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News / Business / Clark County Business

Daybreak Youth Services suspends clinical services

Treatment facility says it will appeal Department of Health action

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: June 14, 2023, 5:58pm

Daybreak Youth Services announced Wednesday it is temporarily suspending its clinical operations after the Department of Health revoked its licenses late last month and sought a temporary restraining order.

The Department of Health announced May 26 it intended to suspend the licenses for Daybreak’s facilities in Brush Prairie and Spokane. The department said staff at the addiction and mental health treatment facilities failed to cooperate with investigations since March 2022 into multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with teenage patients.

Daybreak had four days to appeal but said it wasn’t enough time after learning of the suspensions the afternoon before a long holiday weekend.

Both the Department of Health and Daybreak filed injunctions against each other in Thurston and Clark County Superior courts, respectively. The Department of Health’s temporary restraining order was granted, stricken and then reinstated, followed by a motion for contempt for disobeying the order.

“DOH is going after Daybreak without regard to the well-being of the kids,” David H. Smith, Daybreak’s attorney, said in a Wednesday statement. “The motion for contempt is being pursued by DOH to intimidate Daybreak’s board.”

Previously, Daybreak said 98 patients were affected, and the health department said it is working with other agencies and organizations to ensure all patients have access to safe health care.

In its Wednesday statement, Daybreak said one patient who was forced to leave the facility relapsed, overdosed and was hospitalized; another is at risk of being jailed for not completing treatment.

Daybreak said it opposes the health department’s motion and will file its own motion to overturn the restraining order in the state Court of Appeals.

“DOH has been moving forward legally on unproven and unprovable allegations,” Smith said. “This ends when they are in an impartial legal proceeding when they have to provide facts.”

History of allegations

In announcing the suspensions, the health department cited three separate allegations of employee sexual misconduct at the Brush Prairie facility and a pattern of inadequate reporting procedures. It also cited allegations of misconduct as a result of “patient boundary issues” with a staff member at the Spokane location.

Daybreak was founded in Spokane in 1978 and purchased its Brush Prairie facility in 2016 in an effort to expand its inpatient treatment services for boys. Among its services, Daybreak offers a center focused on stabilizing youth who have been or are at risk of being commercially and sexually exploited; an evaluation treatment center focused on mental health crises; and Spokane-based teams for family-focused intensive services.

The health department investigated the Brush Prairie facility in 2018 for allegations of unreported sexual assaults and altercations. The department threatened to revoke the facility’s license, but it appealed. Daybreak then settled with the department in 2019, agreeing to improve staffing, training, security and reporting policies.