WASHINGTON - Youth boot camps and their referral services are using deceptive marketing practices when trying to convince parents of troubled kids to try the programs, a federal investigation has found.
The programs — also referred to as residential treatment facilities, behavior modification programs or therapeutic boarding schools — have been under congressional investigation for about a year. It's estimated that at least 20,000 U.S. teens attend such facilities.
As part of the federal review, investigators at the Government Accountability Office made undercover calls to boot camps and referral services that work with them.
In one case, an investigator posing as a father was advised to hide information from his wife about a program, according to GAO investigator Greg Kutz, who was scheduled to testify about the investigation Thursday before a House committee.