By the time Kingston Academy closed last year, the state of Tennessee had multiple reports of staff violence and at least two child-on-child sexual assaults. Yet it would take damning photos of squalid conditions, taken by a mother of four, to shut the children’s psychiatric facility down.
When a child with Medicaid insurance needs intensive psychiatric care, doctors or therapists might make a referral to a private facility — even if they’ve never seen the place themselves.
Caring for some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable kids is challenging work, yet many who do so in residential psychiatric centers earn low wages, have no prior experience and get just a couple weeks training. Which is why places like Kingston Academy near Knoxville, which closed last year, see such high staff turnover, burnout and violence.