PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington health officials are warning the public that a youth behavioral facility currently under investigation is continuing to operate without a license.

This comes as two locations face multiple serious allegations of staff members engaging in sexual misconduct with minor patients.

The Washington Department of Health sounded the alarm after Daybreak, a youth services facility under investigation failed close its doors despite having its license suspended.  

Despite the mounting pressure to close doors, KOIN 6 News visited the Daybreak in Brush Prairie on Wednesday, which appeared very much open for business, a fact the Department of Health classifies as a continued disregard for the law, and Daybreak calls a logical response to a vindictive campaign.

“We are deeply concerned for their wellbeing, as humans and as youth, and the safety of care that they’re receiving,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, the chief of prevention with the Washington State Department of Health.

The DOH suspended the licenses for both the Daybreak youth services facilities in Spokane and Brush Prairie last Friday, claiming the non-profit allegedly failed to cooperate with investigations into multiple complaints of inappropriate contact made by staff against adolescent patients.

The order states that the program “has identified that three former employees of (Daybreak) Brush Prairie have allegedly engaged in professional boundary violations, including sexual misconduct, with three minor patients.”

“In the course of doing those investigations, we have faced a lack of cooperation from Daybreak, and we cannot actually complete them, which means we cannot assure safe care for the youth in those facilities,” Fehrenbach said.

Some of the claims made by patients include Daybreak staff members allegedly contacting minor patients after they were discharged from the facility, lavish gifts, renting an Airbnb to spend time alone, inappropriate touching and non-consensual sex.  

The state says of the more than 700 facilities investigations conducted in 2022, Daybreak was the only facility that refused to cooperate.

Fehrenbach told KOIN 6 the agency gave Daybreak four days to safely transition their patients to other facilities, but they failed to do that and also failed to produce a closure plan within the required 24 hours following their license suspension.

“We at this point believe they are operating without a license and that is concerning. This also means for patients and their families that their insurance may not cover the cost of care provided at these facilities,” she said.

But Daybreak says the DOH should have known the facility would still be operating, saying the department intentionally made it impossible for them to respond in a timely manner by issuing the action without notice, late on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend.

“It is the logical outcome of their effort to play fast and loose with fair play and the law,” a Daybreak spokesperson said in a statement to KOIN 6 News.  “Daybreak did, in fact, file a petition for injunctive relief and is poised to file a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt DOH’s assault on Daybreak, its patients, and its families.”

However, DOH says closing a facility is always a last resort and is done only out of extreme concern for patient safety.

“We absolutely balance access to care, but we want that care to be safe and quality health care. And in this case, while it is a very difficult situation and a very heavy situation, we felt it necessary to take this action in order to protect patients,” said Fehrenbach. In the meantime, the DOH is encouraging parents and caregivers to work with their insurance provider to find an alternate care facility.

In the meantime, the DOH is encouraging parents and caregivers to work with their insurance provider to find an alternate care facility.