Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered the state Department of Social Services to enact a series of wide-ranging reforms intended to improve the safety of youths sent to privately run treatment facilities across South Dakota.
The governor’s announcement came in response to an investigative report published June 5 by South Dakota News Watch that uncovered a decade-long pattern of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of youths at Aurora Plains Academy, a privately run, government-funded intensive residential treatment facility in Plankinton, S.D.
“As a mom, it deeply saddens me to read the stories of these kids. Regardless of whether a situation happened 10 years ago, 10 months ago or 10 days ago, abuse is never OK,” the governor wrote in a statement to News Watch. “I hope we can learn and take corrective action where it is needed to protect our most vulnerable population.”