For immediate release May 30, 2023 

Contact: Sarah Spier, Director of External Relations 509.828.9963   

Daybreak challenges the DOH in Superior Court 

Daybreak Youth Services is filing suit in Clark County Superior Court against the Washington Department of Health (DOH) seeking injunctive relief from the department’s vindictive effort to suspend Daybreak’s licenses.  DOH and Daybreak are currently in the midst of an administrative process over Daybreak’s license, and it appeared that Daybreak would prevail in its motion for summary judgment. 

Faced with defeat, DOH used an “ex parte” procedure that required no notice to Daybreak and issued a “summary action” to suspend both of Daybreak’s licenses on Friday afternoon before the long Memorial Day weekend in order to close down Daybreak before they could appeal within the four-day window to comply with the summary action. “The Department of Health violated Daybreak’s right to due process,” said David H. Smith, Daybreak’s attorney.  “They are causing irreparable harm to Daybreaks patients, their parents, and the organization itself.” 

DOH said that they took the extraordinary action of issuing the “summary action” because they claimed there is an immediate danger of harm to Daybreaks patients—but they relied on events that occurred and were resolved in 2021 and 2022.  “This is a pretext that will never hold up in court, “said Smith.  “Faced with losing on the merits of their case in the current litigation over Daybreak’s license, DOH has hoped for the kill shot.”       

What will happen if DOH is successful?  The state will lose an indispensable suite of services that help some of Washington’s most vulnerable youth including: 

  • Two residential inpatient facilities for substance use disorder and mental health conditions (Spokane and Vancouver); 
  • A Restorative Receiving Center, focusing on stabilizing youth that have been or who are at risk of being commercially and sexually exploited; 
  • An Evaluation & Treatment Center, focusing on mental health crises and suicide; 
  • Three WISE teams in Spokane (family-focused wrap-around intensive services for clients and their families);  
  • Fully accredited schools in both Spokane & Vancouver.  

In its most recent report to the legislature, the Washington State Health Care Authority reported that one in three youth covered by Medicaid in need of mental health services did not receive them.  They also reported that three out of four youth covered by Medicaid, who needed care for substance abuse, did not receive treatment.    

Daybreak is the largest youth Medicaid facility in Washington State.  It is also one of the few in-patient facilities for youth in the state.  But for Daybreak, the kids they serve are likely to end up on the street, in jail, or in the morgue.  In addition, the state would also have to bear the costs for increased crime, law enforcement, and incarceration.   

Current actions of the DOH are already causing grave harm to the families and their 98 distraught kids at Daybreak, some of whom are being uprooted by Managed Care Organizations at the behest of the DOH.  “The DOH is now in the process of harming those they are supposed to protect,” said Smith. “It’s time to stop the madness.” 

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