Take a deep breath, and then read these 10 questions before you hire a teen transport company. Hiring a transport company to take your angry or out-of-control teen out of the home is a stressful time. Families are making decisions quickly and not always with information that best serves their long-term interests. So, here are experienced recommendations for assuring the safest, smoothest and least restrictive transport your family can consider.
1. How long have you been in business?
Older does not always mean wiser, but it is a place to start. If it is a new company find out why they started the company—what is the story? The newer companies spin out of other companies for positive reasons & other times negative reasons.
2. How much professional insurance coverage does your company carry? What type of professional insurance coverage?
Insurance: The industry standard is a policy for at least one million dollars and an insurance policy written for intervention & transport of at-risk &/or young adults. If you are hiring a transport company ask for a copy of the company’s proof of insurance. You should also receive their agent’s contact information.
Auto Insurance: The transport companies should provide auto insurance for all their agents (contract &/or employees). It is also a best practice that the transport company does driver’s license checks on all their staff that will drive for the transport.
Worker's Compensation: Verify that that the transport company has Worker’s Compensation for all employees and any contractors. This is a law for all 50 states. This protects the client from facing a bill or lawsuit from an injured employee/contractor and when the responsibility should fall to Worker’s Compensation.
(TIP: Workers Comp also protects referral sources too.)
(YIKES: I was discussing these standards with an owner of a transport company. I was informed that only ONE therapeutic consultant had ever asked them for a copy of the proof of insurance. I realized, as a consultant, I did not check on this either and have always relied on my professional relationships and trusted. This was an oversight on my part and was quickly corrected.)
3. Are your Transport Agents employees of your company and not contracted?
Most transport companies have employees and contractors. The question to ask is are all the contractors covered under all the insurance policies? Are there any differences in training requirements? Generally, the answer is they are covered and there are no training differences, but ask. (see #2)
4. What kind of background checks do you perform on your employees?
The standard is the FBI biometric background for all transport agents & driver’s license checks performed for all driving staff.
However, for the state of California there is the TrustLine registry. This means that if an agent is not on the Registry, they cannot transport a troubled teen (under 18 YO) in or out of the state. Therefore, some agents only work with young adults, because this is not required for adults.
5. Is your company independent of programs, schools & all treatment facilities?
This goes for transport companies, interventionists, programs, consultants, if there is a dual relationship, it must be disclosed before the professional relationship has been established. ALWAYS ASK.
6. What are the policies regarding physical restraints and mechanical restraints?
As a family member you want to be comfortable with what might go wrong is something happens. ASK. ASK. ASK. Generally, the problems occur in the home and the teen calms down once they have left the house (think about when you dropped toddlers off at nursery school).
7. What is the company's policies regarding training of the transport staff?
There are generally two agents and one agent will have a higher level of training. This is an area that may differ company to company.
8. Do you always have at least one same-sex agent with my teen?
It is not a rule, but generally at least one agent is the same sex as the client.
9. Should I speak to more than one company?
Yes. Each company has a different perspective & training. You must feel comfortable with the company and the process. Like any business there are different price points and transport companies plan and implement travel in different ways and it is important, as a consumer, to know how that is done.
Some examples of the differences between styles and it is up to the consumer to figure out what works best for the family.
- Some agents arrive the day or night before and rehearse with the family.
- Some agents arrive the night of at a particular place.
- Some involve the family member(s).
(TIP: As a former referrer, I would always give more than one option because it would lower my liability.)
10. Does your state require licensing of your business and if so, are you licensed?
Each state differs, like everything else involving private pay behavioral health for troubled teens & young adults. There should be a license at least to operate or have a business in the state, if the state does not require a license. Regardless, you should know who to complain to if there is a problem.
Take Home messages:
Most transports of teens or young adults go without a problem. The problems occur when plans are not adapted to changes "on the ground" & all pertinent information was not disclosed ahead of time.
Your referral source should have solid recommendations for transport companies. (If you are finding and hiring a Transport company on your own and sense something is not correct, look for another company.)
A good transport company should be able to provide all of the above information in a timely manner and in a comprehensive way. If not, do not use them.
Transporters are dealing with high-risk situations & clients and over time, incidents happen to even the best companies. The good companies quickly correct problems and most importantly they are structured and operate in a way that protects families and referral sources from incidents turning into major problems.
Much of this information was provided by the Association of Mediation and Transport Services (AMATS).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Shepherd is President of Right Directions Crisis Intervention, providing crisis intervention and transport services to families in need.