Statement from the Executive Director of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)

statement

With specific respect to Paris Hilton, NATSAP was created in 1999, while Ms. Hilton attended her program during the 1997-1998 school year. Because NATSAP was not created until after Ms. Hilton's time at her program, and the additional fact that the program is now under different ownership than it was when Ms. Hilton attended, I am not able to directly respond to Ms. Hilton's experiences.

What I can share with you is that NATSAP is a not-for-profit membership association dedicated to residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and wilderness therapy programs for adolescents and young adults experiencing a wide variety of mental health, behavior and substance abuse issues. Often our member programs are the last resort for the child and their family.

To maintain state licensure or national accreditation, NATSAP programs are required to meet approved standards of care, report incidents, and be subject to periodic (often unannounced) on-site reviews and audits. Many of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations for residential care of adolescents served as the foundation for NATSAP’s Principles of Good Practice—a document all NATSAP members must agree to abide by to become a member.

NATSAP members deliver their care under the watchful eye of state licensing departments and national accrediting bodies. NATSAP requires its members that serve adolescents to be licensed by the appropriate state agency authorized to set and oversee standards of therapeutic and/or behavioral healthcare or accredited by a nationally recognized behavioral health accreditation agency, and to deliver therapeutic services with oversight by a qualified clinician.

Staffed by credentialed professionals, NATSAP members are not institutional in their approach, but rather provide individualized and nurturing care. NATSAP members take caution to understand and help, rather than label, judge, or limit the positive expectations of any child. NATSAP members also involve families as part of this individualized and nurturing care because our members want to ensure that the child is returned to a loving, accepting family environment.

NATSAP’s mission is to promote the healthy growth, learning, motivation, and personal well-being of program participants. The objective of member therapeutic and educational programs is to provide excellent treatment for program participants; treatment that is rooted in deep-seated concern for their well-being and growth; respect for them as human beings; and sensitivity to their individual needs and integrity.