There are more than 30 privately run schools for troubled youth operating in the state of Montana. They employ more than 600 people and pump an estimated 4 million into the state income taxes. It's an exploding industry, but strangely, most Montanans have no idea the schools even exist. In this hour-long documentary, MontanaPBS explores a lucrative industry praised for its novel approach to reforming youth, yet shrouded in disturbing allegations of abuse and neglect.
During the 2007 Montana Legislature, lawmakers passed a bill requiring alternative schools to be licensed and regulated by the Board of Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs (PAARP) under the Department of Labor. But, the new bill gives the PAARP board a deadline of October 2008 to come up with licensing rules. Until that happens, Montana programs will remain unlicensed.
MontanaPBS Investigative Reporter Wins National Award
July 5, 2007 – Anna Rau, a producer and reporter for Montana PBS station KUFM-TV, has won a Cine Golden Eagle Award for her documentary "Who’s Watching the Kids." The program examined the multi-million dollar alternative school industry in Montana, which operates without state license or regulation.
The Cine Golden Eagle is awarded for excellence in documentary and other informational film and video production. Besides Rau, other awardees in the Professional News/Investigative Division included Thirteen/WNET in New York City and ABC News.
"This award speaks to the integrity of Anna’s investigative reporting abilities," said William Marcus, director of The University of Montana’s Broadcast Media Center, which houses KUFM-TV. "This was a contentious subject that required more than 18 months of research and documentation. The aim was to further public discussion about this industry. It did that."
"Who’s Watching the Kids" also was one of 17 U.S. documentaries selected as international finalists in the Input 2007 documentary competition, which recognizes public television work from around the world. Available in more than 150 communities across the state, Montana PBS is a collaborative service of KUFM-TV at UM and KUSM-TV at Montana State University-Bozeman.