Monday, November 27, 2000

Addiction service not licensed

Ohio agency looks at Teen Reach in Warren Co.

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A fourth state agency — one that licenses drug and alcohol treatment programs — is looking into goings-on in the northern Warren County village of Har- veysburg.

        Teen Reach, an Arizona-based program for troubled teens that expanded into Ohio, must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, the agency says.

        Teen Reach services include treatment for alcohol and drug problems, according to its Web site, “It's a serious issue,” agency spokesman Eric Wandersleben said. “It's just like health care. You don't want a doctor who's not properly licensed to be performing surgery.”

        The Teen Reach Web site includes a link to the National Directory of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Treatment and Prevention Programs, which is operated by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, that division, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, does not certify programs, a spokesman said Friday.

        Teen Reach also is under investigation by the state Department of Job and Family Services, which licenses group homes, and the Education Department, which charters schools.

        Teen Reach's president, the Rev. Bobby Torres, said Sunday he anticipates no problems working with the department of alcohol and addiction services to get required certification.

        “We've always cooperated with them in other states,” the Rev. Mr. Torres said Sunday. “That's not a problem at all. That's one agency we've never had a problem with.”

        In the past, the Rev. Mr. Torres has not cooperated with some state agencies, saying Teen Reach is exempt from licensing regulations because it is a religious group.

        That does not matter, Mr. Wandersleben said. The Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services licenses more than 1,100 treatment and prevention programs for juveniles and adults, including some with religious affiliations.

        “We have to apply (state statutes) equally,” he said.

        The agency sent Teen Reach a letter last week explaining the requirements to become certified, which include having trained staff and approved inspections from fire and building officials.

        The State Fire Marshal's Office has cited Teen Reach officials and their landlord for operating a group home in a single-family residence, and the house, on Loraine Avenue, still lacks an occupancy permit nine months after it was built.

        His agency will assist Teen Reach in becoming certified, Mr. Wandersleben said. “There's always a need for more services like this in the community," he said.


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