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What is The Accountability for Congregate Care Act of 2021?

By authorizing funds through this bill, states will be able to develop congregate care best practices and reporting procedures, collect data to guide policy responses, and provide training for state officials, social workers, mental health professionals, and judicial employees. Without data, or means to track and address findings of institutional abuse, our nation’s understanding of this issue is severely limited. In order to create true change, we must begin by developing systems and infrastructure that will prevent catastrophic abuse and increase our understanding of evidence-based practices for youth in institutional settings.

Read Breaking Code Silence Policy Memo by clicking here.

Why is this important?

Children living in congregate care facilities represent some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth and deserve special protections. Over 120,000 youth are pipelined into residential placements each year through their local school district’s individualized education programs, the juvenile justice system, the foster care system, mental health service providers, private parental placement and even refugee resettlement programs. Many of these youth have prior trauma histories before placement, issues only exacerbated by extended separation from peers, families and communities once placed in congregate care settings.

Our current child abuse prevention and protection laws are inadequate to address the unique needs of children in congregate care. The congregate care industry receives an estimated $52 billion dollars annually of public funds to “reform” youth, yet operates without meaningful oversight. Youth residing in congregate care facilities are often denied access to legal counsel, advocacy, and their most basic rights to personal safety and satisfactory living conditions.

Although data on institutional child abuse is limited, its impact is demonstrated through the thousands of ‘survivor stories’ shared with Breaking Code Silence. These stories reveal the routine violation of the civil and human rights of minors in congregate care facilities, with limited mechanisms for victims to report their experiences or seek justice.

How can you support?

Join a vast coalition of national, state, and local entities dedicated to upholding the safety and dignity of youth in congregate care settings by signing your organization on to support the introduction of this bill.


Have questions?

Email the Breaking Code Silence legislation team at or Rebecca Mellinger at