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State report lists Kairos shortcomings

A Kairos residential treatment program for youths with mental health issues in Grants Pass broke state rules in more than a dozen ways, the Oregon Health Authority has found.

Kairos, which also operates a facility and other programs in Jackson County, has been in the news recently because of the arrests of four employees accused of sexual misbehavior involving young clients in three different cases. The arrests prompted a state review by the OHA, which has regulatory authority over Kairos as a psychiatric treatment facility.

Released by the OHA on Thursday, a 22-page report on Kairos' New Beginnings program identified "13 findings of noncompliance" with Oregon Administrative Rules, and one "area of concern." If Kairos doesn't correct those issues, its certification could be revoked, the review states.

The report describes a "maze-like layout" at the New Beginnings facility, security cameras that recorded no footage, lax oversight of one-on-one activities involving staff members and clients, and a lack of follow-up on concerns about certain employees' behavior — including a staffer who texted nude selfies to other staff members.

"Via verbal reports from staff and administration ... it became clear that one staff member had been exhibiting poor boundaries with other staff and with individuals at the program," the report states.

Since the review was completed, two Kairos New Beginnings employees have resigned — the program administrator and an assistant administrator.

The report concluded Kairos "substantially failed to comply" with state rules due to "inadequate clinical documentation, inconsistent application of program policies and procedures, inadequate supervision of staff by program administration and a lack of internal quality assurance/quality improvement activities."

Because Kairos has been cooperative, the report stated, its certification would not be revoked as long as it made the required improvements. Some changes already have been made, including the addition of a new program administrator and a new surveillance camera system.

Required reforms include better documentation of staff supervision, additional staff training on "professional boundaries" and abuse reporting, stricter monitoring of one-on-one interactions between staff members and clients, and other changes.

Kairos now has to submit a corrective-action plan to the state within the next 30 days, and staff from the OHA's Addictions and Mental Health Division will continue to conduct on-site reviews at Kairos' New Beginnings program for at least the next six months.

The state Department of Human Services, which licenses Kairos as a residential child care provider, also conducted a review at Kairos. The results weren't immediately available Thursday.

Kairos CEO Bob Lieberman released a statement Friday saying the organization "appreciates the thorough and exhaustive investigations" conducted by the state.

"We have been making positive changes and are implementing all of the requested actions ... Our unwavering intention is to build on the strengths and successes of the organization over the past 37.5 years to become stronger and better in our mission of working in partnership with young people, families and communities to provide intensive mental health services, promote mental wellness and instill hope."

The reviews were launched after criminal investigations by local police led to charges against the four former Kairos employees.