The rooms were colorful, clean and quiet.
The girls staying at the northwest valley group home operated by A Brighter Day Family Services, which is being investigated by the county, had gone bowling Friday.
But two officials from the Clark County Department of Family Services’ licensing division were on-site reviewing camera footage of public areas throughout the home. County scrutiny of conditions at the group home was revealed Thursday after a state lawmaker called for officials to investigate allegations of unsafe environments in group homes for foster children and juvenile offenders.
“I feel very confident that they are going to do the appropriate thing,” said Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, who shared her concerns at a public meeting and was informed of the ongoing probe. “I’m going to wait and follow everything and make sure that, they in fact, are following up with it.”
Flores raised the red flag after parents, advocates and county employees shared their concerns about reports of inappropriate touching, the availability of alcohol and tobacco in some homes and neglected basic needs of residents of some Clark County homes.
Flores named two entities in particular on Thursday: A Brighter Day and Eagle Quest, entities whose homes are currently licensed by the county. On Friday, county officials said Eagle Quest is not under investigation, but disclosed little else.
Late Friday, Kristi Jourdan, Family Services spokeswoman, said nothing beyond the announcement made by county officials earlier in the day could be released. Officials can’t “comment on the status of any investigation or incidents involving A Brighter Day.”
Family Services has 30 days to complete the investigation and report its findings to A Brighter Day, said Kirby Burgess, executive director for the agency.
“We let the county know when we have incidents,” Burgess said Friday. “We are mandated reporters so we need to report it.”
What the incident involves is confidential, said Burgess, who retired as director of the county’s juvenile justice department in 2005. Four girls ranging from 15 to 17 are staying at the home. Three of them were placed there by Family Services and one by the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services.
The county’s investigation at A Brighter Day was opened on Monday. On Friday, Flores turned over the information she had gathered to Family Services.
“Appropriate steps” will be taken once the investigation is concluded, said George Cotton, director of human resources at A Brighter Day.
Speaking in general terms, Cotton said, staff is placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation. Depending on the severity of the findings, an employee could be terminated, demoted or suspended.
Meeghan Lennon, whose 15-year-old daughter has been placed in group homes operated by both A Brighter Day and Eagle Quest, said her daughter had problems with both. The homes didn’t provide enough supervision and they were not meeting her daughter’s basic needs, she said.
“There was not enough food for the girls to eat,” Lennon said.
On Friday, refrigerators at A Brighter Day’s group home were full and a cook was on-site.
Esther Brown, a children’s advocate for The Embracing Project, began a contract with the Clark County courts in 2011 to be a liaison between providers, courts, Family Services and Juvenile Justice Services. In December 2012, she began to report incidents at group homes that raised her concerns.
“I was concerned about certain providers, particularly group homes, and what type of services they were providing and what supervision they had,” she said Friday.
Her contract with the county was not renewed in June.
Mary Ann Price, spokeswoman for the Eight Judicial District Court, in a statement said the project that Brown was involved with was a pilot program. “Upon evaluating the project, we determined that it was in the best interest of the court to not renew the agreement with (Brown).”
Brown said her concern is about the children.
“We are playing with children’s lives,” she said. “We hold them accountable for their mistakes they made, but we don’t make accountable the providers who are not providing the services they need.”
Contact Yesenia Amaro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.