Human Rights

Individual Rights

Each individual receiving services at Southwestern Virginia Training Center shall be assured the freedom to exercise their legal, civil, and human rights related to those services. Residents receiving services shall be assured respect for basic human dignity and that services provided are consistent with sound therapeutic practice. The Rules and Regulations to Assure the rights of Individuals Receiving Services from Providers of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services provide details on individual rights and can be accessed on website of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services at Each resident and the legally authorized representative receives an annual notification of individual rights related to services received at Southwestern Virginia Training Center.


B. J. McKnight is the assigned Human Rights Advocate for Southwestern Virginia Training Center. The Human Rights Advocate monitors an advocacy system at Southwestern Virginia Training Center to promote compliance with individual rights. The advocate is available to help residents make a complaint about a possible violation of their rights and will represent the resident upon request or consult with any other representative the individual chooses. The advocate assigned to Southwestern Virginia Training Center is independent of the training center director and reports directly to the Office of Human Rights of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

The advocate can initiate a complaint on a resident's behalf. The advocate will also receive complaints directly from residents and others at anytime. If the resident or legally authorized representative is not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint, a petition for a hearing may be submitted to Southwestern Virginia Training Center Local Human Rights Committee.

B. J. McKnight
Human Rights Advocate
P. O. Box 1328
Hillsville, VA 24343

Phone: (276) 728-1111

Human Rights Complaints

Southwestern Virginia Training Center has an informal complaint process to respond to possible violations of individual rights regarding their services. Residents can make a complaint to any employee of the facility. Family members, volunteers, consultants, or employees can make a complaint on behalf of a resident. Once a complaint is received an event report will be completed and designated training center staff will attempt to resolve the complaint within 5 days. If the complaint is not resolved, then the director refers the complaint to the human rights advocate.

Local Human Rights Committee

The SWVTC Local Human rights Committee consists of community volunteers that broadly represent various professionals and consumer groups with an interest in mental health, intellectual disabilities or substance abuse issues. The Local Human Rights committee reviews policies, procedures, or practices that could jeopardize the rights of residents and receives complaints of alleged rights violations by or for individuals receiving services. the State Human Rights Committee appoints members to the Local Human Rights Committee and hears appeals of unresolved human rights complaints.

The Local Human Rights Committee encourages interested professionals and consumers to apply for membership. The Committee's regular meeting schedule is the fourth Wednesday of the month from January through October. The Committee has a combined November and December meeting on the first Wednesday in December. Meetings are held in Building 1 at Southwestern Virginia Training Center. Confidentiality of information regarding individuals receiving services must be observed at all times.

If you are interested in membership or would like to receive additional information, please call B. J. McKnight, Human Rights Advocate at (276) 728-1111. Applications are received annually from February through mid March. A personal interview will be required for all applicants initially selected.

2015-2017 Local Human Rights Committee Tentative Meeting Schedule

Meeting Date Agenda Deadline Location Minutes
January 28, 2015 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes Jaunary 28, 2015
Adobe PDF
April 22, 2015 April 7, 2015 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes April 22, 2015
Adobe PDF
May 25, 2015 May 10, 2015 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes May 22, 2015
Adobe PDF
July 22, 2015 July 7, 2015 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes July 22, 2015
Adobe PDF
October 28, 2015 October 13, 2015 SWVTC Conference Room 2  
January 27, 2016 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes January 27, 2016 Adobe PDF
April 27, 2016 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes April 27, 2016 Adobe PDF
July 27, 2016 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes July 27, 2016 Adobe PDF
October 26, 2016 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes October 26, 2016 Adobe PDF
January 25, 2017 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes January 25, 2017 Adobe PDF
April 26, 2017 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes April 26, 2017 Adobe PDF
June 28, 2017 SWVTC Conference Room 2
PDF Format - LHRC Minutes June 28, 2017 Adobe PDF

The current year of meeting minutes are shown on this page. Archived meeting minutes can be found on the Archived Local Human Rights Committee Meeting Minutes page.

Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect

Any person who has any knowledge or reason to believe that a resident may have been abused or neglected must immediately report this information directly to Dennis Shrewsberry, Director, or his designee. Reason to believe abuse or neglect may have occurred can be based on direct observation, a report made by a resident or staff member, behavioral/physical indicators of abuse or neglect, or by any other means. An allegation of possible resident abuse is so serious that any information regarding it must be given directly to the director of Southwestern Virginia Training Center so that immediate action can be taken to protect residents. The person reporting the allegation should describe the incident as fully as possible, giving the names of any persons involved, the time, date and location of the incident, and the names of any witnesses.

What is Abuse or Neglect

"Abuse" means any act or failure to act by an employee or other person responsible for the care of an individual that was performed or was failed to be performed knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally, and that caused or might have caused physical or psychological harm, injury, or death to an individual receiving services. Examples of abuse include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Rape, sexual assault, or other criminal sexual behavior;
  2. Assault or battery;
  3. Use of language that demeans, threatens, intimidates or humiliates the person;
  4. Misuse or misappropriation of the person's assets, goods or property;
  5. Use of excessive force when placing a person in physical or mechanical restraint;
  6. Use on a person of physical or mechanical restraints that is not in compliance with federal and state laws, regulations, and policies, professionally accepted standards of practice or the person's individualized services plan; and
  7. Use of more restrictive or intensive services or denial of services to punish the person or that is not consistent with his individualized services plan. See § 37.1-1 of the Code of Virginia.

"Neglect" means the failure by an individual, program or facility responsible for providing services to provide nourishment, treatment, care, goods, or services necessary to the health, safety or welfare of a person receiving care or treatment for mental illness, intellectual disabilities or substance abuse. See § 37.1-1 of the Code of Virginia

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