- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Senate has endorsed a bill to give the state health department oversight of private residential programs for troubled children.

Tuesday’s 34-15 vote comes after a series by the Missoulian that found multiple problems with programs for children dealing with emotional and behavioral problems.

The programs are now overseen by the Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Program board. Three of the five board members own or run programs.

Democratic Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula says the board hasn’t sanctioned any program over the last 12 years, despite receiving 58 complaints in that time.

Her bill would give oversight to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Quality Assurance Division.

The Senate must take a final vote before the bill goes to the House.

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