding runaways to batteries, arson and sexual assault. Of the 150 most serious reports, 34 stated that Allendale staff physically restrained clients, and some were injured. Injuries included a broken arm or shoulder separation, neck bruises, teeth knocked out and rug burn.
In most cases, staff reported they were attacked by clients before they used physical restraint.
A previous state child welfare report done by the University of Illinois at Chicago for Illinois DCFS found systemic breakdowns and deficiencies at Allendale that threaten children’s safety.
The aftermath of Shaquan’s death and the UIC report has meant corrective actions at Allendale and ongoing discussions among Allendale, DCFS and Lake Villa police.
Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com