Hilton tells Congress youth care programs need more oversight

WASHINGTON — Reality TV star Paris Hilton called for greater federal oversight of youth care programs at a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing on Wednesday as she described her traumatic experience in youth care facilities.

Hilton, 43, the great-granddaughter of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton, has spoken publicly about the emotional and physical abuse she endured when she was placed in residential youth treatment facilities as a teen.

In remarks to the committee on Wednesday, she described being taken from her bed in the middle of the night at age 16 and transported across state lines to a residential facility where she experienced physical and sexual abuse.

“This $23 billion industry sees this population [of vulnerable children] as dollar signs and operates without meaningful oversight,” she said.

“There’s no education in these places; there’s mold and blood on the walls,” she said in response to lawmaker questions. “It’s horrifying what these places are like. They’re worse than some dog kennels.”

Hilton said private equity firms that have taken a greater stake in the industry in recent years focus on maximizing profits, prompting them to hire unqualified workers.

“They’re caring more about profit than the safety of children,” she said.

Hilton first described her experience at a Utah facility in 2021 and has been a vocal advocate for greater oversight of the system.

“These programs promised ‘healing, growth, and support,’ but instead did not allow me to speak, move freely, or even look out of a window for two years,” Hilton told the committee. “My parents were completely deceived, lied to and manipulated by this for-profit industry, so you can only imagine the experience for youth who don’t have anyone checking in on them.”

Several lawmakers agreed that more federal oversight was necessary.

“We must always be concerned about fraud and guard against Wall Street vultures snatching public funds to line their pockets,” Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell said. “We cannot allow the private equity octopus to reach its tentacles into child services.”

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