Paris Hilton pushes for child welfare reforms in emotional House testimony: ‘I will not stop until America’s youth are safe’

Paris Hilton says she will “not stop until America’s youth are safe,” delivering emotional testimony against residential treatment facility abuse Wednesday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

“While my experience was not through the foster care system, I know from personal experience the harm that is caused by being placed in youth residential treatment facilities,” the 43-year-old reality TV star testified at the “Strengthening Child Welfare and Protecting America’s Children” hearing at the Longworth House Office Building.

Hilton recounted how she was “ripped” from her bed in the middle of the night at 16 and transported to the first of four such facilities.

“I was force-fed medications and sexually abused by staff. I was violently restrained and dragged down hallways, stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement,” Hilton said.

“My parents were completely deceived — lied to and manipulated by this for-profit industry. So can you only imagine the experience for youth who don’t have anyone checking in on them?” the mom of two asked.

Hilton has become a frequent presence at the Capitol to press for reforms to the residential treatment facility industry. In 2021, she advocated for legislation aimed at establishing a bill of rights for teenagers in congregate care facilities. Hilton joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers last year in Washington to push for the Stop Institutional Child Abuse Act.

“I am here to be the voice for children who currently do not have one, while this committee has the responsibility to move bipartisan solutions forward to protect them,” she told lawmakers on Wednesday.

“For children who do end up in foster care, we cannot allow them to grow up in cold facilities that act like kid prisons,” she added. “The treatment these children have had to endure is criminal. These kids deserve to grow up in safe, family-centered environments.”

“If you are a child in the system, hear my words: I see you, I believe you, I know what you’re going through and I’m not giving up on you,” Hilton said. “You are important, your future is important, and you deserve every opportunity to be safe and supported.”

The otherwise solemn hearing was dotted with moments of levity. At one point, Hilton wished Rep. Mike Carey’s (R-Ohio) mother a happy birthday.

The fashion pro also shared some sartorial praise for Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-N.Y.) blazer, which featured a glittery, checkered pattern.

“I love your jacket. The sparkles are amazing,” Hilton told Tenney.

“Got a little bling here for today,” Tenney replied.

“Yes, I wanted to find out who made it later,” Hilton said with a smile.

A spokesperson for Tenney told ITK that the congresswoman bought her shimmery number from Savale Flowers Antiques in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of the shop’s owners lives in Tenney’s congressional district.

Updated at 3:56 p.m. EDT

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