(This program has locations in: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia)
(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)
We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at AMIkids, Inc.. For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm. If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at AMIkids, Inc., you have the right to take action.
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by AMIkids, Inc., please contact email@example.com if you remember the long-term employees and from which years. This will help! Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.
Please don’t place your loved one in AMIKids, Inc. and rescue them if they are there now.
|Jesse Rigby||Chairman||Rigby is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Daniel J. Thompson||Chairman-Elect||Thompson is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|O.B. Stander||President/CEO||Stander is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Robert S. Weaver||President Emeritus||Weaver is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Judy L. Estren||Vice President||Estren is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|William (Bill) Griffin||Vice President||HEAL requires the middle name of Mr. Griffin in order to verify whether or not he holds any professional licenses in Florida.|
|Melinda Coats||Vice President||Coats is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Heyward D. Golden||Vice President||Golden is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Bob Rosof||Founder||Rosof is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Frank Orlando (Judge)||Founder||HEAL requires Mr. Orlando's middle name in order to verify whether or not he holds any professional licenses in Florida.|
|Louis A de la Parte||Founder||De La Parte is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|Ollie J. Keller||Founder||Keller is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in Florida. Source: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom|
|(AMIkids, Inc., like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices. Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.)|
|These programs have removed their enrollment materials and program details from their websites. This is suspicious. They also admit that behavior modification is a top priority on their agenda. This is a concern. (Source: http://amikids.org/OurApproach.aspx (October 20th, 2010)|
|Article: Abuse Allegations Against AmiKids in Florida (July 2nd, 2013)|
AMIkids Fort Lauderdale Investigation: State-Contracted Staffers Accused Of
Sexual Contact With Troubled Teens
Sun Sentinel | By Mike Clary Posted: 07/02/2013 10:50 am
EDT | Updated: 07/02/2013 1:46 pm EDT
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Florida Department Of Juvenile Justice,
News, Ami Kids,
Amikids Fort Lauderdale Investigation,
Amikids Greater Fort Lauderdale,
Florida News, Miami News
FORT LAUDERDALE -- One female staff member has been fired and an intern
suspended at a private agency that works with troubled youth as the state's
Department of Juvenile Justice continues an investigation into allegations of
inappropriate sexual contact with teenage boys, the agency confirmed Monday.
The women worked for AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale, which is contracted by
the state to help boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who have had
problems in school or with the law. One of the allegations involves a teen who
admitted exchanging inappropriate texts with a staff intern after he was found
to have a sexually revealing picture of the intern on his cellphone, according
to records suppplied by the Juvenile Justice department. The second allegation
involves a staff member who is reportedly in a relationship with a boy in the
program. That staff member was fired Monday, according to Sherri Ulleg, a
spokeswoman for AMIkids. The workers were identified in Juvenile Justice
records as staff member Natalie Persaud and intern Desiree Hall. The
allegations, reported to the state last month, are similar to those outlined
in a June 26 letter from assistant Broward County Public Defender Gordon
Weekes said he wrote to Juvenile Justice department secretary Wansley Walters after hearing from two credible sources "highly disturbing abuse allegations" about sexual relationships at the Fort Lauderdale program. Meghan Speakes Collins, a spokeswoman for the department, said details of the allegations were similar to those in the cases under investigation. In his letter, Weekes said one allegation involves a staff member who reportedly had a child fathered by a teen in the organization's Miami program before she was transferred to the nonprofit group's Fort Lauderdale office. There, she "continues to engage in inappropriate behavior" and is known within the facility as the "cradle robber," alleges the letter from Weekes. "It is alleged that the staff member has been observed by administrators, other staff members and committed youth sitting on the lap of male youths while secreted in administrative offices," wrote Weekes. The second allegation involves nude photographs of an intern found on the cellphone of a student in the program. "The alleged nude photographs were explicit and strongly suggest the existence of an inappropriate and unlawful relationship between a staff member in a position of authority and trust and a youth," said Weekes in the letter. Weekes received confirmation of his letter to the department late Monday only after news reporters began to inquire, Collins confirmed. "Obviously the first priority is the safety of our kids, so we take these allegations incredibly seriously," said Ulleg. Weekes said he remained troubled by the slow response to the allegations by the state and AMIkids. "These are kids are at a crossroads of their lives, they need some guidance," he said, "and if staff members are taking advantage of them, that is not appropriate." Founded in Fort Lauderdale in 1969 by now-retired juvenile court judge Frank Orlando, AMIkids until 2009 was known as the Associated Marine Institutes. It now operates 45 programs in several states from headquarters in Tampa.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-356-4465 ___ (c)2013 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
Manager of Florida AMIKids location reports:
AMIkids Reviews | Glassdoor "Worst managed organization that I have ever been a part of . Stay away. I found myself concerned for the kids safety often and my credentials as a clinician. I do not recommend under current management. Advice to Management Get new management. Leadership cares more about the ceremonial process of the business than the kids themselves. No vision and direction. No leadership." Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/AMIkids-Reviews-E338179.htm
Director of Florida AMIKids location reports:
AMIkids Reviews | Glassdoor "More about money then children. They have become more and more of a business then a program that is designed to help and rehabilitate young troubled youth. Advice to Management Think more of the children then the money you can save. Think of how valuable a staff member is and how loyalty and quality outweighs finance. Remember the children." Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/AMIkids-Reviews-E338179.htm
Direct Care Professional (DCP) of Florida AMIKids location reports:
AMIkids Reviews | Glassdoor "Staff not consistent with rules, lead staff talking to the youth about other staff in a negative way, staff that have no idea what is really needed to make a successful program work, the staff that follow the rules are often undermined with statics of subjugation and defamation, old dogs with lots of tricks to secure their positions, often they have no degrees and are threatened by those that do. Advice to Management Poor professionalism, do not support staff, seem to cover up allot of wrong behaviors by the buddy system, lack reports of abuse to hide from corporate and dcf djj" Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/AMIkids-Reviews-E338179.htm
Sounds like the same types of reports and problems at other facilities on our watch-list. There is no good facility. These are modern day orphanages. Do better by your kids and raise them yourself.
|Into the wilderness: Secretive South Carolina camps come under scrutiny following teen's death By Jennifer Berry Hawes and Glenn Smith email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Oct 8, 2017 Updated Oct 9, 2017 (…) Buy Now LeKendryck, 16, leads a walk to the dorm building at AMIkids White Pines wilderness camp in Jonesville, S.C. in May. A teen was reportedly beaten during an escape attempt from the camp for juvenile offenders last year. Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at AMIkids Sand Hills in Chesterfield County. This is one of his mother's favorite pictures of her oldest child. Provided. By Jennifer Berry Hawes Freddie Pough is acting director of the state Department of Juvenile Justice. Provided. By Glenn Smith firstname.lastname@example.org The phone call interrupted her as she removed her son’s laundry from a dryer. Just five weeks had passed since a probation violation had landed him at a remote wilderness camp for small-time juvenile offenders. His original crime: stealing candy from a Kmart. On the line was another boy also detained at AMIkids Sand Hills, a remote patch of grey clapboard buildings nestled deep in the woods of South Carolina’s rural Chesterfield County. “You got to get up here.” The boy sounded frantic. “He’s not breathing!” The boy shrieked her 16-year-old son’s name. His voice cracked with panic. “Please breathe. Breathe. Breathe!” As Shadeana Seagers hugged the phone to her ear that night in November 2015, her son lay dying on the concrete floor of a cabin about 140 miles from their Ladson home. Before she could reach him, Del’Quan Seagers was gone. +8 AMIkids Georgetown faces highest recidivism rate in South Carolina GEORGETOWN — The camp here doesn’t sit in a remote area like most others. Forty miles up the coast from Mount Pleasant, it’s also smaller, a c… +13 State cannot say how many teens escape wilderness camps JONESVILLE — James Walden and his family were standing in his yard on a sunny spring afternoon in April last year when a teenager, a stranger,… Some states move away from wilderness camps State auditors recommended that South Carolina study moving away from the use of wilderness camps, as other states have done. Almost two years have passed since that day, but lingering questions about Del’Quan’s death have sparked fresh scrutiny of the little-known network of wilderness camps and marine institutes bankrolled by the state Department of Juvenile Justice. The episode led to a stinging rebuke of the agency for failing to thoroughly investigate claims that foul play was involved in the death of a teen in its custody. Del'Quan's death also exposed a web of secrecy that surrounds such tragedies, making it almost impossible for the public to get answers about teen fatalities that occur on the state’s watch. And it contributed to mounting concerns about DJJ’s ability to monitor the private companies that run most of the camps. Juvenile justice officials defend the camps as a vital tool for helping wayward teens get back on track. They maintain that the facilities are well-run and that critics have latched onto technicalities and misconceptions. A Post and Courier investigation, however, found DJJ doesn’t have a clear, reliable system for documenting problems at its camps. The agency doesn’t track assaults at the facilities. It has basic numbers on deaths and escapes, but detailed reports on the incidents are scattered about the agency and unavailable for immediate review, an agency lawyer told the newspaper. Legislative Audit Council review of DJJ The Legislative Audit Council released a review of the state Department of Juvenile Justice earlier this year that found DJJ did not properly … A state audit released this year found similar problems, along with “a significant lack of oversight of juveniles” at DJJ facilities, including the nine camps. What’s more, the Florida-based company that runs most of the camps — including the one where Del’Quan Seagers died — has faced well-publicized problems at its programs in other states, including a riot and various assaults. Some states have moved away from using the programs. State lawmakers reacted with alarm at the Legislative Audit Council’s findings. Many knew little to nothing about the camps, which cost about $1.5 million each to run every year. “We saw an entire corner of state government with simply no or little oversight,” said Rep. Micah Caskey, a West Columbia Republican who attended a House review of the findings. “We don’t really even know what incidents are going on there.” +16 Buy Now Shadeana Seagers looks down at a tattoo of her son Del' Quan, who died at a wilderness camp in Chesterfield County in November 2015. Michael Pronzato/ Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com Shadeana Seagers can relate to his frustration. She has battled to get information about her son’s death and convince authorities that foul play was involved. After some uncertainty, an autopsy ultimately concluded Del’Quan died of asthma. But Seagers doesn’t believe it — not after getting word from another boy at the camp that her son had been beaten shortly before he collapsed that night. She tried to tell authorities, but no one took her seriously, she said. “They looked at him as just another troubled teen,” Seagers said. Mysterious camps The wilderness camps have been around in South Carolina since the mid-1980s and serve as a mainstay of DJJ’s efforts to rehabilitate non-violent young offenders outside of traditional prison settings. The state launched several of the camps in the wake of a lawsuit that alleged overcrowding, physical abuse and inadequate medical care at DJJ's secure detention centers. That case, which essentially accused the state of warehousing youths in prison slums, also led to a decade of federal monitoring of the agency. In contrast, the camps have no jail cells, no barbed wire to confine kids. Despite their names, the remote outposts aren’t like an Outward Bound program. They don’t train youths to identify edible plants, find water or start campfires. Their goal is to instill discipline and skills, and DJJ officials insist they serve as a key alternative to incarceration for many young offenders. “The kid with a shoplifting charge, I’m not sure should be behind the wire,” said Freddie Pough, DJJ’s acting director. “Our wilderness camps and alternative placements are crucial.” +16 Buy Now Terese, 18, (right) fixes a computer screen with the help of Robert, 17, (center) and Decarlos, 17, in the Information Technology Center at AMIkids White Pines, a wilderness camp in Union County. Michael Pronzato/Staff By: Michael Pronzato firstname.lastname@example.org For most people, however, the camps remain as unknown as the dense forests that surround them. Lawmakers, prosecutors, police, youth advocates. Most, when contacted, had only a vague notion of the camps and their mission — even though 1,726 children from across South Carolina had been sent to the facilities over the past three years. That’s because the privately run camps operate mostly beyond the eyes of the general public — a recipe for abuse, child advocates said, because the teens inside them are so vulnerable. “A lot of what happens in juvenile justice systems happens behind closed doors,” said Jessica Feierman, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit law firm for children. “It’s our job in the public to ensure those facilities are providing services and not causing harm.” The system-wide audit of DJJ caught many by surprise this year when it unearthed disturbing flaws at the camps, including how Del’Quan’s death was handled. Among other things, the Legislative Audit Council’s 116-page report revealed: DJJ’s inspector general failed to investigate claims that foul play was involved in Del’Quan’s death or report that information to the State Law Enforcement Division. The State Child Fatality Advisory Committee also did not review his death. DJJ struggled with “inaccurate and incomplete data." The agency couldn’t readily produce statistics on sexual assaults, escapes and deaths at its camps. It also couldn’t locate investigative files on Del’Quan’s death. Camp staff had failed to quickly notify law enforcement and DJJ when teens escaped. DJJ had no mechanism in its contracts for assessing how well the camps were doing their jobs or levying penalties for poor performance. The auditors recommended studying whether to continue using the wilderness camps at all, noting that other states, including Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, were moving away from this approach. At a tense House subcommittee meeting in January, DJJ’s then-director, Sylvia Murray, tried to assure lawmakers that her agency already was making improvements. “These kids are safe,” she said. “These kids are developing skills.” But State Rep. Katie Arrington, a Summerville Republican now running for Congress, fired back: “We had a kid die. There’s a kid dead. So, no, we’re failing.” Murray resigned the next day. Nine months later, DJJ remains without a permanent director. Buy Now Trysten, 15, pulls in the front line with his team from AMIkids White Pines as they compete in tug-of-war during a summer challenge event at South Carolina State in June. The event was held by AMIkids, a private Florida-based nonprofit that operates six wilderness camps in the state. Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com Grappling with trauma Like most children sent to the wilderness camps, Del’Quan Seagers was grappling with trauma when he arrived at Sand Hills. Two years earlier, his 36-year-old father had been gunned down on Meeting Street in Charleston. Police never caught the killer. Del’Quan became more rebellious after that. In 2013, he got caught stealing candy. After violating probation, he landed at his first DJJ wilderness camp, AMIkids Georgetown. His mother called the camp every day. She appreciated the director’s attention to her son. She liked that the camp gave him structure. It gave her hope. +16 Del'Quan Seagers visits the grave of his father, Cleveland Richardson, who was gunned down in Charleston two years before Del'Quan suddenly died at a wilderness camp. Provided By Jennifer Berry Hawes Del’Quan felt that, too. He wrote her with promises to do better. “I am soo soo sorry for what I did to you,” he wrote in one. “I really did hurt you. I could of tell you was hurt when we been on the phone together. I was upset also I cried all day because I thought of you and the family. I felt like I let you and everyone else down and mostly myself.” Del’Quan was, in many ways, the archetype of boys sent to the camp. He was African-American. He was 14 years old, the average age. He stayed for three months, the average stay. He completed the program and went back home. And like most, he got in trouble again. When he violated his probation again by skipping school and ignoring his curfew, a judge sent him to AMIkids Sand Hills. Del’Quan died less than two months later. Mixed results Sand Hills is one of six camps in South Carolina run by AMIkids, a nonprofit based in Tampa, Fla., that has been around for almost 50 years. The company operates in nine states, though South Carolina is home to nearly half of its remaining 15 residential programs. Other states have begun to move away from the wilderness camp model in favor of more community-based approaches. Fifteen AMIkids programs closed in 2013 alone. Big Cypress Wilderness Institute in Florida, plagued by staff shortages and inadequate training, closed after multiple staff assaults on youth and a riot in 2016. The South Carolina camps don’t come cheap. Altogether, they cost about $15.5 million in budget year 2015-16 compared with $23.7 million for DJJ’s detention center in Columbia, according the auditors’ report. +16 Buy Now Malachi, 16, and Jordan, 16, walk outside through the dorms at AMIkids Sand Hills in Patrick S.C. Michael Pronzato/ Staff By Michael Pronzato firstname.lastname@example.org DJJ officials expressed faith in AMIkids and they insisted the camps provide a valuable service. During visits to the camps, staffers introduced Post and Courier reporters to teens such as 16-year-old Jordan, sent to Sand Hills after seeking fast money by breaking into cars. Jordan, who spoke on the condition his last name not be used, said the camp helped him learn more self-control and how to pick friends wisely. The hardest part: thinking of consequences before getting into fights. “When I first got here, I couldn’t do that,” he admitted. However, research on wilderness camps across the nation is mixed. Though promising results emerge for some, experts said the data is inconclusive as to whether the camps produce long-term results. Arrington and other South Carolina lawmakers want DJJ to better measure AMIkids’ performance. But she doesn’t want to abandon the camps. She recently toured several and found they offer critical services to youths who have committed lesser crimes. “AMI is our best shot,” she said, “because there’s no way DJJ has the ability internally to care for these kids.” +16 State Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Summerville. File/Provided Secrecy shrouds violent episodes Measuring performance, however, can be difficult when statistics and other key information goes unreported or is shrouded from public view due to the state’s juvenile privacy laws. In Union County last year, officials at Camp White Pines didn’t notify local police when a teen was allegedly beaten after an escape. A neighbor did so. The camp didn’t notify DJJ immediately either. The local sheriff did. Even then, several camp staff wound up charged with falsifying information about the escape, according to their arrest warrants. “It is not uncommon for camp escapees to be on the run, yet these events are rarely brought to the attention of the public,” the auditors’ report said. Union County Sheriff David Taylor agreed. “By the time we heard about it," he said, "the person would be in a dadgum other county.” Another case involved an alleged assault at AMIkids Beaufort in 2014. A teen accused a camp staffer of slapping and tackling him, then shoving an elbow into his jaw. Local police responded — after a concerned emergency room nurse called. +16 Buy Now Several boys who live at AMIkids White Pines walk to the dorm section of Camp 2, which serves boys with more intensive psychosocial needs. Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com Officials at Sand Hills did call 911 when Del’Quan Seagers collapsed in 2015, because he wasn’t breathing. But it still took The Post and Courier nearly seven months this year to track down his name, find his mother and learn details of his death due to state privacy laws and confusion among authorities about what constitutes public information. News of his death went unreported to the public until it surfaced in the auditors' report, which did not name him, state his hometown or say how he died. SLED later refused to provide The Post and Courier with information about its probe into his death, citing a little-known exemption in the state Freedom of Information Act that shields its Department of Child Fatalities cases from public view. DJJ pledged in April to look for its reports concerning his death, but cautioned that juvenile confidentiality laws would limit what the agency could share. As of Friday, The Post and Courier was still waiting for those documents. The Chesterfield County Coroner’s Office referred calls to the county attorney, and the county sheriff’s office took two months to provide an incident report on the death. Del’Quan’s name, however, was redacted from the document, though County Attorney Heath Ruffner gave no justification under the FOIA law for doing so. The report shed little light on the incident. It stated that residents and staff heard a crash from the dorm’s front room while they were gathered in the sleeping quarters. They went to investigate and spotted a youth on the floor gasping for air. The report noted that deputies had campers and staff write statements about the incident. The county also refused to hand those statements over to The Post and Courier. The newspaper ultimately learned Del’Quan’s name by searching obituaries. Around that time, Shadeana Seagers had typed a post on the website Forever Missed expressing her frustration with the lack of answers in her son’s death. “Delquan Malik Seagers being without you breaks my heart everytime i think about you ... losing you was more painful then having you,” she wrote. She ended with a final thought in all caps about authorities telling her Del’Quan died due to natural causes. “I REALLY THINK SOMETHING BAD HAPPEN TO MY SON.” Then she added, “I PRAY THAT ONE DAY I WILL HAVE PEACE IN MY HEART.” +16 Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at one of South Carolina's wilderness camps. He was sent to AMIkids Sand Hills in Chesterfield County after violating probation for stealing candy. He collapsed in his dorm five weeks later. Provided. By Jennifer Berry Hawes Frustrated family For almost two years, Seagers had tried to convince authorities her son might have died from a gang-inflicted punishment that involves holding a person’s arms behind him while others beat him on the chest. The punishment isn’t supposed to kill. But she believes it did. She learned this, she said, from the boy who called her as Del’Quan lay dying. That night, the boy sent Facebook messages to a friend, and her teenage daughter saw social media chatter saying that Del’Quan had been assaulted. Seagers saved those messages in screenshots that she showed The Post and Courier. In one, the teen who called her told another boy that Del’Quan had “just been unconscious like some body been hitting bra rapidly in his chest he been gasping for air.” “Damn her get gang,” the other responded. The day after Del’Quan’s death, as his friends and family woke to the news, condolences poured onto his Facebook page. Some talked about him getting jumped by other teens at the camp. “Y’all didn’t have to thug him like that,” one person posted. “DelQuan been a good brother.” It continued after the funeral of the boy many simply called Del. A year later, the teen who called Seagers that night sent a Facebook message to one of her son’s friends. “Bro on my grandmother head. Them boy said Del lied on the 5, so they gave Del A Violation,” he typed, according to Seagers’ screenshots. The “5” referred to a certain gang; “violation” referred to a punishment they doled out. “If you notice Del ain’t had no bruises like somebody beat him up cause they was giving him hits to the chest an (expletive) bra up.” When Seagers saw that, she too messaged the teen. “Can you please tell me what happen to Delquan,” she wrote. “Ima just put it like this Del ain’t die from no heart attaxk or none of that,” he responded. Nobody else was around when he found Del’Quan on the floor, he said. But he refused to say names. Another teen had threatened to kill him, he typed. After Seagers spoke to The Post and Courier, she asked the boy if he’d talk with a reporter. He said no. “When I told y’all what happen everybody had a debate on An didn’t believe me at I won’t make up nothing bout how a person die ma’am that is nothing to play with you lost ur son that is serious I wouldn’t lie An tell u a story I know is fake,” he typed back. But he was done with it now. “I got a life to live.” Lifting a veil AMIkids Sand Hills sits in Chesterfield County almost at the North Carolina border in a swath of the state where ribbons of two-lane highways string together little country towns framed by cotton and hay fields. The camp is aptly named. Deep in the woods, its oval of single-story clapboard structures, all grey and unadorned, sits on top of a barren patch of sand. A basketball hoop and volleyball net rise up in the center. A bulwark of pine trees surrounds the campus. After a reporter asked to see the place where Del’Quan died, two officials from the Florida headquarters of AMIkids traveled to the campus in Patrick to provide a tour. The camp’s director joined in. Two teenagers, chosen by the staff, led the way. They headed for Dorm 1, not Dorm 3, where Del’Quan collapsed that night in 2015. The dorms, they said, are all the same. The 29 boys sent there slept and hung out in three dorms that can house 10 boys each. Other buildings contained education, administrative, medical and vocational training programs. Inside the cabin-like dorms lay a spartan open space with concrete floors, yellow walls, a stack of plastic chairs, and a small TV. A second door across the room led to barracks-like sleeping quarters with four bunk beds and two twins. It wasn’t meant to be overly comfortable, but the campers were expected to treat the space with respect. Corners to bedcovers must be tucked. Clothes must be put into lockers. Campers earn points and rankings based on behavior, school achievement and meeting personal goals. The idea is to teach that positive responses to situations yield positive results, like earning extra privileges. Boys who act out reap negative results such as extra work details or delays in going home. All of AMIkids’ wilderness camps in the state work roughly the same way. “It’s all dependent on the young man and his mindset,” said Rickie Hardy, a linebacker of a man who heads up AMIkids’ camps in South Carolina. “Everything is earned. Nothing is given.” Boys sent to Sand Hills are, on average, 15 to 16. About 80 percent arrive behind academically. They’ve committed such crimes as breaking and entering, truancy and probation violations. No murderers, arsonists or purveyors of other violent crimes, Hardy said. On average, they stay for six months. Two 16-year-old boys led the tour. Jordan had earned the highest rank of any youth there — lieutenant — and, after 15 months, would go home soon. His partner, Malachi, had arrived two months earlier. Under the watchful eyes of several adults, the boys appeared eager to describe the camp and how it had helped them. Malachi, a chatty teen with a mischievous grin, arrived after violating probation for truancy. He didn’t have a lot of positive role models and fell in with a crowd that liked to ditch school with him. “But being here has taught me a lot about discipline,” he said. Jordan said he wanted to go home but knew it wouldn’t be easy. He used to spend his time in the streets with friends — and those friends still would be in those streets when he returned. “I’ll spend more time with my family and just go to school and stay away from the streets,” he said. +16 Buy Now Malachi, 16, and Jordan, 16, walk outside through the dorms at AMIkids Sand Hills in Patrick, S.C. Michael Pronzato/ Staff By Michael Pronzato firstname.lastname@example.org Like the boys at other AMIkids’ wilderness camps in South Carolina, Jordan and Malachi took classes through a self-paced online school and could get help from a certified teacher in each classroom. They also could earn certifications in things like carpentry and phlebotomy. The camp’s chief educational goals: Give each teen a leg up in school and qualifications to find a job back at home. But most of the boys hadn’t only fallen behind in school. Nearly all arrived with untreated wounds of trauma, grief and instability as well. Most needed anger management classes. So nearby, in the equally stark treatment building, human service professionals sat at desks positioned in each corner of a big room. A side office had a punching bag. The boys all had counseling plans. Lolita Gray, the camp’s director, took pride in the staff’s work. She also defended their handling of Del’Quan’s death. “It was unfortunate, but they did a wonderful job,” she said. That day left them all grieving deeply, she said. “It’s heartbreaking. I’ve been doing this for 17 years ...” Gray said, tearing up. “It’s one thing you never want to happen, but I say that we did the best that we could do as a staff. ... But it’s hurtful, especially when you want to help kids.” AMIkids officials later issued a statement maintaining that their top priority “is the safety of the youth we serve, our staff and the community.” Their employees cooperated fully with authorities, and they weren’t found at fault in Del’Quan’s death, the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his mother and loved ones as they mourn this terrible loss.” A framed picture of Del’Quan still sits in the camp’s administrative office. It shows him wearing his burgundy AMIkids shirt. It is the last photograph his mother has of him. +16 Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at AMIkids Sand Hills. This picture was taken two days before he collapsed in his dorm and is the last photograph his mother has of him. Provided. By Jennifer Berry Hawes Cause of death An autopsy conducted on Del’Quan at the Medical University of South Carolina found evidence of chronic asthma and a birth defect that caused his heart to enlarge. Pathologist Lee Marie also noted bleeding on the surface of his heart, which she attributed to extended CPR. Still, she found no broken bones in his chest or other evidence of lethal injury. Her preliminary opinion: His death was best classified as “undetermined.” A group of pathologists reviewed the teen’s case a few months later and concluded he died from asthma, according to an addendum to her report. But did they have all the information they needed to reach that conclusion? There is no mention in the report about suspicions that Del’Quan had been beaten on the chest before he collapsed. She noted only that paramedics had been called to the camp to help with a possible asthma attack. Seagers said she distinctly remembered telling Chesterfield County Coroner Kip Kiser about the assault rumors the morning after her son died. It was Thanksgiving Day. Kiser had called her to see if Del’Quan had any health issues. She mentioned asthma, adding that Del’Quan didn’t need medications regularly. He hadn’t had problems with it for more than a year. He had just been playing basketball at the camp two days earlier. She told Kiser that other teens were talking on Facebook about Del’Quan being beaten before his death, she said. It is unclear whether Kiser shared that information with the pathologist who conducted Del’Quan’s autopsy. Kiser did not return phone calls from The Post and Courier, and the county attorney did not respond to a question about what the pathologist was told. Failure to pass on such key information can lead to autopsy errors, said Judy Melinek, a board-certified forensic pathologist who is unaffiliated with the case. She has consulted and testified in criminal and civil cases around the country. “Without a thorough history, a forensic pathologist can make mistakes, either by ascribing too much importance to injuries that appear serious, but are the result of medical therapy, or by overlooking subtle forensic findings and trace evidence that are the signs of foul play,” Melinek said. For instance, if she had known of an alleged assault, Melinek said, she would have probed whether a strong punch to the chest had caused “commotio cordis,” in which the heart stops suddenly due to a disturbance at a vulnerable moment in its electrical rhythm. “This can occur in a normal heart, but in cases where individuals have abnormalities, such as an enlarged heart ... it may be more likely,” Melinek said. She also questioned if CPR could have masked findings of an asthma attack severe enough to kill the teenager, as the pathologist noted. “Without a thorough investigation into what was happening in the camp to this teenager prior to his collapse, you can't distinguish between a natural death, an accident or a homicide,” Melinek said. When The Post and Courier contacted Tormos, now an associate medical examiner at the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner Office in Florida, she referred questions back to the coroner. +16 Buy Now A classroom full of books at AMIkids Sand Hills. File/Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com 'That's the alarm' Del’Quan’s family doesn’t believe he died of natural causes. And they say they’ve seen no evidence that anyone ever looked into the possibility that he had been assaulted. “It just seems like a cover-up to me,” his aunt Sheila Seagers said. Freddie Pough, the acting DJJ director, told lawmakers during the January audit hearing that agency investigators relied on the autopsy report’s findings when deciding not to forward the case on for further review. Pough later told The Post and Courier that staff went back to the coroner when allegations of foul play surfaced, but the coroner maintained the death was due to natural causes. The fact that DJJ relied on the autopsy without conducting its own investigation or notifying other law enforcement agencies of the assault accusations shocked state Rep. Micah Caskey, a former prosecutor. +16 State Rep. Micah Caskey, R-West Columbia. Provided. By Glenn Smith firstname.lastname@example.org “That’s the alarm. That should be the holy crap, this is over our heads,” he said. After state auditors rebuked DJJ’s lack of investigation, they sent the allegations to SLED, whose findings remain hidden from the public. DJJ spokesman Patrick Montgomery would not address the assault allegations directly, saying, “DJJ cannot discuss rumors pertaining to juveniles.” But Montgomery reiterated that law enforcement and an autopsy concluded that Del’Quan died a natural death. Del’Quan’s mother, however, remains unconvinced. She hired an attorney: Democratic state Rep. Justin Bamberg, best known for representing the families of Walter Scott, Alton Sterling and Keith Scott, all black men killed in separate incidents by police officers. Bamberg noted that when Seagers retained him in August, less than three months remained before the statute of limitations would have run out for her to take legal action against the state, if she decides to do so. “A mother and a community deserve answers,” Bamberg said. “The citizens of our state need to know that DJJ and the independent parties it contracts with will uphold their obligations to our children instead of, as here, allowing a child to die alone, afraid and with the true facts buried alongside him in a grave." Deanna Pan contributed to this report. Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/into-the-wilderness-secretive-south-carolina-camps-come-under-scrutiny/article_e9e8da2e-879f-11e7-bdde-4fcffb67388d.html|
|Former supervisor notified wilderness camp officials that witness said boy who died had been assaulted By Jennifer Berry Hawes email@example.com Jennifer Hawes Oct 22, 2017 Updated 2 hrs ago (0) Buy Now Malachi, 16, and Jordan, 16, walk outside through the dorms at AMIkids Sand Hills in Patrick. Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato firstname.lastname@example.org Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at one of South Carolina's wilderness camps. He was sent to AMIkids Sand Hills in Chesterfield County after violating probation for stealing candy. He collapsed in his dorm five weeks later. Provided Dwight Marshall, a former supervisor at AMIkids Sand Hills, says he sent a report to DJJ and camp officials detailing a student's claims that Del'Quan Seagers had been assaulted before he died. Provided Buy Now Lolita Gray is executive director of AMIkids Sand Hills, a privately run juvenile justice wilderness camp in Chesterfield County. File/Staff Buy Now Sheila Seagers and Shadeana Seagers, grandmother and mother of Del'Quan, embrace a photo of him in September. He died at AMIkids Sand Hills two years ago, and his mother has been fighting to convince authorities that foul play was involved. Michael Pronzato/Staff By Michael Pronzato email@example.com prev next Two weeks after 16-year-old Del'Quan Seagers died at a wilderness camp for juvenile offenders in remote Chesterfield County, another boy nervously approached his staff mentor to talk. He'd seen what happened that day in November 2015. Four other teenagers had punched Del'Quan multiple times at the privately run camp before he bent over, walked to another room and collapsed, the boy said. The boy's mentor was Dwight Marshall, then a direct care staff supervisor at AMIkids Sand Hills, a cluster of grey clapboard buildings that house low-level juvenile offenders. Marshall said he detailed the boy's account in a report that he sent to the state Department of Juvenile Justice's director and the Florida headquarters of AMIkids. The nonprofit corporation runs the camp and five others like it for DJJ. Marshall said he received no response from either. "Nothing," he said. Marshall reached out to The Post and Courier after reading its Oct. 8 report "Into the wilderness," which revealed a web of secrecy shrouding fatalities and assaults at the state's little-known network of wilderness camps. Until then, Marshall said he didn't know that Del'Quan's mother, Shadeana Seagers, had pressed authorities to investigate another teen's claims that her son died after an assault. Authorities have maintained that Del'Quan died of natural causes. "Ms. Seagers needs answers," Marshall said. "She's been lied to. I've been lied to." DJJ spokesman Patrick Montgomery said the state agency wouldn't discuss any investigation into the teen's death and it "has no record of receiving an event report from an AMI staff member with these allegations." AMIkids didn't respond to specific questions about the report. A state audit released this year slammed DJJ’s inspector general for failing to investigate claims that foul play was involved in Del’Quan’s death or report that information to the State Law Enforcement Division. The auditors also stated that DJJ could not locate or produce investigative files related to the episode. For months, the only publicly available document pertaining to Del'Quan's death had been a Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office incident report. It described how teens in his dorm heard a crash and found Del'Quan on the floor of another room after he went to put items in a closet. The report made no mention of an assault. The Post and Courier on Thursday, however, obtained DJJ investigative reports and the results of a SLED inquiry this year prompted by the audit. The documents came from an outside source after SLED refused to provide its files to the newspaper, citing juvenile confidentiality. The newspaper also filed an open records request for the DJJ reports back in February, but the agency still had not complied with that request as of Friday. The records obtained through the source detail interviews conducted earlier this year with several, but not all, of the boys who were in the dorm the night Del'Quan died. The boys' accounts vary dramatically. One insisted Del'Quan was beaten and killed. Two referenced a gang-related "game" that involved beating Del'Quan on the chest and arm. Two echoed the official accounts. Another boy told his mother he had witnessed a murder at Sand Hills. Yet he told a SLED agent that he heard a lot of "thumping and stuff" from the room where Del'Quan collapsed but didn't see what happened. Yet another told two different stories that both ended with him not seeing Del'Quan collapse. He said he lied in his first account because a staff member supervising the dorm "asked them all to lie about the events" so he wouldn't lose his job. The staffer denied that to SLED. AMIkids spokesman Joseph Gallina issued a statement to The Post and Courier: "Moving forward, AMIkids will not be commenting on allegations or speculation made by former employees. We fully participated with all agencies that conducted investigations into the tragic death of Del’Quan, and we were found not at fault. Given the gravity of the situation that tragic night, we commend our staff’s response in following AMIkids and DJJ’s protocols in notifying the proper authorities and Ms. Seagers in a timely manner." Coming forward Marshall's report, however, raises fresh questions about how seriously AMIkids officials took the assault allegations. Marshall chronicled his conversation with the teen who came to him shortly after Del'Quan died. The boy was terrified that other campers would harm him if he was labeled a snitch. "I told him somebody lost their life, man, a parent lost their child," Marshall wrote. The boy started to cry, then explained that an assault occurred after Del’Quan returned to the dorm after cleaning the cafeteria that night. Four boys who lived with them hit him multiple times. Del'Quan "lost his breath and told the students to stop hitting him, but (two boys) hit him one more time,” the report stated. Del’Quan bent over and said, “Man y’all hit me too hard that time,” according to the report. The staff member who was in their barracks-like sleeping quarters told the teens to get to bed. Del’Quan walked into an adjacent room, apparently unsupervised. They heard a noise and found him unresponsive on the floor. Later, the boys spoke “about how they got lucky about not being caught up in the death,” the report stated. Marshall, a Navy veteran, said he notified camp Executive Director Lolita Gray of the boy's account. He didn't know it at the time, but the account closely matched that of another teen who had called Del'Quan's mother from the dorm after his death. Gray assured him that Del'Quan had died of heart failure "and that the investigation was already done, and the autopsy report was complete also,” Marshall wrote in his report. In fact, the Medical University of South Carolina pathologist who conducted the teen's autopsy determined asthma was to blame for his death. She made no mention in her reports about a possible assault. It remains unclear whether the Chesterfield County coroner or others even told her of the allegations. She attributed bruising on Del'Quan's heart to CPR. Del'Quan died five weeks after a judge sent him to Sand Hills for stealing candy and then violating probation by not going to school or following his mother's curfew. About two months after his death, Marshall wrote a second report for AMIkids, which he said was accompanied by internal documents detailing problems at the camp. He complained that boys used an empty dorm on campus as their fighting ring, smoking den and illicit cell phone hideout. Some staff came to work drunk and gave alcohol to juveniles. Student escapes went unnoticed for hours. Fights were common, he stated. Then he wrote: “Students are one riot away" from taking over the camp. “Before another student dies at the hands of abusive juveniles or another parent (has) to receive another disturbing phone call, please look into these problems at Camp Sand Hills,” Marshall wrote. He provided The Post and Courier copies of both reports. DJJ told the newspaper for months that it had no mechanism for tracking assaults at its wilderness camps. But on Thursday, agency spokesman Montgomery told the newspaper that DJJ had received reports of 27 assaults and fights at Sand Hills over the past two years. Four current and former Sand Hills employees, however, told The Post and Courier that the actual number is much higher. They said they often saw fights and boys with black eyes, bruises and other injuries. They said the camp is chronically under-staffed, and employees aren't adequately trained. Reports of serious incidents are discouraged and often aren't passed along to AMIkids headquarters or DJJ, current and former employees said. Three months after he filed his report about Del'Quan's death, Marshall said, the camp's director fired him. AMIkids' spokesman said the company wouldn't comment further. "I know it's connected," Marshall said. He now works for his local water company. Moving forward AMIkids operates six wilderness camps in South Carolina that cost about $1.5 million to run each year. They serve as a mainstay of DJJ’s efforts to rehabilitate non-violent young offenders outside of traditional prison settings, and most operate in remote outposts beyond the public's eye. That began to change earlier this year when the state Legislative Audit Council released a scathing report on the juvenile justice agency, which is now the subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation. Members of a House oversight subcommittee also promised renewed scrutiny of the agency and its programs. "The safety of the children in the state’s care is paramount," said state Rep. Eddie Tallon, a Spartanburg Republican who chairs the panel. In March, several weeks after the auditors presented their findings, the national head of AMIkids sent Tallon a letter assuring him that its staff responded to Del'Quan's death in full compliance with protocol. "The Chesterfield Coroner (and the family's private autopsy) confirmed the juvenile died from the genetic heart defect. His father had previously died with the same heart condition diagnosis," AMIkids CEO O.B. Stander wrote in a letter obtained by The Post and Courier. The letter contained errors beyond the cause of death. Del'Quan's mother said the family had no private autopsy done. And his father died of a gunshot wound to the head. In the wake of the episode, Tallon and others have introduced a bill requiring the camps to report deaths to SLED, local law enforcement, and the county coroner within 24 hours. DJJ also now must give lawmakers monthly statistical reports about events at the camps. The agency's director resigned the day after the auditors' report was released. Gov. Henry McMaster has confidence that her replacement, Acting Director Freddie Pough, is making needed changes, a spokesman said. Already, DJJ has enacted 91 percent of the auditors' recommendations, he added. “Director Pough is committed to change and is the right person to lead the agency towards better fulfilling its mission of protecting and rehabilitating the juveniles in its care," McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said in an email. DJJ's Montgomery added that his agency will continue its regular audits of the camps. "They are a direct reflection of DJJ, and we entrust children into their care," he said. Family seeks answers After Del'Quan's death, Marshall wanted to give the teen's mother a jersey and a basketball he'd used at the camp. But a search of Del'Quan's file turned up no contact information for his mom, said Marshall, who was the camp's basketball coach. Two camp supervisors would later tell The Post and Courier they had seen an employee remove documents from his file the night he died. Marshall said no one at the camp would tell him how to reach Del'Quan's family. Gray, the camp director, told him: "I don't think that's a good idea," Marshall recalled. He said he left the items with Gray. Shadeana Seagers said she never received them. "She stopped answering the phone for me," Seagers said. "I asked her for the coach's number, but she said she didn't have it." No one at the camp, DJJ or AMIkids informed her of Marshall's report, Seagers said. Nobody told her about the auditors' report either until The Post and Courier contacted her. Seagers hired an attorney, Democratic state Rep. Justin Bamberg, to find out what else she hadn't been told. “This reeks of a cover up," Bamberg said. “The deeper you dig into this, there’s a good chance somebody ought to be charged." Del'Quan's family just wants answers. “The whole story was a lie from the beginning,” his aunt Sheila Seagers said. Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/former-supervisor-notified-wilderness-camp-officials-that-witness-said-boy/article_253c3eca-b349-11e7-a63f-6725b2aa29c4.html|
|Family says teen who died at wilderness camp for non-violent offenders was beaten to death Teen dies at wilderness camp after violating shoplifting parole BY David Boroff NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 11:39 AM facebook Tweet email Del'Quan Seagers died at a wilderness camp in November of 2015. (Facebook) BY David Boroff NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 11:39 AM A South Carolina teen's family is still searching for answers two years after the 16-year-old boy died at a wilderness camp for non-violent offenders. Del'Quan Seagers, who was in state care after violating probation for a shoplifting charge, officially died of asthma in November 2015, but his family disputes the coroner's claim. "He had asthma but it wasn't severe asthma," Del'Quan's mother Shadeama Seagers tells CBS News. Shadeama Seagers and other family members believe that Del'Quan was beaten at the camp. And a state audit determined the Department of Juvenile Justice "did not properly" look into allegations that the teen's death "involved foul play," according to CBS News. AMIkids, a national nonprofit which runs the camp, said in a statement to CBS News that local and state probes found the organization "not at fault" in the teen's death. Dwight Marshall, a former camp supervisor, told the network that the investigation into Del'Quan's death was "slow, tedious, like no one cared." Marshall said he told investigators that a witness saw Del'Quan get punched in the stomach before he passed away, according to CBS News. Marshall added that staffers were violent, in addition to the kids. Paid Content by Hilton Join the Weekenders "Kicks, slaps, punches, closed fist, close range," Marshall, who was close to Del'Quan, told CBS News. A staff member at another AMIkids camp was accused of body slamming a teen in 2015, according to the station. Shadeama Seagers says she is just hoping for "justice" for her son. "I want my baby back, but I can't have him," she told CBS News. Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/teen-dies-wilderness-camp-violating-shoplifting-parole-article-1.3601578|
|Mom of teen who died at South Carolina juvenile camp demands justice - CBS News Mom of teen who died at South Carolina juvenile camp demands justice Del'Quan Seagers 23 Comment Share Tweet Stumble Email Last Updated Oct 31, 2017 1:23 PM EDT South Carolina lawmakers are examining the state's juvenile justice system after the death of a 16-year-old in state care. Del'Quan Seagers died at a remote wilderness camp for non-violent juvenile offenders. The Department of Juvenile Justice sent him there for violating probation on a shoplifting charge. The camp is operated by AMIkids, a national nonprofit that runs 44 youth programs in nine states. AMIkids received more than $53 million last year in state and federal funding. Del'Quan first landed in state custody after stealing candy from a discount store. He died the day before Thanksgiving in 2015 of asthma, according to a coroner's report. But now a whistleblower says that Del'Quan was actually beaten and that his death may be part of a wider pattern of violence and abuse, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil. Shadeama Seagers can hardly bear the 911 call from the night her son Del'Quan collapsed at the AMIkids camp in Patrick, South Carolina. But she listens to it because she does not believe that her son, an avid basketball player, died of asthma. "He never has asthma attack. He had asthma but it wasn't severe asthma," Seagers said. She also said Del'Quan didn't have an inhaler. The story she does believe – the story her daughter uncovered on Facebook – is that Del'Quan was beaten by other camp residents. "Do you feel like you were lied to?" Dokoupil asked. "Yes. For almost two years. I knew it in my heart," Seagers said. A state audit released in January found that the Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees the AMIkids camps "did not properly investigate claims" that Del'Quan's death "involved foul play." The department claims the death was "fully investigated." Dwight Marshall is a former camp supervisor who was fired in an unrelated incident. "How would you characterize the investigation into Del'Quan?" Dokoupil asked him. "Slow, tedious, like no one cared," Marshall said. He's speaking out now, he said, because Del'Quan was like a son. Marshall said he told the state and AMIkids in writing that, according to a witness, Del'Quan had been hit in the chest before he died. Both organizations deny receiving these documents. Marshall said the problem isn't just violent teens, but some violent staffers too. "Kicks, slaps, punches, closed fist, close range," Marshall said. Play Video CBS This Morning Teen recounts his experience at AMIkids camp Justin Browning, 18, tells CBS News' Tony Dokoupil about his time at one of the AMIkids wilderness camps in South Carolina. Earlier this year at ... In 2015, according to investigators in Florida, a teenager at an AMIkids facility was body slammed by a staffer, who was fired for failing to call for assistance. Last year, in Union County, South Carolina, an AMIkids camp director was charged with "unlawful neglect" after allegedly choking a 15-year-old. Two other staffers are accused of covering it up. The case is still pending. But Seagers, who's not yet done mourning Del'Quan, has heard enough. She wants AMIkids held accountable. "I want my baby back, but I can't have him," Seagers said. "What can you have? What's going to help?" Dokoupil asked. "Justice," Seagers said. In a statement to CBS News, AMIkids said that multiple investigations by both local and state authorities found the organization "not at fault" for Del'Quan's death. In fact, they commend their staff's response that night and say that safety is something that all AMIkids programs take very seriously. Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/south-carolina-juvenile-justice-ami-kids-wilderness-camp-death-violence/|
All segregated congregate care providers, including those on our watch-list, are welcome to contact us to correct any information or provide additional data that may assist with delivering the whole truth to the public. We've found in many cases where this offer has been abused or resulted in revealing additional basis for our concerns. For some examples see: http://www.heal-online.org/tcfl.htm, http://www.heal-online.org/bolthouse.htm and http://www.heal-online.org/abundant2.htm. Now, we are willing to look at the facts and may have questions or require documentation backing up any claims. We do verify licensing, academic backgrounds, and other qualifications when investigating and researching programs on our watch-list to assist consumers seeking additional information on such programs or victims requiring assistance with getting corroborating evidence of their claims. We do that in order to make sure the information we provide is accurate and verified and cite our sources. In the event any information we've posted is in error, we're happy to make a correction. And, for information on how such requests are handled and have been resolved historically, see: http://www.heal-online.org/requests.htm.
HEAL does not support segregated congregate care for many reasons which include that many such facilities are abusive, exploitative, fraudulent, and lack effective oversight often as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation coupled with the ignorance of those seeking to enroll loved ones in such facilities, programs, schools, or centers without a valid court order and involuntarily. In the United States such involuntary placements done without a court order are apparently illegal as they either violate the Americans with Disabilities Act community integration requirement or due process rights of those involuntarily placed. Now, in regards to parents, in the United States parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children. See http://www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information. Now, most facilities on our watch list include waivers, indemnity clauses, and sworn statements parents must sign assuring the program that the parents have the right to make the placement involuntarily and without due process in a segregated congregate care environment, however, California and federal prosecutors as well as settled law appears to suggest that is not the case. In fact, in the David Taylor case found at http://www.heal-online.org/provocases.htm, Taylor sued Provo Canyon School and his mother as co-defendants. His mother was found liable for 75% of the damages awarded to Taylor as a result of multiple complaints including false imprisonment, while the program was found only 25% liable because the mother owed a duty of due diligence to investigate anyone to which she would entrust care of her child and she failed to do so.
Now, HEAL opposes segregated congregate care and we find most placements are happening illegally in the USA which if the youth understood their rights would result in unfortunate outcomes for the parents, particularly when they don't exercise good judgment and support the fraud and abuse rather than their own children when they need remedy and justice. And, HEAL supports all victims of fraud and abuse in seeking remedies at law for any crimes or torts committed against them. And, that's true whether or not the program or victims are in the USA.
HEAL has a 5 point argument against segregated congregate care we'd like you to consider:
a. Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation. It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment. For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at https://youtu.be/C4NzhZc4P0A. Or, see: http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/ which includes in part: "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."
b. Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive. Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights. Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/sociology/articles/institutionalization.htm. "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)." (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)
c. Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children. Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family. Source: http://www.unicef.org/cambodia/12681_23295.html
d. Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful. Best source on this currently is: https://www.acgov.org/probation/documents/EndoftheReformSchoolbyVinny.doc
e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments. Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11662001/The-truth-about-boarding-school-syndrome.html
Beyond the above arguments against segregated congregate care, we have reports from the NIH, Surgeon General, Yale University Studies, and much more showing the methodologies of behavior modification are damaging, harmful, and ineffective. You can request these documents via e-mail. In addition, for such programs offering academic services or claiming to offer diplomas, certifications, or the like, it is important to check to see if it is a diploma mill with no accredited academic services. Please see article: "Avoiding Scams: What You Need To Know" for important information on how to avoid education/training scams.
If you'd like to see what HEAL suggests rather than segregated congregate care (i.e. committing a crime or tort against your child if done against their will without a court order), please see articles: "Fix Your Family, Help Your Teen" and "How Would You Handle My Out of Control Teen?".
If you have a complaint against any facility, please file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency or your home state's attorney general. For reporting resources see: http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm. (Reporting guide is for USA only at this time.)
Last Updated:August 10th, 2019