Originally created 08/24/02

State denies youth home license



The South Carolina Department of Social Services has denied the license application for a facility that planned to house emotionally disturbed teens in the Belclear Heights subdivision.

Emerald Youth Services wanted to place 49 young people, ages 13-18, in five homes, one on Second Street and four on Emerald Drive.

The application sparked fierce reaction from the surrounding community.

A petition began. Letters to DSS flooded the desk of license consultant Helen Duschinski. Two community meetings were called at the Burnettown Municipal Building. The last one, on Monday, drew 85 residents. Another public meeting protesting the home will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School auditorium, 29 Lions Trail, Langley.

The decision was made based on a "past history of insufficient care of vulnerable persons while operating as a Community Residential Care Facility known as Gregory's Community Care," according to a letter sent to Joyce Gregory, the chief executive officer of Emerald Youth Services, from Elizabeth Patterson, DSS state director.

Ms. Gregory said Friday she had no comment on the denial and hasn't decided whether she will appeal the decision, which she has 30 days to do.

In an Aug. 16 interview, Ms. Gregory told The Chronicle that her facility began housing adults with mental illnesses 24 years ago, and did so until last September when her contract to provide adult care through the state Department of Health and Environmental Control was up.

The contract Ms. Gregory held to house adults was actually through Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center, said Vicki Rinere, a quality consultant for the Department of Mental Health.

The center gave Ms. Gregory a 30-day notice canceling the contract in September 2001, Ms. Rinere said.

PUBLIC PROTEST

A public meeting protesting the Emerald Youth Services home will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School auditorium, 29 Lions Trail, Langley.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.