Safe Environment Standards

Howard Center’s Park Street and Transition House programs provide residential placement and treatment services under contract with Vermont’s Department of Children and Families’ Family Services Division – Youth Justice.  As a result of this relationship, these programs must comply with the standards in accordance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). To that end, Howard Center has developed these safe environmental standards for those programs.

 Zero Tolerance Policy

Howard Center has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and sexual harassment of individuals. This prohibition is supported by the agency’s Code of Ethics, the Policy Prohibiting Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Abuse of Clients and the Policies and Procedures Addressing the Prison Rape Elimination Act in our operations manual, as well as the Violence Prevention and Weapons-Free Workplace Policy in the Personnel Manual. All staff members, contractors, interns, or volunteers working at Park Street or Transition House facilities or having direct contact with residents of those facilities are required to sign a form stating they understand the zero tolerance policy and their role as a mandatory reporter.

Reporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment 

Residents are encouraged to report any sexual abuse or sexual harassment by another resident or by a staff member. They may report to any facility staff member, Howard Center staff member outside the facility, to an outside organization, or anonymously by completing the grievance form and placing it in the grievance box at the facility. 

Howard Center will accept third-party reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment from a resident’s friends or family member, the resident’s attorney, or any other member of the community. 

All Howard Center staff members are required to immediately report any knowledge or suspicion of sexual abuse or sexual harassment to their immediate supervisor, the facility PREA Compliance Manager, the PREA Coordinator, or the Director of Compliance. 

All reports of alleged sexual abuse and sexual harassment will be administratively investigated by the agency.  All reports will be taken seriously and investigated in a timely and thorough manner.  Anonymous reports will be accepted.

To report an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual harassment to Howard Center, use any of the following options:

Allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment at Park Street and Transition House may be reported to these outside parties:

  • Department of Children and Families (DCF) Centralized Intake - 1.800.649.5285
  • The Child Advocacy Center at CUSI/ Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations (Burlington): 802.652.0391
  • Child First Advocacy Center/ Rutland Office for Special Investigations (Rutland): 802.747.0200

 Investigative Policy

All reports of sexual abuse will be reported to DCF for investigation. Howard Center will conduct administrative investigations of all sexual abuse and sexual harassment allegations.  If the administrative investigation identifies possible criminal behavior, Howard Center will refer it to the local agency with legal authority to investigate the allegation and, if applicable, to the appropriate licensing body. 

View or download more information regarding DCF’s investigation policy. 

Annual and Aggregated Sexual Abuse Data

In compliance with the PREA Standards, Howard Center will post on this website each year’s data on the US Department of Justice Survey of Sexual Violence Summary Form regarding founded allegations of sexual abuse on our programs.  Howard Center will annually review the data, along with other relevant information, and evaluate the effectiveness of our sexual abuse activities, policies, procedures, and training to determine if any changes are warranted and if so, identify what actions were implement

Howard Center Internal Summary Report

Data, by calendar year:

Facility PREA Audit Reports