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If Pathway Family Center is successful in opening a teen drug treatment center in Porter County later this year, several layers of oversight will be in place to protect against the types of client abuse linked to other programs, according to Chief Executive Officer Terri Nissley.

The actions of the nonprofit treatment provider are monitored closely as part of its national accreditation, and any facility in Porter County would be overseen by a local board made up of various community leaders and parents, Nissley said.

A recipients rights advisor is also in place to field concerns directly from the young clients and parent/client boards are used to further facilitate communication with staff, she said

The issue of oversight comes in response to accusations of client abuse stemming from other teen drug treatment programs, including the now-defunct Straight Inc.

The concern was raised in a series of articles in The Times and then again this week during a local forum on the Pathway proposal. Pathway officials, young graduates and members of the local Community Action Drug Coalition have all yelled foul and insist the abuses in question have nothing to do with Pathway or its treatment program.

Nissley said this week Pathway has not been targeted with a single lawsuit during its 14 years of operation.

Nonetheless, Porter Superior Judge Julia Jent, who heads up the county's drug court, said during Tuesday night's forum she would like to see some independent monitoring in place if Pathway were to open up shop in Porter County.

Nissley said Pathway is in compliance with the national standards of the Council on Accreditation for its substance abuse, shelter and day treatment services. Renewal comes up every four years, she said.

"The safety of our kids is the number one concern of all staff," she said.

Pathway is also certified by the state as an addiction services provider.

A local board will also be established in Porter County, made up of business people, physicians, therapists, other community leaders and clients of the program, Nissley said. There are 12 members on the board in Indianapolis.

The local boards are charged with assuring the quality of care, tracking outcomes and fund-raising, she said.

When the young clients enter the program, they are provided with a copy of their rights in writing, as well as the contact information for the recipients rights advisor, Nissley said. When concerns are brought to the attention of the advisors, which occurs about twice a year, they are shared with an independent advisor at the state level.

Background checks are also done on the homes where the young people stay during the first part of the program, Nissley said.

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