MESSAGE TO PARENTS - YOU
Stop - Take a Breath -
FEATURE ARTICLE: Help
for distraught parents
Note to Parents |
CAICA Recommendations |
Warnings and Questions
Removing a child / Custody issues
Overseas programs |
Help for distraught parents |
Children in the
juvenile justice system
There is a silently emerging multi-billion
dollar a year industry that most people do
not know exists. It is the parent-choice, private-pay "Troubled-Teen"
Tens of thousands of parents each year are placing their children and
residential programs across the US and around the world without realizing
they are getting themselves, and most importantly, their child or teen,
CAICA has received complaints from parents
that their children have been abused
programs. Some have even had
difficulties removing their own child or teen
from a facility, often because of custody issues (please see below).
This is a "buyer
beware" market. There are no
in place to protect
children who are placed into such programs. While the government is
the abuse and deaths of children in programs, currently there is no governmental
If your child,
teen, or family are not in imminent danger CAICA recommends parents:
Stop - Take a Breath -
Reassess and Do Your Research.
recommends doing everything possible before considering sending
a child or teen away. Many parents have said to us, "if I knew then what
now, I would never have sent my child away". There are
options, it is important
parents are aware of what those are.
If your child is in
a program and you have received letters or signs that something is
wrong, but the program is telling you everything is alright, CAICA urges
listen to your
intuition and fully investigate the situation. If there is any sign your
could be in danger CAICA urges parents to visit the program and make the
for their child. If you determine your child has been abused it is
imperative you report
the abuse to the proper local authorities, including Child Protective
Services and the
local police or sheriff. Most abuse in programs goes unreported.
For more information
about reporting abuse, read the
Message to Staff.
family coaching is becoming popular. It is less costly and has proven
beneficial in helping to work through family issues that seemed
Coaching is different from therapy in that coaching does not dig deep
client's past. Rather, the coach looks at where the client is today,
where he or
she would like to be, and helps pave the path to getting there.
coach will provide his or her clients with practices, tools, and
and will work to break barriers between parents and their kids. The coach
the parent to avoid common mistakes, enjoy the teen years, not dread
confidence in their parenting abilities, apply a calm and consistent
communicate effectively, and maintain a relationship with their child or
teen that is
based on mutual trust and respect.
have immediate results for families who find themselves at the end
their rope, ready to send their child away. While we know it will not
family situation, we have heard from a number of families who have
benefited from a
coaching experience and who said, "If I knew then what I know now, I
have sent my child away". Let us learn from the experiences of others.
For more information and to see what parents who have tried coaching are
therapy can also be helpful in some circumstances. Some
beginning to implement a coaching model to their practice because they
finding that it works. If you are seeking out a family therapist, find
out if they
have gone through a coach training program and become certified as a
coach. Parents who find themselves struggling daily with their teens or
do not have the luxury of taking the time to dig into the past to try to
how they got here. They need results now! That's where coaching can help.
Some teens will
benefit from group sessions (therapy and coaching) with their
peers, while others will not attend.
Be aware that
therapists often refer to educational consultants to help them
locate a residential program for their child or teen. Often the
consultant is not
aware of the dangers of the industry and that it is so loosely, and at
at all, regulated. The problem is that unless a person is visiting a
program on a
weekly basis they cannot be assured what they saw when they visited is
It has been reported that some programs start out great - with great
and with qualified staff. Over time they begin to cut corners, hiring
staff - the very staff that are spending hours each day with children.
care in a residential setting is of great concern because, again, there
entity monitoring its daily activities.
Again, it is up
to the parent to do their research.
Wrap-around services, too, are becoming increasingly popular and provide
service to keep children and teens home whenever possible. CAICA suggests
you research to see if one exists in your local area or state.
seeking local help whenever possible. Also, reach out to
friends and family for advise and help. Parenting is a tough job and
no shame in reaching out to those you love and trust for help. As a
once said, "It takes a village to raise a child."
For parents who
have no other choice but to place their child in a program:
CAICA and the US
Department of State warns against
parents sending children
and teens to programs
outside the country.
American laws will not protect your
child if he or she is in another country.
CAICA warns against
parents hiring teen transports for the sake of transporting
children to facilities they themselves have not visited and fully
CAICA warns against
transport companies who pick children
up in the
middle of the
night, taking them from their beds without pre-warning from
parents and without their consent. The effects on a child or teen can be
traumatic and can last a lifetime. CAICA volunteers have spoken to many
people who have not simply "gotten over it", as some would like you to
educational consultants have even told CAICA they believe it is the
only "humane" way to get the kids there. After our many calls from
we would challenge that statement.
There are even those who say the responsibility of "getting over it" is
the child because, after all, it was the child whose actions caused them
be placed in the program in the first place.
Yet the same entity who makes this claim also admits that in most cases,
the parents are equally, if not more, responsible for the breakdown in
Yet it is the pre-teen or teen who is expected to "get over" the trauma
essentially, kidnapped from their beds while they sleep.
Because there are
no Federal Guidelines and the laws that are in place to
protect children have often not applied to this industry, and because we
seen the many accounts of abuse, neglect, an deaths in these facilities,
CAICA cautions parents to explore all viable options prior to placing
their child or
teen into such a program, and if their child is in a program, we
look at the Warning
Signs and Questions to Ask.
If your gut tells you something may be wrong, listen. Parents have regretted
waiting until it was too
It is often
anger and frustration that drives parents to look for a program for
their child. There are people who stand to make a lot of money preying on
desperation. In one case, hundreds of websites lead some parents to the
umbrella of programs that are part of a 133-plaintiff
filed in August 2006.
speaks for itself.
It is important to
remember that the troubled child/teen industry, including
transport companies for children and teens, is virtually unregulated,
no Federal laws to protect the children. There is no entity looking
out for the
safety and well-being of the children that is not financially tied to this industry.
It is the parent's responsibility to
explore all viable options before deciding to
place a child in a facility away from home for what often has been normal
behavior that could be worked through with the help of a good therapist
It is also a
parent's responsibility to listen to their gut and to listen to
- they are not always lying, like the program would like you to believe.
not always manipulating. Sometimes there really is something very wrong
your child or teen, in many instances, has no way to communicate that to
or anyone else who can help them.
And again, it
is the parent's responsibility to
any abuse or neglect their child
experienced or that they witnessed in any residential treatment setting,
boot camps, wilderness programs, positive peer culture programs, behavior
modification programs, residential treatment centers, therapeutic
Removing a child
from a program: Custody issues:
If you are a
parent who is trying to remove a child from a program and are
having difficulties because of custody issues, CAICA recommends you hire
family law attorney
to assist you. We recommend you ask your attorney if
your parental rights have changed based on the program Contract you have
signed. It has been our experience that your rights do not change, but
a question for your lawyer. We recommend providing this website to your
attorney for research purposes. Lawyers can reach CAICA's research team
via e-mail at
recommends you visit
www.ndrn.org and locate the
and Advocacy System (P & A) in your own state. Their services range from
providing information and referrals to legal representation. Each state
in what they offer so a call to your own state is your first step to
seeing if they
can assist you. Look for "Get Help in Your State" and click on the arrow
drop-down menu with a list of states. Choose yours and you will be
to information in your state.
If your child is in
an overseas program please visit the
US State Department Fact
Sheet on programs. Parents can also contact the American Embassy in that
country if they suspect child abuse.
If your child
was mandated by the court to be placed into a program for a set amount
of time, and you believe something is wrong, you can go to your attorney
to plea with
the court to have your child returned home. Locating information about
or any organization associated with the program and providing that
information to your
lawyer will be helpful. Parents are urged to direct their attorney to
this website at
for helpful information, as well as other websites you find useful.
If the judge agrees
to bringing the child home on the condition you, the parent, locate
another program within a set period of time, typically 48 hours, and
attempts to change
the judge's mind are not successful, CAICA strongly urges you to try to
locate a program
close to home, if possible. We do not recommend finding programs via the
CAICA is not a referral agency and does not have programs to refer. We
provide you with
Questions to Ask and Warning Signs so you will know what to
for when choosing a program.
For advocacy for
children or youth with disabilities please go to your
Look for the dropdown where you can choose your state.
CHILDREN IN THE
JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM:
For youth at risk
through the juvenile justice system contact the
NOTE: It has been
brought to our attention that the World Wide Association of
Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS)
is now known as Premier Educational
CAICA is not a
referral service and does not refer children and teens to programs.
CAICA provides resources to parents that can be found on our Links page.
CAICA does not
refer families to transport companies for the sake of transporting
child or teen to a facility.
CAICA Editorial Board