Residential programs for troubled teens will be getting more scrutiny from Congress this week, where investigators will reveal the results of an undercover investigation.
Some of the outfits, which purport to help troubled children, have generated hundreds of allegations of death and physical, sexual and emotional abuse, ABC News reported last October.
"Kids being forced to eat their own vomit, to eat dirt, to not be allowed to go to the bathroom...all in the idea that somehow this is building character," is how Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., described what congressional investigators found when they probed some of the programs.
At a hearing before Miller's House Education and Labor Committee Thursday, investigators are expected to reveal alarming new details showing how deceptive marketing and conflicts of interest could lead good parents to send their children to bad programs, Hill sources say.
Miller is also expected to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening oversight of the programs.
At a hearing last fall, investigators told Congress that "boot camp"-style programs tend to be loosely regulated and are sometimes found to have untrained staff using reckless or negligent operating practices.
"We cannot afford to take these [programs] away from the parents as an option," Jan Moss, president of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), told ABC News last fall.
She acknowledged, however, before Congress later, "We have made mistakes in the past; we recognize that."