This is a staff list for Heartlight Ministries in Hallsville, TX
(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 Heartlight Ministries. 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 Heartlight Ministries, you have the right to take action.
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Heartlight Ministries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
HEAL recommends you do not place your child at Heartlight and remove children who are there now.
|Mark and Jan Gregston||Executive Directors/Founders||Mark Gregston is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in Texas. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=332dea5.0 Jan Gregston is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in Texas. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=332dea5.0. Mark Gregston and Jan Gregston are not certified educators. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Melissa Gregston-Nelson||Admissions||Gregston-Nelson is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Gregston-Nelson is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/selSearchTypeTXRAS.do|
|Courtney Goswick||Admissions||Goswick is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Goswick is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Blake Nelson||COO||Nelson is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Nelson is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Pam Mitchell||Admin. Director||HEAL requires Pam Mitchell's full name (including middle name) and/or license type and number in order to verify whether Mitchell holds any educator certifications or professional licenses in TX.|
|Mary Hopkins||Financial Secretary||HEAL does not perform professional licensing/background checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact with and authority over program participants.|
|Alison Hill||Receptionist||HEAL does not perform professional licensing/background checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact with and authority over program participants.|
|Dave Fetherlin||Director of Development||Fetherlin is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Fetherlin is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Sam Sheeley||Marketing||HEAL does not perform professional licensing/background checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact with and authority over program participants.|
|Hope Hilbish||Staff||Hilbish is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Hilbish is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Amber Horton||Staff||HEAL requires Horton's full name (including middle name) in order to verify whether or not Horton holds any educator certifications in TX. Horton is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Tony Michael||Counselor||Anthony A. Michael is a licensed counselor in TX. His license # is 62605 and he has been licensed since June of 2008. To file complaints about this licensed professional, click here: http://www.dshs.texas.gov/plc/plc_complain.shtm|
|Ashley MacMahen||Counselor||MacMahen is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Susan Lewis||Counselor||Lewis is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Ashley Michael||Counselor||Michael is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Melissa LeCraw||Counselor||LeCraw is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Lindsey Miersma||Academic||Miersma is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Debra Fetherlin||Academic Asst.||Fetherlin is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Jane Fidler||Teacher||Fidler is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Tamryn Weber||Teacher||Tamryn L. Weber, may be a different person, is licensed to teach 8th-12th grade level Math in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Roni Mills||Teacher||Roni B. Mills, may be a different person, is licensed to teach 6th-12th grade level Math in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp|
|Ben Weinert||Program Director||Weinert is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Weinert is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Meredith Grausam||Residential Director||Grausam is licensed solely as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. Her license # is 72572. To file complaints about this licensed professional, click here: http://www.dshs.texas.gov/plc/plc_complain.shtm|
|Meg Jasper||Residential Director||Jasper is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Jasper is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Corry Boatright||Residential Director||Boatright is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Boatright is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Blair Hawley||New Lodge Director||Hawley is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Hawley is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Peter Magner||Main House Director||Magner is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Magner is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Mark Kozitka||East House Director||Kozitka is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Kozitka is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Courtney Craft||South House Director||Craft is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Craft is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Rachael Mulder||Old Lodge Director||Mulder is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Mulder is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Katherine Scofield||Staff||Scofield is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Scofield is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Annie Bush||Staff||Annie Mae Bush, may be a different person, is a licensed educator in TX and is licensed to teach 6th-12th grade English and Social Studies. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Bush is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Nef Aguilar||Staff||Aguilar is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Aguilar is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Ruth Pocock||Staff||Pocock is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Pocock is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Karissa Roy||Staff||Roy is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Roy is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Luke Ijams||Staff||Ijams is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Ijams is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Lucas Haley||Staff||Haley is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Haley is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Hopie Feek||Staff||Feek is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Feek is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Allison Conway||Staff||Conway is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Conway is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Jon DePue||Staff||DePue is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp DePue is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Andy Phillips||Staff||HEAL requires Phillips' full name (including middle name) and/or license type and number in order to verify whether Phillips holds any education or professional licenses in TX.|
|Lisa Loniewsky||Staff||Loniewsky is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Loniewsky is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Krystle Renfrow||Staff||Renfrow is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Renfrow is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Katie Rider||Staff||HEAL requires Rider's full name (including middle name) and/or license type and number in order to verify whether Rider holds any education or professional licenses in TX.|
|Jessica Creeden||Staff||Creeden is not a certified educator in TX. Source: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcert.asp Creeden is not a licensed counselor, therapist, psychologist, nor social worker in TX. Source: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/searchByNameTXRAS.do?anchor=357ed93.0|
|Mitch Jones||Staff||HEAL requires Jones' full name (including middle name) and/or license type and number in order to verify whether Jones holds any education or professional licenses in TX.|
|(Heartlight Ministries, 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.)|
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 "Emancipation Guide".
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.)
REPORTING GUIDE FOR VICTIMS, SURVIVORS, AND WHISTLEBLOWERS:
In Texas, the statute of limitations does not apply to crimes against children that include sex offenses and human trafficking. There is no statutes of limitation on murder in Texas. Other felonies have statutes of limitation ranging from three years to 10 years. Most misdemeanors in the state have a 2-year time limit. For civil suits in Texas, the statute of limitations is 2 years depending on cause of action.
Options for you to take action and/or seek redress/justice today are listed below:
1. Report crimes such as assault, fraud, battery, labor trafficking, and child abuse to law enforcement in Texas. You can call the Hallsville, TX Police at (903) 668-2400 to inquire about filing an official complaint which may provide the probable cause needed to get a warrant for investigation and/or prosecution.
2. File a consumer complaint with your home state's attorney general against Heartlight Ministries and include your request for compensation for any harm done to you. You can find the easy online forms for filing such a complaint (which may result in an investigation, prosecution, and/or civil resolution on your case) under your home state's (state where you currently reside) header at http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm. If you live in Texas and/or would like to file consumer complaint as a non-resident with the Attorney General of Texas, visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint .
3. If you do not wish to file a consumer complaint, you can contact a private personal injury attorney and look into suing in tort/civil court. However, if you can't afford the retainer, you should expect to settle out of court with a non-disclosure agreement which may bar you from speaking publicly about the incident because you've agreed (even if with a grumbling assent) to the terms of the settlement. You can find legal resources at http://www.heal-online.org/legal.htm and legal causes of action related to institutionalized abuse claims at http://www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm.
4. You may post a statement about your experience at your program on our unmoderated message board at http://pub40.bravenet.com/forum/show.php?usernum=3407841501&cpv=2 OR send a new e-mail to email@example.com with subject "Post My Feedback" and we will post your feedback (e-mail printed to .pdf disclosing your name and e-mail address and any information in your e-mail with that subject) to https://www.cope.church/feedback.htm and add a direct link to those .pdf files to this page .
5. You may also wish to provide a guest sermon. Guest sermons are posted at https://www.cope.church/sermons.htm , under Progress Reports/Guest Sermons at https://www.heal-online.org where appropriate, and on program info pages when applicable. So, one provided by you on your program would also be placed on this page . Guest sermons should be written into the body of an e-mail and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . Your first and last name will be disclosed (contact info will not be unless you expressly ask for that). For sermons available on our site see https://www.cope.church/sermons.htm (and sermon archives linked on that page). If you have questions about this option, please contact email@example.com. Please see https://www.cope.church/givetoday.pdf to get an idea what your sermon may be worth.
|February 9th, 2022: COPE Conversion Program Progress Report: Heartlight Ministries|
HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:
HEARTLIGHT MINISTRIES' REVIEW
HEAL has found multiple problems with Heartlight Ministries' (Heartlight/Heartlight's) enrollment and program materials including apparent unconscionable terms and contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Heartlight is running a money-making scam on families in need of assistance. We will be alternating between "quoted text" from pages of Heartlight's enrollment and program materials (as was downloaded from heartlightministries.org on March 24th, 2009) and HEAL's questions/concerns. HEAL will not repeatedly link to the enrollment and program materials (Admission Forms, Adolescent Forms, Cover Letter, Fees, Level System, Medical Forms, and Parent Information Packet) in full throughout this review, and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the enrollment agreement in a new window while reviewing our work for accuracy or if additional contextualization is preferred. This is an independent review and if you are in need of legal assistance or advice, please consult with an attorney.Parent Information Packet (Page 1)
"While visits from the parents and other family members are greatly encouraged, Heartlight must limit the amount of visits for obvious reasons. The Heartlight level system determines parent visitation. When the level system allows parent visitation or a resident's visitation home; we limit visitation to once a month, per counselor approval. Heartlight reserves the right to limit visits, should they not be in the best interest of the child, the family, and our program."
"Through the years we've found that the single most important variable involved in the success of a child's stay at Heartlight is the parent's commitment to our process, and their support and trust of the staff, program, philosophy, and guidelines...We feel this "boarding" happens best when parents understand the intent of the program, communicate with the staff, cooperate with our directives, and not get manipulated by their child."
Heartlight limits and controls all interaction between parents and their children and assumes authority to direct the entire family and prevent family interaction if it is not in the best interest of "our program". This is a serious concern and shows a lack of commitment to the families Heartlight claims to assist.
It is also a serious concern that the program demands absolute obedience and support of their methods. This shows a lack of respect for the intelligence of the parents and their judgment and raises serious concerns as to the efficacy and spirit of the program. Using a level system, limiting/controlling visitation, and forcing obedience of family to adhere to a "program" are all signs of an abusive program. Please see our warning signs and questions to ask page at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for important information.
Parent Information Packet (Page 2)
"If a child feels that there is not unity between Heartlight and their parents, they will often attempt to manipulate and continue in maladaptive patterns by exploiting the differences and weaknesses they can find."
"There are often times that a child will complain to their parents about things that are happening here, consequences they have received, or being treated unfairly."
HEAL is concerned that the above references suggest a cultish, controlling environment. Why do children have frequent complaints about this program? This is a serious concern.
In addition, the above appears to suggest that the child is an enemy of the program and the family. This is a very combative view and does not show respect of the child or the family.
Parent Information Packet (Page 3)
"The Parent Retreats are designed to give parents a "seminar-type" opportunity to learn more about how Heartlight works with their child and effective ways of handling difficulties."
"Most often parents will spend time with their child during the evening meal break-time of the Parent Retreats. However, a child must be on level three and have approval from the counselor to go off property with a parent. Therefore at the #1 Retreat, Heartlight serves the evening meal in the conference center in order for the parent and child to have some time together even though they may not be able to leave the property."
The seminars "offered" by many programs in this industry are themselves psychologically damaging to the parent participants. Parents should leave any seminar they feel is bizarre, cultish, or otherwise oppressive and harmful.
It is a concern that children have to earn the privilege to see their own parents. This is obscene and suggests an abusive behavior modification model. See warning signs list at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more information.
Parent Information Packet (Page 4)
"The child's mail will be uncensored, unless there is a concern regarding the best interest of the child that would necessitate monitoring and/or opening of incoming or outgoing mail."
"Parents are allowed to call one time a week at a designated time, which the house director will pre-arrange with you, following your child's first counseling session. Most often this is within the first 7 to 10 days following admission."
"These calls will be limited to 30 minutes or less. Staff may ask your child to hang up early if they are becoming angry or disrespectful, or if the call is becoming harmful or unproductive. Parents are to call the resident. The resident cannot make outgoing calls. Residents are not allowed to use the Heartlight office phones."
Does Heartlight consider children on lower levels of the program a matter of concern that would warrant blanket monitoring of incoming and outgoing mail? How often do they monitor incoming and outgoing mail? Has there ever been a single child who has not had their mail monitored in this manner during some point in the program? These are all serious concerns as the monitoring/censoring of mail can lead to covering up abuse and denying the opportunity for legitimate investigation of complaints lodged against the program. Also, monitoring/reading incoming/outgoing mail is illegal and violates the rights of the child according to the federal court ruling in Milonas and Rice vs. Provo Canyon School. This is a serious concern as an open admission of legal or civil rights violations is indicative of other unnamed abuses existing within the program itself.
It is a serious concern that phone calls are monitored and that children are not allowed access to telephones that would assist them in reporting abuses occurring at the facility. These issues are also indicative of an abusive program. Again, please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for warning signs and important questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
Parent Information Packet (Page 6)
"An authorization form must be signed prior to admission that releases Heartlight from responsibility for your child when he/she is traveling alone to and from a particular destination approved by you, i.e. home for the holidays, visiting brothers, sisters, and extended family, etc."
"This gives Heartlight control of overall coordination of itineraries. In order to make arrangements for your child to come home during of of the breaks, it is first necessary to talk to the child's counselor to find out what time frame he or she is eligible to leave campus."
"Itineraries must be approved by Heartlight before the ticket is booked."
"Additionally, the counselor communicates with parents and residents prior to any home visit in regards to expectations, structure, and guidelines for their time at home. The privileges and limits of the level that your child is on at the time of a visit should the framework of the guidelines that you discuss with your counselor."
The primary concern with the above passages is the amount of control Heartlight exercises over families it claims to serve. Above we see mention that Heartlight controls all travel plans and also the way the family interacts while together. This is a serious concern as it appears to override the respect for the household of the family and shows an arrogance as opposed to a equal partnership between the family and the program to promote real healing. This is a serious concern.Parent Information Packet (Page 7)
"The foundation of the Heartlight counseling program is biblical truth."
"Groups deal with issues such as anger, depression, abuse, self-esteem, manipulation, deceitfulness, divorce, peer-pressure, relational and social skills, and other topics that the residents may identify in their lives and relationships."
"And if their needs deem intervention or treatment beyond the scope of Heartlight, we would communicate our concerns and assist you with referral options that might best suit your child's needs and your investment of time and money. Additionally, at times, the "workability" of a child may limit the effectiveness of the Heartlight program and therefore become a negative influence on other residents."
It is a concern that a subjective and very personal subject such as faith is being used as a basis for counseling with a specific interpretation of scripture.
In these groups are children expected to confess falsely? Are they rewarded for exposing and/or accusing other children of wrongdoing? If so, these are also indicative of an abusive coercive thought reform model and this model has proven ineffective and harmful.
To what programs does Heartlight refer in the event a child is deemed an inappropriate fit at Heartlight? This is a serious concern and the answer may reveal connections to unscrupulous programs.
Parent Information Packet (Page 8)
"Grounds for dismissal may include: drug usage, blatant disrespect for authority that prevents Heartlight from "happening" in the life of a child, a consistent negative influence on other residents, persistent disruption of the child's house, any type of physical threat to a resident or staff, sexual relationships with other residents, a blatant destruction of personal property, suicidal attempts or threats, lack of progress through the Level System, repeated violation of policy and/or discipline measures are no longer effective, an unwillingness to continue to work through problems with their counselor, being expelled from the public school system, or repeated runaway attempts."
"In the event a resident needs to be discharged from Heartlight and be admitted to a different program, Heartlight will make all efforts to work with parents in an appropriate timeframe to secure admission to another program."
Again, this program references its level system. The use of a level system that denies basic needs and rights at any "level" (including the right to an education) is abusive. This system indicates an abusive program and is listed among the warning signs of an abusive program available at www.heal-online.org/warn.htm.
It is a concern that this program appears to work with and or refer to unnamed programs. Parents should require a list of any programs to which Heartlight refers and check out those programs for violations or other concerns.
Parent Information Packet (Page 9)
"It is our desire that parents will support, by word and deed, those privileges and restrictions, under each specific level. This includes phone calls, mail, visits home, etc. Completion of this system is paramount to a child's "success" upon returning home."
"Our desire and perspective is to see each child complete the system. Our staff will not support variance from this standard. We would prefer that a child not come to Heartlight if the intent of the family is not to have their child finish the Level System. (Level System is included in packet)"
"These break times happen during the Public School scheduled breaks; i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas Break, Spring Break, End of School Break, and End of the Heartlight Summer Program Break."
It is a serious concern that this program does not respect the importance of family involvement and communication between parents and child. Exerting this much control over family members is a symptom of a cult-like facility.
The completion of the Level System is likely considered necessary as it is a brainwashing or coercive thought reform system used to obliterate the child's mind and install a new personality. This method is extremely harmful and ineffective.
The program charges approximately $5,000/mo (discussed below) and enrolls children in public schools only once they've "earned the privilege" of attending a Texas Public School. According to reports, Texas Public Schools fail to "make the grade" when it comes to graduation rates and effective standards. This is a serious concern.
Parent Information Packet (Pages 10-11)
"If a child is scheduled to go home for a break yet, a behavioral issue occurs that results in work hours or restriction status. The child's break may be lost or shorten as part of the consequence to their inappropriate choice. This would be evaluated by the Treatment Team in an attempt to determine what would serve the greatest purpose for the child. At times, there are last minute decisions for a child to remain at Heartlight during a break, even if a plane ticket has already been purchased."
"Heartlight feels that participation in academics and sports are secondary to the treatment of specific problems with the potential of lifelong impact should they not be dealt with fully. At times, should it be necessary, Heartlight may pull a child from school if: attitude and actions are not displaying the respect demanded and required by school officials, the current demeanor of the child may cause further problems away from the Heartlight property, the resident is "skirting issues" at heartlight by going to school, or, the child is not putting forth effort at school and failure is inevitable."
"Heartlight provides two environments for education. Residents who are living at the main campus attend Hallsville Public School and complete coursework only from HISD; no additional correspondence courses will be offered. Residents at East and South participate in "on-site" school, using curriculum from Texas Tech University Extended Studies for grades 7-12."
"Residents at South and East are enrolled in the Texas Tech Independent School District, an accredited Association of Colleges and Schools. The TTUISD is approved by the Texas Education Agency that includes middle schools and high schools that operate at a distance."
"Two Texas Tech University High School courses will be ordered right away and charged to your credit card (unless arrangements have been made to pay with the expense account). It is approximately $100 a course."
"The parents will be responsible for the additional hourly costs of the tutor."
It is emotionally devastating to set up a reunion between children and their parents and then at the whim of under-qualified staff yank away that hope of the children and their families. This is an extraordinary amount of control being exerted over the family as a whole and is indicative of an abusive and cult-like environment. This is a serious concern.
Heartlight admits that it does not put education first and that it does not consider education a priority. The program/cult comes first. All else is secondary. This is a serious concern and does not show the desire to put the child's welfare first.
Why are parents paying $5000/mo. to put their children in public school in Texas? This is a serious concern and appears to be a scam.
Not only is there the monthly rate, but, additional fees for correspondence courses and tutors. This is ridiculous and parents should really demand an accounting and comparison between reasonable fees for services provided and the costs charged by this "program".
The TTUISD program is for supplemental coursework only and does not provide an avenue to a diploma in the way Heartlight utilizes the program. This is a serious concern. Also, it does not teach but, provides "credit" for passing exams and is not an actual classroom environment. This is an additional concern.
Parent Information Packet (Page 12)
"The first month's tuition is non-refundable upon receipt, even if the child leaves the program within the first month following arrival to Heartlight."
"The parent/custodian will pay for 14 additional days from the date of a resident leaving Heartlight in cases of runaway, early withdrawal, or early termination."
If parents realize after the fact that Heartlight is a scam and/or a bad idea, they lose the first month's tuition (which does not include nor cover any educational services) and an additional $2,500 (approx.) even if the program chooses to terminate the child's enrollment. These terms appear to be excessive given the lack of professional quality and educational services at this program.Parent Information Packet (Page 13)
"Heartlight is licensed as a 24-hour general residential operation for adolescents. Heartlight is not a residential treatment center. Most in-patient benefits are restricted to a licensed RTC."
"A parent's request as to how money is spent on their child will be honored if it is in the best interest of the child."
"Each parent sets up an expense account for their child in the amount of $400...This account is used for a variety of things a child may need while at Heartlight. This may include: doctor's appointments, medications, personal needs (soap, shampoo, etc.), and school supplies. At the beginning of each month, a bill complete with receipts reflecting where the money has been spent will be mailed for you to replenish the account." (ends on page 14)
Heartlight Ministries is not listed as a licensed service of any kind from our research in Texas. There is no reference to Heartlight nor Heartlight Ministries through the Texas Commission of Health and Human Services. There is no reference to Heartlight nor Heartlight Ministries through the Department of State Health Services. Heartlight Ministries is not licensed as a Special Care Facility. If, as suggested, Heartlight Ministries operates under a general residential operation license, they must follow these rules. The previous link includes the following definition of a general residential operation:
"General Residential Operation – A residential child-care operation that provides child care for 13 or more children or young adults. The care may include treatment services and/or programmatic services. These operations include formerly titled emergency shelters, operations providing basic child care, operations serving children with mental retardation, and halfway houses."
This program does appear to have licensed childcare administrators on staff. However, this appears to be the only list, form, or directory that includes any licensing information on Heartlight. This is a concern as Heartlight may be intentionally avoiding more involved regulation.
It is an additional concern that all necessities come at an added expense to parents, including school supplies. These seem to be incongruent practices when compared to Christian ethics and appropriate costs associated with general group/foster home care as is what is provided by Heartlight and all they appear to be licensed to provide.
Parent Information Packet (Page 14)
"Room and personal belongings may be randomly checked."
"Residents may sleep in a staff room if deemed necessary for safety."
"Doors in the resident's bedroom/bathroom may be removed."
"Resident may be given work hours."
Random room and personal belongings checks seem to be violative of personal space and property and not to be exemplifying leadership by example in allowing those in seeming authority to violate the privacy rights of children in the program. This is a concern as it may be used to humiliate or otherwise violate the rights of children in the program.
It is a concern that residents may be singled out to sleep with staff if staff deems it "necessary". Sexual abuse is commonplace in residential facilities for children and adults and this is a serious concern. We have received no reports of sexual abuse at Heartlight. However, the practice is so widespread that it causes HEAL concern that such a sleeping arrangement is explicit in the parent handbook.
It is a concern that a child may have no privacy in the bedroom or bathroom and this again suggests humiliation as a method of gaining control. Such practices are ineffective and harmful and do not suggest a healthy learning nor living environment. To teach respect, you must show respect.
It is a concern that "work hours" and program structure overrides the educational and other needs of the children at Heartlight. The more one reads the fine print, the more one finds this program appears to be little more than a money-making cult.
Parent Information Packet (Page 15)
"No disciplinary measures will be physically or emotionally damaging to any child."
"Continual Abuse of Rules"
"Not Completing Chores" (ends on page 16)
"4 hr. Work Project"
"Possible Restriction Status"
"1st - 4 hour work project"
"2nd - 1 day of 8 - 10 hr. Work Project (No School)"
"3rd- 2 days of 8 - 10 hr. Work Project (No School)"
"Move to Home School Program"
"Work Project for each day in OCS. Saturday 8:30a.m. - 6:30p.m. (if over weekend)"
"4 hr. Work project and pay for damages"
"Re-do the chores"
"Work projects may be replaced with other types of discipline where warranted." (ends on page 16)
What are these "work projects"? Do these "work projects" benefit the program? Does the program receive a pecuniary or other benefit from the children's labor? This is a serious concern given the fact that for minor infractions children can lose their "academic privileges" (right to an education/go to school) and are then forced to provide labor in various unidentified "work projects". Parents should really think about the minor infractions such as "disobedience" or "violation/music policy" and whether or not the extreme protocols of the program are warranted, fair, and/or considered abuse under state child abuse laws. Parents should also investigate whether or not the program is violating child labor laws.Parent Information Packet (Page 16)
"Those can include special trips with their family, more weekends at home, and visits to brothers and sisters."
It is a serious concern that the rewards earned as "privileges" do not include personal rewards and are rewards that are granted rights to those in U.S. prisons. This is a serious concern and suggests violations of the children's liberty interests and welfare.Parent Information Packet (Page 17)
"Restriction I Status is reviewed every 5 - 10 days."
"During Restriction I, there will be work projects each day after school (3:30 - 6:30p.m./dinner, which ever is first). On Saturdays, Sundays, or school break days, they will work all day (8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.)."
"Residents are to wear orange suits while in work projects on Restriction I."
"Implement Level II Privileges (Loss of allowance, going home, letters from friends, etc.). The duration of this Restriction I is 5 - 10 days."
"Those residents that remain expelled but move "off" Restriction I due to a good review will continue to work (not wearing orange suits) during school days from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m."
If children have been expelled from the public high school, shouldn't Heartlight be immediately enrolling the children for the Texas Tech correspondence school so they can continue to earn credits and not get too far behind in school? It is a serious concern that these restrictions include forcing children to labor for the program, which benefits the program, as opposed to attending school or studying to improve academic performance.
It is a serious concern that this program forces children to wear orange suits like prisoners who labor for the state. This is acclimating them to a life in prison and is not helpful in building self-esteem or productive individual goals.
It is an additional concern that this "restriction status" can last much longer than 5 - 10 days and appears to be reviewed in those set intervals. This shows the use of punishment beyond what is necessary for discipline and raises additional concerns regarding the practices in place at Heartlight.
Parent Information Packet (Pages 18-19)
"Please note that Restriction II eliminates the privilege of going to school, until the designated period is over, possibly resulting in loss of credit for excess absences."
"Restrictions: Forfeiting of all clothing and wearing of orange suit. Non-participation in any academic settings or Heartlight events. Work projects for the duration of Restriction II. Level I Privileges. These work projects will be from 8:30a.m. to 6:30p.m."
"Resident is able to participate in counseling events as deemed appropriate by the counselor."
"It is during this time of Level I Orientation when an understanding of the basic and essential requirements of Heartlight is transferred...Progression through this temporary stage will be determined by a child's manner in which they accept Heartlight's guidelines."
Heartlight considers school a "privilege" that must be earned. This is a serious concern and misplaces the appropriate priorities for children and youth. It is a concern that the program benefits greatly through the free labor provided by students/clients on restriction status and that the program has reason to impose unfair and abusive penalties for their own benefit. This suggests a highly unethical and cult-like environment.Parent Information Packet (Page 20)
"$400 (Due at time of admission)."
"Texas Tech Tuition--This must be paid by the parent's personal credit card and initiated by the Academic Coordinator."
The $400 is for the rotating expense account that must be reimbursed and kept at the $400 mark on a regular basis. This expense was also referenced above and covers basic necessities like soap, shampoo, and school supplies. This fee is in addition the monthly "tuition" charged by the program which will be discussed below.
The Texas Tech Tuition appears to be $110 per course. This is also an additional fee charged to parents. Educational services are not provided nor covered by the tuition charged by Heartlight. This is a serious concern.
Parent Information Packet (Page 21)
"Psychiatrist Appointments ---- This must be paid by the parent's personal credit card and initiated by the appointed Counselor."
"THINGS TO BRING..."
"Alarm clock (battery operated)"
"No CD players or radios. No CDs, as Heartlight has its own stereo system and CDs."
"Girl South residents may only use electric razors. Please bring personal razor."
It is a concern that the basic "tuition" fees do not cover legitimate psychiatric or mental health services. This is in addition to such fees not covering educational services. So, if therapy and education cost extra, why are parents paying nearly $5000/mo. for this program?
It is a concern that personal music is not allowed. It is an additional concern that Heartlight controls all music played. Music has been used as a means to torture those in captivity and this is a serious concern.
It is reasonable to require that children who may be prone to suicide use electric razors only. However, it is strange that the boys are not equally charged with this rule according to the above program information. This is a minor concern.
Parent Information Packet (Page 22)
"First Month's Fee - check for $4800, plus the $980 intake fee ($5,750 total). Expense Account Initial Deposit - check for $400."
This program uses a level system and is yet to clarify the average length of stay for each child who is held at the program. If the program takes on average, one year, the total cost (giving an additional $300 for expense account and educational fees, etc.), the cost for one year is $62,180 (that includes the intake fee). That charge, which does not include psychiatric services, is in excess of one year's tuition at Harvard University, including room and board. "Harvard University will increase tuition next school year by 3.8 percent, the school announced yesterday, bringing the annual cost of a Harvard education, including room and board, to $50,724." (Source: boston.com, March 19th, 2010) Think about it, this program is charging more than the annual cost of Harvard University (including room and board) and doesn't even provide advanced placement classes. This is a serious concern and sounds like a scam.Parent Information Packet (Page 23)
"*All clothing is to be generic with no logos."
"*These are the only clothing items that will be needed or allowed by each resident while living at Heartlight East or South."
"Any appointment that is not routine or is a special request by the resident must be communicated to parents by the House Director for approval."
It is a serious concern that this program puts such strict limitations on self-expression and with the lack of access to effective educational services, really promotes an environment of ignorance and intolerance. Please see our free e-book at www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf for more information regarding behavior modification and the dangers associated with promoting such culturally destructive models.
It is a concern that if a child wishes to see a doctor that the child must go through the program leadership, await parental approval, and then maybe be approved to see a physician. Parents should not trust programs to notify them in the event a doctor's appointment has been requested. Programs in this industry regularly deny children in need of medical attention such assistance to protect themselves from inquiry and investigation. This is a serious concern.
Parent Information Packet (Page 24)
"Without exception, no one should confirm and book a flight or any transportation itinerary without approval of Heartlight through the travel coordinator."
"PACKAGES can be mailed to: PO Box 286, Hallsville, TX 75650."
It is a serious concern that this program exercises so much control over family plans when families have schedules and priorities to work around in order to schedule visits to the program. This whimsical approach to visitation under the complete control of the program is disrespectful to the unique needs of individual families and is a serious concern.
If possible, perhaps HEAL members/supporters would like to send letters to children at the program. Yes, the letters may never see the light of day. But, it may raise the spirits of the kids if they receive news of such efforts.
Level System (page 1)
"LEVEL I - ORIENTATION (4 weeks)"
"Move into house and settle into routine. Begin doing chores, work projects."
"Meet with House Director and discuss rules, weekly schedule, the operation of the residential facility, the level system, communication by phone and mail, travel and holidays, other policy and procedures, visits from parents, restraint, discipline, trips away from Heartlight, and grievance procedures (completed in 7 days)."
"Enroll in first classes."
"Begin to get to know roommates and "peers" in program."
"Involvement in Orientation Group (Continues through Level 2)"
Four weeks is likely a minimum. Parents should inquire as to how long a child can remain on Orientation and/or how often children are placed back on Orientation/Level 1 in the program. Parents should also inquire as to the grievance procedures and whether or not the timeframe and methods allow for immediate contact with authorities in the event of abuse. Most law enforcement agencies have a 48-72 hour window in which a physical abuse crime must be reported in order to effectively investigate. If the program does not contact outside authorities until after 7 days have past, then it will be a barrier to law enforcement and justice and this raises serious concerns regarding regulation and oversight at this program.
Do children enroll in classes immediately or, as stated previously, do children need to earn the "privilege" of going to school? It is a serious concern that a child's education is not a top priority of Heartlight.
This program appears to use "positive peer culture" or "confrontation therapy". These methods have proven to be ineffective and harmful. This is a serious concern.
Level System (page 2)
"Allow others in group counseling to help identify problems."
"Demonstrate an ability to function in the school setting and compliance with the expectations coupled with the privilege of going to school."
The first segment above further suggests the use of "confrontation therapy" and this is a serious concern as such is proven to be ineffective and harmful.
The second segment suggests that the privilege of going to school or an education is reserved for those near or entering the second level of the program. Parents should inquire as to how long children typically spend in the program without access to an education. This includes the average time each child spends on restriction and/or level 1 status.
Level System (page 4)
"Begin to allow destructive behavior patterns and attitudes to be broken by openness to discuss with staff and receive redirection: i.e. eating disorders, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts/threats, as well as styles of self-protection and other poor coping mechanisms."
"Honesty is being displayed in admitting when wrongdoing is taking place in resident's life, and in displaying a concern for peers at Heartlight when "wrong-doings" are evident in the peer's life. (Able to confront other residents, privately and in group counseling."
Heartlight readily admits it is not a licensed mental health program nor a licensed residential treatment center. Parents should question whether or not Heartlight is qualified to treat eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health issues. It appears by their qualifications (counseling based on "biblical truth") and their licensing do not provide any evidence of their ability to provide effective mental health services. And, this is a serious concern.
It is evidenced again that Heartlight promotes and uses "confrontation therapy" in their group sessions. This is another serious concern as such practices are ineffective and harmful.
Level System (page 5)
"No longer resistant to change."
"Demonstrates more consistency in encouraging and motivating others through words and example."
"Demonstrates positive direction and encouragement to the Heartlight residents."
This program starts out by using physical exhaustion through chores and work projects to weaken residents into more easily influenced children. This is followed up with additional "privileges" and "responsibilities" as the child succumbs or is brainwashed in the Heartlight system. Once a child has reached level four, the program has taken control of the child and the child is now being used as a virtual arm of the program in using the program's methods to break down those who are not as far along in the program. This is a brainwashing system. See www.heal-online.org/brainwashing.pdf for more information and the purpose of the levels in programs like Heartlight.Level System (page 6)
"A leader in small group and house group. Helping others deal maturely and objectively through their difficulties."
"Ready to graduate Heartlight at next scheduled graduation."
"The decision has been made by parents and Heartlight that it's time to go home."
This program uses a seven step or seven level system similar to that of Straight, Inc., Kids Helping Kids, and Pathway Family Center. This is a serious concern.
It is a serious concern that children in the program are placed in authority positions over other children in the program. This is a warning sign of an abusive program. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for additional information.
It is a concern that Heartlight will keep raking in the money, even if a child is "ready" to be released, if the graduation schedule conflicts with the needs of the child and the family. This seems unreasonable given that enrollment into the program can occur at anytime and release dates should be as open as enrollment.
Level System (page 7)
"Transferring of daily authority from Heartlight to parents."
"LEVEL VII - GRADUATE"
"This level is for those who accomplished Level VI and could go home, yet for some reason, it is best to stay at Heartlight."
Level VII is the seventh step in this program and is one in which children likely stay on as "staff" to assist the program/cult in it's activities. This shows that the program puts itself above the needs of the children and families it claims to serve and this is a serious concern.Level System (page 8)
"LEVEL SYSTEM PRIVILEGES"
"Allowance (Begin 3rd Week) $4"
"Group - Initial Group"
"Program Events (begin 1st week)"
"Phone privileges (begin 2nd week) Family"
"Mail from Family"
"Allowance (Weekly) $4"
"Group - Initial"
"Phone privileges" Family"
"Mail from family"
"Allowance (Weekly) $5"
"Group - Regular Groups"
"Phone privileges Family"
"Mail from friends & family Approved"
"Non-program events W/Staff"
As shown above in the parent handbook portion, Heartlight will screen incoming and outgoing mail and children are not allowed to make any outgoing calls and all incoming calls must be scheduled and approved through the counselor. Such calls may not be approved on a whim of staff and this is a serious concern as it isolates the child from his/her family.
It is an additional concern that the majority of "privileges" mentioned in the various levels shown above are program-related group sessions and events. These should not be considered "privileges" in a positive reinforcement for good behavior sense of the term. This is a serious concern and shows a lack of understanding of the psychological principles referenced by Heartlight.
What types of "non-program events" do children attend with staff? Are children left alone with staff? Are they taken off campus? Are parents notified regarding what types of events these are and are parents in charge of whether or not their children participate? The program doesn't sign back over authority over the child until it feels the child is "ready" for parents to resume authority. Parents should never lose authority over their children as a result of residential placement and suggesting such is a concern.
Level System (page 9)
"Visits Home to parents"
"Allowance (weekly) $6"
"Group - Regular Groups"
"Phone privileges Family"
"Mail from friends & family Approved"
"Visits Home to parents"
"Allowance (Weekly) $7/$10"
"Phone privileges Family"
"Mail from family and friends Approved"
"Visits Home to parents"
"Allowance (Weekly) $8/$11"
Visits Home to Parents"
Parents and readers must notice that all of the above provide very little incentive to "work the program" for any individual and this is a serious concern. Children, young adults, and adults need to be empowered to demand fair treatment and compensation for their labor and efforts. Encouraging children to allow themselves to be enslaved and to see visitations with family who've virtually abandoned them as the best reward to achieve is a serious concern and likely leads to severe mental health and self-esteem, self-respect issues in later years. This is a serious concern.
If you wouldn't submit to a system of degradation, humiliation, and absolute loss of civil liberties for the benefit of perhaps seeing one or both of your parents, don't do it to your child.
Level System (page 10)
"Phone privileges Family"
"Job in town Treatment Team determination"
"Sports Involvement Treatment Team determination"
It is a serious concern that "graduates" who are kept on in the program are still under so much control of the program that the program still prevents them from having normal co-ed relationship (i.e. dating) and that the program controls when and if a young adult graduate can seek employment or be involved in sports. Both sports and afterschool jobs assist children and young adults with preparing for the "real world" and assist in building a resume that will attract employers and colleges. It is a concern that this program seeks to limit the ability of children to realize their full potential. And, this is a serious concern.Fees (page 1)
"Each month's tuition is $4,750."
"The first month's tuition is non-refundable upon receipt even if the child leaves the program within the first month following arrival to Heartlight."
"Admission Fee: ...$950"
"Expense Account: ....$400 balance at all times"
"Academic Expenses: ....Parents will pay the course fee for each course your child enrolls in. Currently the cost is $110."
The issues with the fees have been discussed in previous sections and we include the above to further establish the amounts used for calculation and discussion in those previous segments.Medical Forms (page 2)
It should really be up to the individual when and if informing a facility, such as Heartlight, that is neither a medical facility nor licensed mental health facility of any kind, about the above conditions. If the program does not accept pregnant children, the policy should state such and invasive questioning regarding the private sexual history of the child, including any miscarriages or abortions, should be left between the child, her physician, and her parents if age appropriate.Adolescent Forms
HEAL's Questions/ConcernsHow often do children whose parents apply for Heartlight fill out this form? How often is the form completed by someone other than the adolescent? And, how is Heartlight qualified to make any determinations based on the questions asked in the forms?
Admission Forms (page 1)
Why does a virtual foster home need the social security number of children entering the program? Is it possible for parents to identify the religious affiliation of a child who has not yet fully committed to one faith or another? These are minor concerns.Admission Forms (page 2)
"Social Security Number"
"Social Security Number"
"Social Security Number"
"Social Security Number" (ends on page 3)
There is no good reason for a program to know this much personally identifying information that could be used in identity theft or other nefarious purposes. This program is not a medical facility and it is not an educational facility. It is imperative that families investigate programs like Heartlight and insure that their private information cannot and will not be mishandled by those who have access within the program.Admission Forms (page 4)
"What are your child's current behavioral problems?"
"What are your child's current emotional problems?"
"Please describe your child's past and present relationship with:"
Parents are not mental health professionals and cannot provide effective and accurate data when the family relationships are already strained to the point of considering out-of-the-home placement. This is a serious concern. It is an additional concern that this program is not licensed as a residential treatment center nor medical nor mental health facility. All of these issues raise multiple concerns regarding the professionalism and qualifications of Heartlight to provide services claimed to be rendered.Admission Forms (page 7)
"Has he/she had any changes in behavior and/or mood?"
"When did these changes occur?"
"Has he/she had any abnormal thoughts?"
"Shy or Timid"
"Fear of losing control"
"Difficult to Control"
Teenagers and adolescents go through normal phases of mood swings and other normal changes because they are going through puberty. Parents would do well to take some parenting classes and child development courses to become better informed as to what is and what is not "normal" adolescent behavior and mood changes.
It is a concern that "abnormal" and "strange" thoughts are not further explained. Such an indicator would be best left to the devices and understanding of those with proper training in mental health fields, not parents who are uncertain how to proceed with their family.
The fact that this program focuses on the control of the child as opposed to the positive encouragement and development of independence in the child is a serious concern. Parents should want independent and goal-oriented children who can make their own decisions and parents should not wish for children who are easily controlled or manipulated by anyone claiming authority over them as it will put the children in harm's way. Child predators look for children who are easy to control. This is a serious concern.
Admission Forms (page 9)
"What type of peer group does your child spend time with?"
"To your knowledge has your child had any sexual problems?"
"Has your child exhibited any sexual identity issues and/or inappropriate sexual behavior?"
Parents are unlikely to know their child's friends if the relationship has deteriorated to the point of considering institutionalization and the first question is therefore inappropriate and likely to result in inaccurate data.
What does the program mean by "sexual problems"?
If this program suggests it can "cure homosexuality" through reparative therapy, this is a serious concern as reparative therapy has been found to be ineffective and harmful.
Admission Forms (page 11)
"Please list all doctors and other professionals (i.e. general physicians, psychiatrist, psychologists, education, etc.) who have examined and or treated your child (please use additional paper if needed):"
This is invasive as Heartlight is not a licensed educational, mental health, nor medical facility. Parents should really consider this before sharing any private and personal information or documents with this program.Admission Forms (page 13)
"Please list all psychiatric, psychological and/or marriage and family therapy in which the family members have participated:"
The above is simply a concern because there is no evidence of and no licensing of Heartlight as a medical or mental health facility. Families should be careful with whom they share private and protected health information.Admission Forms (page 14)
"Have there been any unusual circumstances in the child's life, which have been hard for him/her to accept?"
"Have there been any deaths of family or friends that have greatly impacted your child?"
"What does your child believe his current problem to be?"
"What are your expectations of placement at Heartlight?"
"What do you see as your child's estimated length of stay?"
"What do you see as your child's - and ultimately your family's - goal of sending him/her to Heartlight?"
The above questions should be asked to the child directly and only once a trusting relationship has been established. Sharing personally upsetting information with unqualified third-parties who may use the information to humiliate, degrade, or otherwise traumatize the child is a serious concern.
It is a concern that the program does not seek to empower youth, but, to establish absolute adherence to perceived authority figures to the detriment of young adults who will soon be entering the workforce and who will need to have a strong sense of self-confidence in order to be successful. These are all serious concerns.
Admission Forms (pages 18-19)
"Has your child ever had an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or special education placement (resource room, content mastery, etc.)? If so, please attach any assessment information."
"Please attach transcript and home school's graduation requirements if in High School, otherwise the most current grade card."
It is a concern that this program may accept children with IEPs and it is not equipped to provide specialized or otherwise academic services. It is a concern that this program requests such information when not providing the educational services and only acting in place of parents in placing the child in academic programs once the child "earns" the privilege.
Based on all of the above, we consider Heartlight likely abusive and suspect. We recommend you do not place your child at Heartlight and rescue your child if your child is currently enrolled.
HEAL UPDATE: September 28th, 2016:
Heartlight Ministries is not a licensed residential facility in TX. It is also not listed among the registered and exempt faith-based facilities registered with DSHS in TX. Sources: Registered Exempt Faith-Based Programs (PDF) and https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/selSearchTypeTXRAS.do.
The Texas State Department of Education "does not have oversight of private schools or vocational schools in Texas." Source: http://tea.texas.gov/accredstatus/. Their site recommends we check with the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. We attempted multiple times on September 28th, 2016 to get the site at http://www.tepsac.org/#/search/schools to load so we could check to see if Heartlight is listed among the accredited private schools in Texas. We were unable to get that page to load. We will try again as soon as possible.
At this point, Heartlight is not a licensed nor registered residential program in Texas. And, this alone is grounds for choosing an alternative.
February 9th, 2022
Last Updated: February 9th, 2022