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Kentucky to remove children from Brooklawn over 7-year-old’s death

a photo of the marquee for Brooklawn on a grassy lawn.
Bellewood and Brooklawn
According to a release from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the state is revoking the license from Uspiritus-Brooklawn, which provides residential treatment for children with severe emotional and behavioral needs.

Kentucky officials are removing children from Uspiritus-Brooklawn following an investigation into the death of 7-year-old foster child Ja’Ceon Terry at the psychiatric facility.

“Today’s action should give clear warning that the cabinet will aggressively investigate and take action when Kentuckians in its care are harmed or exploited,” Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Eric Friedlander said in a news release. “This outcome is necessary, but nothing we do will bring back Ja’Ceon Terry.”

According to the release, the state is revoking the license from the center, which provides residential treatment for children with severe emotional and behavioral needs. Most of the children the center serves are in foster care.

The state began investigating after Terry died at the Louisville facility on July 17. The Jefferson County Coroner's Office said the boy died as a result of “positional asphyxia,” which means his body was in a position that made him unable to breathe. The coroner ruled the death a homicide.

The resulting investigation revealed numerous deficiencies, according to the state, including a failure by Uspiritus-Brooklawn staff to supervise residents and keep track of threats to health and safety. The investigation also found the facility did not comply with regulations around seclusion or restraint. Seclusion and restraint are techniques to physically control or isolate children when their behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others.

Kentucky stopped new placements at Uspiritus-Brooklawn after Terry’s death. CHFS spokesperson Susan Duplap told LPM News the cabinet will soon remove the remaining four youth at the facility and place them in other licensed centers.

Dunlap said details of the report can’t be shared publicly until the window for Uspiritus-Brooklawn to appeal the decision has expired. The company has 30 days to appeal.

Uspiritus-Brooklawn president and CEO Abbreial Drane did not immediately return a request for comment.

Two staff members were fired over their alleged involvement in Terry’s death, as reported by the Courier Journal in September.

No one has been charged in the case. However, Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson Alicia Smiley told LPM News by email that LMPD’s homicide unit is working with state agencies “to share information and determine what charges, if any, will be applicable once the investigation has been completed.”

“We hope to provide an update on this case sometime in the near future,” Smiley wrote.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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