Court order grants Families in Transition financial oversight of Serenity Place

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MANCHESTER, NH – Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announces that, following an action commenced by the New Hampshire Department of Justice Charitable Trust Unit, Families In Transition was appointed as receiver of Serenity Place, a New Hampshire voluntary corporation located in Manchester. The receivership was approved Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District.

Serenity Place is a charitable organization that provides services to those with substance use disorders. Under the receivership order, Serenity Place will continue to provide its current array of clinical services, including as the agency designated to receive non-hospital referrals from the Manchester Safe Station program. Families In Transition, a New Hampshire charitable organization also based in Manchester, will provide management services, address financial issues and plan for the future provision of services. Families In Transition has been provided all powers necessary to operate Serenity Place and its programs.

The Charitable Trust Unit has statutory and common law authority to provide oversight of New Hampshire charitable organizations and to seek the appointment of receivers. Earlier this month, the Unit received information regarding Serenity Place’s financials. Following an investigation, the Charitable Trust Unit concluded that a receivership was required. As set forth in the pleadings submitted to the Court today, Serenity Place has accounts payable of $161,706.09, more than half of which are aging. It has payroll tax liabilities of $182,612.64. Since July 1, 2017, it is operating at a deficit of more than $600,000.

Gov. Chris Sununu released the following statement:

I am shocked and saddened by the circumstances at Serenity Place.  It is imperative that as we work through this situation, we ensure a continuity of care for those who need services.  Our first priority is making certain that those most affected by the opioid crisis do not suffer for the actions of others.

I commend the Department of Health and Human Services and the Charitable Trusts Unit for initiating a review of Serenity Place operations immediately after uncovering concerning information just a few weeks ago. After a full briefing yesterday on the state of the organization’s finances, the Attorney General and I agreed that a receivership is the best way to ensure that there will be no immediate interruption in services while the Charitable Trusts Unit continues its review.

These developments underscore the need for accountability and transparency in substance use disorder (SUD) programs. We cannot simply spend taxpayer dollars on this problem without knowing where that money is flowing and without a clear plan for measuring outcomes and results. To that end, while the State will continue to provide financial support for these critical programs, we will also continue our work in auditing every program that receives state resources to ensure that these programs have long term stability and ensure sound accounting practices are followed.

“Substance Use Disorder programs are a critical component in our fight against addiction and the opioid crisis, and we must take every possible step to maximize their effectiveness. Our citizens struggling with addiction, and their families and friends, deserve nothing less.”

“Serenity Place provides critical services, including residential treatment, outpatient treatment, respite, and recovery to those with a substance use disorder. It is imperative that those critical services continue. Families In Transition is poised to act as the receiver and operate Serenity Place,” Attorney General MacDonald said.

“We appreciate FIT’s commitment to meeting the needs of the community,” said Jeffrey A. Meyers, Commissioner of the NH Department of Health and Human Services. “The Safe Station program, SUD treatment programs, and screening and referral services provided by Serenity will remain available for people struggling with substance misuse. The Department’s primary focus is to work with FIT to ensure clients continue to receive these critical services.”

Under the terms of the Order approved today, the receiver is responsible for determining whether Serenity Place and any of its programs can be operated as a viable and independent organization going forward. The receiver is required to provide monthly reports to the court. The receivership shall expire on June 30, 2018, unless otherwise extended.

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