As part of a settlement agreement, El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch surrendered its license permanently.
The revocation agreement signed by El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch Board Chair Josh Wilcoxson back on Oct. 13. The Colorado Department of Human Services signed off on the settlement Oct. 31.
El Pueblo released the following statement following News5’s reporting on the license revocation agreement:
El Pueblo, An Adolescent Treatment Community, reiterates its denial of all allegations made by the Colorado Department of Human Services (the “Department”) in connection with the summary suspension of El Pueblo’s license. El Pueblo specifically denies that it failed to provide a safe environment for children or otherwise failed to comply with the Department’s standards. The Department’s allegations were just that—allegations that were not based on a full and objective investigation. Rather, the State’s investigation was incomplete, inconsistent, and inconclusive, and that and the State’s distribution of information to the press unfortunately led to a number of incorrect and one-sided media accounts regarding the situation.
Even though El Pueblo believes it could demonstrate that the Department’s allegations are baseless and its suspension action unwarranted, El Pueblo’s Board of Directors and leadership has decided to not waste its resources by challenging the Department’s actions, and will instead close El Pueblo because the damage already caused by the unsubstantiated allegations is irreversible. Further, El Pueblo does not want to stand in the way of progress or the changing times. The State of Colorado and the medical community at large now prefer to treat youth with severe emotional and behavioral problems in therapeutic foster care instead of residential care, creating challenges for the service model provided by El Pueblo.
El Pueblo’s Board of Directors and leadership are grateful to the staff who dedicated themselves tirelessly to serving the youth receiving treatment at the facility. The staff received notice of the facility closure as early as September 29, 2017, and many have already moved on to other opportunities. El Pueblo’s Board of Directors and leadership are confident these individuals will continue to make a positive difference in this community.
In the coming weeks, El Pueblo’s Board of Directors plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP) that seeks to transition its assets and facilities to another non-profit organization, with the goal being to utilize the El Pueblo facilities and assets to serve the Pueblo Community and others who can benefit from the foundation built by El Pueblo over the past several decades.
“We know that something good will come out of this situation, and, in addition to taking pride in the many children’s lives that were positively changed during their time at El Pueblo, we look forward to collaborating with the State and other interested agencies to explore exciting new ideas, options, and services that may be provided using El Pueblo’s assets and facilities –that will be a key component of El Pueblo’s legacy,” said board president Joshua Wilcoxson. “We are grateful to the staff, volunteers and donors who supported this organization and facilitated its many successes over the past 57 years.”
The Department of Human Services has suspended the permanent child care license for El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch near Pueblo Tuesday.
DHS is currently reviewing whether the license should be further suspended or revoked.
The facility has been under investigation since the DHS received a tip in late July about an “inappropriately restrained child”. DHS said the CEO of the ranch also submitted “false and misleading documentation to the department regarding the restraint.”
The documents detail other complaints of lack of medical attention, access to food and staff not intervening in fights between the children. It also accused a facility staff member of pulling a child’s hair, scratching a child, and punching a child in the mouth.
The Department of Human Services also said it also received a complaint of a child with “significant disabilities” who was rolling around and banging their head on the floor. The documents allege that staff watch the child biting their own arms and legs resulting in bleeding wounds and further injuries.
The DHS documents go on to say: “The Department has reasonable ground to believe and finds that the operation of this residential child care facility presents a substantial danger to the public health, safety, and welfare requiring emergency action.”
El Pueblo CEO Jimmy Cardinal issued a news release Tuesday afternoon in response to the suspension. It reads:
“After fifty seven years of continuous service to the community by providing a home for our most troubled kids, El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch has been informed by state officials that an order of suspension of its license is being implemented. The Board of Directors and the management of El Pueblo look forward to cooperating with the State Officials to resolve any concerns and to resuming our service to the community and to children in need.”
According to the DHS, the El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch can care for up to 166 children from ages 5 to 18. Nourie Boraie of DHS said the children will either go to other facilities or back to their parents.
A source closed to EL Pueblo says less than 50 children were inside the facility when orders to shut down were received.
The facility had 11 repeat violations regarding use of physical restraints, 6 repeat violations for inappropriate discipline, 18 children’s rights violations and 5 lack of supervision violations.