(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 the Teen Challenge. 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 Teen Challenge, you have the right to take action.†
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Teen Challenge, 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.
Please donít place your loved one in Teen Challenge and rescue them if they are there now.
|Tim Culbreth||Executive Director||
Director of the Hot Springs location.
(Teen Challenge, 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.)
|Lynn Ables||Program Director|
|Cathy Thompson||Induction Director|
|Taria Ring||Vintage Mall Manager|
|Bubba Davis||Senior Staff|
|Tank Jones||Senior Staff|
|Bob Reed||Senior Staff|
|Presley Rutherford||Senior Staff|
|Will Pearson||Senior Staff|
|Jennifer Grim||Intake Director||Teen Challenge Ranch in Morrow, AR ("serves" ages 14-17). Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.|
|Police Calls Regarding Teen Challenge Ranch in Morrow include reports of runaways, violent staff restraint of youth, youth on youth violence, firearms on premises (reported missing on multiple occasions), and other concerns. To review the reports, click here.|
|Teen Challenge Information--See www.heal-online.org/StraightandTeenChallenge.htm|
HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:
TEEN CHALLENGE RANCH
ENROLLMENT PACKET REVIEW
HEAL has found multiple problems with Teen Challenge Ranch's (TC/TC's) enrollment agreement including apparent unconscionable terms and/or contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Teen Challenge is running a money-making scam on families in need of assistance. We will be alternating between "quoted text" from pages of the Teen Challenge Ranch enrollment agreement (as was downloaded from arkansasteenchallenge.org on September 26th, 2010) and HEAL's questions/concerns. HEAL will not repeatedly link to the enrollment agreement 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. (This review includes a review of the application, pre-entry packet, and fee structure.)
Application (Page 1)
"A $35 non-refundable application fee must be submitted with this application before it will be considered."
"Special abilities or training:"
"Is your son in any resource classes?"
HEAL questions the ethics of charging an application fee in addition to an enrollment fee and other miscellaneous fees discussed through out this review. However, $35 is the most reasonable "application fee" HEAL has seen thus far in reviewing contracts for behavior modification programs.
HEAL believes that Teen Challenge Ranch wants to know the special abilities and/or training of a prospective "student" to gauge how beneficial it will be to Teen Challenge Ranch to enroll said "student".
Why does Teen Challenge Ranch ask about a prospective student's IQ? And, what is a "resource class"?
Application (Page 2)
"If your son has ever been tested for learning disabilities or has had any psychological testing through the school, please send that information with this application."
Will Teen Challenge conduct its own tests and will those tests be conducted by people qualified and/or licensed to provide such testing in Arkansas? Does Teen Challenge Ranch provide or are they qualified to provide special education for those with learning disabilities? Is Teen Challenge qualified to provide or understand the psychological testing results provided by other schools?
Application (Pages 3-6)
"Do you now or have you ever known any student of Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas?"
"Does the applicant have homosexual tendencies?"
"Does the applicant have any physical limitations that would hinder him from participating in rigorous work or recreational activities?"
"Does the applicant currently have any of the following diseases? ...Gonorrhea...Herpes...Syphilis...Hepatitis..."
"Is the applicant HIV positive?"
"Is the applicant currently or has the applicant ever undergone psychiatric treatment? If yes, please list diagnosis and medications prescribed. Please include a statement from prescribing physician regarding diagnosis, medication, and weaning guidelines (how and what to expect) if currently on medications."
Why does Teen Challenge Ranch want to know if you know anyone who ever attended the program? What is the purpose of asking this question? Why is this question repeated to the student on page 12? Many programs don't allow "graduates" to interact with others who are not following the same "path/cult" as the "graduate". This may be an attempt by Teen Challenge Ranch to keep tabs on "graduates" or others who have left the program. Also, if a "student" leaves the program due to dissatisfaction, this may be a screening tool to get rid of any potential group action against practices in place at the program.
Does Teen Challenge Ranch see homosexuality as a "sin" or a "disease"? If so, this suggests a serious problem with the program and the people running it. Why does Teen Challenge ask if they child has "homosexual tendencies"? What does this mean?
Why is Teen Challenge Ranch concerned about the STDs a child may have upon enrollment? Do children in the program engage in sexual activity within the program? Has any child been sexually abused by staff or peers while in the program providing apparent warrant to ask such a question? In attending public school, private school, and college the HEAL coordinators have never been required to answer such questions in order to attend or be accepted in those schools/universities. This question seems unnecessarily intrusive unless there is a concern at Teen Challenge Ranch due to lack of proper oversight or supervision in the program. And, such lack of oversight and supervision would itself present a concern regarding the practices at Teen Challenge Ranch.
Is Teen Challenge Ranch qualified to monitor the withdrawal of children off of psychiatric medications? Is there a licensed medical professional trained to handle such situations that is on-site daily to monitor children being "weaned off" of medications? Teen Challenge's implies that they are not equipped or trained by requesting specific direction from the child's physicians outside of the program. This is a concern.
In addition, by requesting detailed treatment history at other programs and mental health service providers, Teen Challenge Ranch implies that they will understand the information provided and are qualified to provide similar treatment. However, this does not appear to be the case when the reputation of Teen Challenge programs are considered. Teen Challenge is not licensed to provide alcohol/drug abuse treatment in Arkansas. According to Teen Challenge Ranch, "Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas is dedicated to helping troubled boys get a new start in life. Boys ages 14-17 come to Teen Challenge from across the United States. They are young men in need of help and assistance. They often struggle with issues such as: drug & alcohol abuse, anger & depression, legal problems, and behavioral problems." (arksansasteenchallenge.org, September 26th, 2010). Since Teen Challenge is not licensed to treat drug and alcohol abuse, this is a serious concern. When a program is not licensed to provide the services they claim, it is one of the warning signs of an abusive and/or fraudulent program. Teen Challenge is not licensed as a mental health services or rehabilitation services provider in Arkansas. These are serious concerns as Teen Challenge claims to "help" children with problems they are not licensed to "treat".
Application (Page 9)
"Who is the person or agency requesting placement?"
"Describe the nature of the problem with your child. If your son uses illegal drugs please list all the ones you are aware of."
"Comment on any factors that may have influenced these problems with your child. Please be specific and frank."
The initial question above suggests that Teen Challenge may take foster children or adjudicated youth. This is a concern and should raise concerns for parents who may be dealing with normal teenage angst and over-reacting by considering a lock-down placement or controlled environment in which their child may be introduced to a more "criminal" element and adversely influenced by being placed among children/youth with more "extreme" issues. This is a serious concern.
Again, the second question implies that Teen Challenge Ranch is qualified to provide drug treatment. Teen Challenge Ranch is neither licensed nor qualified to provide drug treatment.
Parents who are having difficulty relating to their child may not be the best parties to ask in regards to what they think the cause of the child's problems might be. It is highly likely that a primary cause of problems with any child is that they have been neglected and/or emotionally or physically abandoned by their family during critical developmental stages and moments in their lives. These problems require full participation and mutual respect to be developed between the parents and the child and vice versa. Respect is a "two-way street", and parents/authority figures/adults are in the best position experientially to lead by example. The best way to earn respect is to show respect and that is always a reciprocal deal. Children who do not show respect have likely not been treated with respect and therefore have no value to associate with it in regards to themselves or others. Respect your children and their feelings and ideas and they will learn to respect yours by following your example.
Application (Page 10)
"What goals do you have pertaining to your child's stay at Teen Challenge?"
"What are your plans for your child if he is dismissed or leaves Teen Challenge? (Will you seek another facility, will he go to jail, will he be allowed to return home, etc.?)"
"Please list the names and addresses of any friends, relatives, etc. from who you do not wish your child to receive mail, phone calls, or visits."
The first question is typically asked by behavior modification programs to determine the best way to solicit and pacify the parent's concerns by focusing on the parent's desires.
If a child has not been adjudicated, placing them in a lock-down environment may be a violation of his due process rights/civil rights. See www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm and www.heal-online.org/teenrights.htm for more information.
HEAL finds it of interest that the language of the third segment above calls for a "no contact" list as opposed to an "approved" contact list. Are there any restrictions on mail, phone calls, and visits? Is there a "blackout period" that marks a timeframe or "level" during which a child may not have contact with parents and/or vice versa? If so, this is a serious concern and would indicate an abusive environment. See www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more information.
Application (Pages 11-12)
"How do you think other people view you?"
"What problems are you having (Why are you coming to Teen Challenge?)"
"What have you done about the problems?"
"What has occurred in your life to cause you to come here?"
"Do you now or have you ever known any student of Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas?"
"Do you now or have you ever used alcohol or other habit forming substances (drugs)?"
The above is a questionnaire requested of incoming "students" to the Teen Challenge Ranch program. It is a concern that a focus would be placed on how others view the child as those views are typically highly subjective and a child is not in a position to adequately provide information regarding the perceptions of others. HEAL finds this a concern because programs like Teen Challenge are reported to use "Positive Peer Culture/Pressure" and/or "Therapeutic "Cult" Community" methods shown to be ineffective and harmful to participants. And, a clear focus on the "value" others place on the child suggests an oppressive environment and disrespect for the child.
The questions regarding why the child has problems and the placing of responsibility of the problems solely on the child by way of the questions and the tone of those questions, suggests an overly oppressive and "blaming" environment. A human being responds to and interacts with his/her environment in a way that is supported by that environment. The home environment needs improvement and/or the community of the child needs improvement of lasting healing is to occur. The best things families can do is keep their families together and work together to solve family problems. This contrasts the "scapegoating" approach of programs like Teen Challenge that typically pacify parents while enslaving their children.
Again, Teen Challenge implies that they are equipped to treat children who have alcohol/drug abuse issues. Teen Challenge Ranch is not licensed to provide alcohol/drug abuse treatment in Arkansas.
Application (Page 13)
"Student Questions" [cont.]
"Do you believe that God exists?"
"What do you believe about God?"
"Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"
"What is the purpose of prayer?"
"Do you pray? If so how often?"
"What is the purpose of the Bible?"
"What do you believe about life after death?"
"What do you believe about the devil?"
"What is sin?"
HEAL finds these questions to be a concern as they are intrusive into the private spiritual life of a child that is likely being involuntarily placed in the program. Why does Teen Challenge ask these questions? Do they believe the questions will be answered honestly? Do they provide answers regarding how Teen Challenge Ranch would answer the same questions? Does Teen Challenge believe in the devil? Does Teen Challenge believe in sin? Does Teen Challenge believe other faiths (including Judaism, Catholicism, etc.) are "satanic" or "cults"? What values will Teen Challenge be teaching children? Do these values embody hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and/or other non-traditional values?
Application (Pages 14-16)
"Application Fee - $35...This fee is non-refundable."
"Entrance Fee - $500...This fee...is nonrefundable."
"Tuition - $1850 per month. This fee includes, room, board, and regular curriculum expenses associated with the academic and discipleship programs...A full month's tuition is due prior to a student's entrance into the program...Except in certain situations wherein tuition has been pre-paid more than one month in advance, all tuition payments shall be considered non-refundable."
"Teen Challenge requires that parent(s)/guardian(s) notify Teen Challenge of their intent to withdraw their child from the program at least 15 days prior to the first of the month in order to avoid being charged for the next month's tuition. Parents/guardians who pull their child from the program without sufficient notice shall be required to pay the next month's tuition."
"Reconnect Weekend - $150. Teen Challenge offers family "Reconnect Weekends" three times per year. It is required that parent(s)/guardian(s) attend these weekends. Parent(s)/guardian(s) will be billed for the reconnect weekends even if they do not attend."
"Transportation Charges - 50 cents per mile ($20 minimum) to and from Teen Challenge for all transportation of students which is not directly related to normal program activities. Examples are trips wherein a fee will be charged include: doctor visits, dentist appointments, transportation to airports or bus stations, etc."
"Activity/Spending Account - Parents/Guardians will be expected to fund a student's personal activity/spending account. It is recommended that the funding of this account not exceed $100 per month unless there is a special activity or event (i.e. missions trip)...We will also allow the student to use part of these funds to purchase soda and snacks; however, we will be placing limits on what the students can spend in this area. When funding this account, checks should be made out to Teen Challenge. Assuming all tuition has been paid, we will then place the funds in his activity/spending account."
"In the event that a student loses or destroys a text or workbook, or is found cheating in a workbook, or fails a section of his coursework and must be reissued a workbook, that student will be charged for the cost of the text or $4 for the workbook. The student himself is normally held responsible for this fee. It is usually debited from his personal allowance and/or personal funds and not charged to the parent/guardian."
"Shipping Fees - Parent(s)/Guardian(s) shall be responsible to pay a $20 handling fee plus the actual cost for shipping on any items requiring shipment from Teen Challenge. This fee must be paid in advance (prior to the shipment of any items)."
"Expenses incurred by Teen Challenge on behalf of the student - Parents/guardians must pay all costs and expenses incurred by Teen Challenge in obtaining medical, psychological, and/or psychiatric treatment, and other care for the Minor. They must also reimburse Teen Challenge for any and all clams, damages, miscellaneous expenses, or transportation costs incurred for any penalties or fees associated with the minor."
"Also, any student whose tuition is not received by the 5th of each month will be removed from the academic portion of our program until payment is made in full or satisfactory financial arrangements have been made with the director."
"I will be paying for the full 14 months of tuition at one time for a 10% discount."
HEAL has received a number of reports indicating that Teen Challenge uses the children in their programs to raise money for their programs and their friends. It is a concern that families are being charged to provide free labor and "beggars" for Teen Challenge under the guise of discipleship or "missions" for the "church".
Teen Challenge charges $1850 per month for what? Room, board, and the "standard curriculum" which includes indoctrination into the Teen Challenge cult and what, exactly, in regards to an education? Teen Challenge Ranch is not licensed as an Education Service in Arkansas. Teen Challenge would not qualify as the parent/legal guardian of a child, so, the homeschooling laws governing "home schools" in Arkansas would not regulate Teen Challenge Ranch. Teen Challenge is not a "charter school" in the state of Arkansas. As many behavior modification programs have been in trouble for not providing transferable education credits and/or honored credits or diplomas for further educational pursuits, this is a serious concern. HEAL advises parents to demand to see the license and accreditation for Teen Challenge Ranch and to investigate to insure that their children are not being denied a legitimate education.
HEAL finds it a concern that Teen Challenge requires a 15 day notice prior to a removal of a child from the program. We believe this may indicate the use of coercion or force applied to the child to try to convince their family not to remove them even if it contradicts former pleas or reports of abuse at the facility. Many programs try to bribe or use force and abuse to "encourage" children to support the program and aid in the swindling of their parents. This is a serious concern.
Are all transportation costs billed at a minimum per trip of $20 or $40? Does Teen Challenge consider a trip to an off-site location separate from the return trip to Teen Challenge Ranch? If Teen Challenge's negligence or overt act resulting in mental or physical harm to the child precipitates the child's need of medical or mental health services, does Teen Challenge place those costs on the family? According to the liability waivers mentioned in the Pre-Entry Packet, that is exactly what Teen Challenge does in regards to any harms that may befall a child while in the care of Teen Challenge. This is a concern and shows irresponsibility and an overt lack of accountability in regards to the care of children at Teen Challenge Ranch.
It is a serious concern that monies to be used as an "allowance" for the child are used to fund "mission trips" or fundraising outings for the Teen Challenge program. Teen Challenge seeks to benefit financially from the child's participation in mission trips and charging the child's "allowance" account for such outings seems unethical and not in line with recognizing the value of the labor provided by the child. How often are children allowed fun outings for recreational purposes only (i.e. sporting events, movies, bowling, etc.)? How long, generally, does a child have to spend in the program before they are allowed to have any legitimate recreation or personal/private time? In the event the child performs labor for the program, is this labor compensated? If the child is forced to labor for other businesses as part of the program, does the child receive all monies earned from those efforts? If not, why? And, what does such a practice imply in regards to the ethical standards of Teen Challenge Ranch?
How often are children accused of or charged with the loss/destruction/etc. of texts or workbooks? How much is charged to their personal accounts for replacement of such texts? The replacement cost for workbooks is claimed to be $4, but, the program does not mention the fees relating to replacement of texts. This is a concern. Since there is no oversight, the program could easily siphon funds from the child's allowance to cover other needs of the program and the program can cover up this "theft" by claiming the funds were taken for text or workbook replacement.
$20 seems like a steep handling fee when the other costs associated with the actual shipping are already being applied. Other programs charge a $2 handling fee in such events, and, this seems more reasonable.
Teen Challenge likely meant "claims" not "clams" in the "Expenses incurred" segment above. HEAL provided our concerns regarding the charging or implicating of charges to parents by the program when the program and/or its methods may be the direct cause of the harm in need of additional/outside care.
Since Teen Challenge Ranch is not an accredited school or licensed school in Arkansas, what "academic" services do they legitimately provide to families?
It appears that the length of the program is 14-months. This is a serious concern as it is unhealthy to keep a child in an institutionalized setting for such a long period. And, since Teen Challenge Ranch is not licensed to provide residential treatment or academic services, there is no oversight to insure they are compliant with education and/or health/safety laws. This is a serious concern.
Pre-Entry Packet (Page 1)
"Pre-Entry Check List"
"Counselor and Psychiatric reports"
"Medication Instructions - These instructions need to state (a) what medications the child is on, (b) the prescribed dosage and schedule, and (c) the purpose of the medication. If a child is to be weaned off of medication while at Teen Challenge, the physician should provide written instructions as to the process and schedule."
Again, Teen Challenge implies that they are qualified to review counselor or psychiatric reports. This is a serious concern as Teen Challenge is not licensed to provide therapeutic services in Arkansas. This is further established by the medication instruction requirements. Whom at Teen Challenge Ranch is qualified to monitor and administer to children withdrawing from drugs, either prescribed or illicit?
Pre-Entry Packet (Page 2)
"I have examined the above named patient and certify that he is physically able to participate in rigorous exercise, work, and recreational activities. In my opinion, he is stable enough physically, mentally, and emotionally to participate in a program involving schooling, sports, daily chores, and strict discipline."
What does Teen Challenge mean by "rigorous exercise" and "work"? Is physical exhaustion a large part of the initial phase(s) of the program? If so, this is likely an abusive behavior modification program using methods likened to brainwashing/coercive thought reform. What does Teen Challenge mean by "strict discipline"? As the physical exam is assumed to be provided by a general practitioner, how would they be qualified to determine of the child is emotionally or mentally able to participate? Also, since the actual program details are omitted, this "pre-approval" by physician appears to be more of a way to limit Teen Challenge's liability by showing that a physician "approved" the child's enrollment at Teen Challenge, moving the liability from Teen Challenge to the physician in the event the "approval" proves inaccurate in regards to the ability of the child to handle the conditions imposed at Teen Challenge Ranch.
Pre-Entry Packet (Pages 3 & 4)
"Also, please include any health records, psychological testing, special education testing, disciplinary reports, and test scores available."
"The final regulations of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (as amended on June 17, 1976) allow Education institutions to transfer records without written consent - to another school system in which the student intends to enroll."
"I (we) hereby authorize Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas, hereinafter called COMPANY, to initiate credit/debit entries to my (our) account indicated below and the financial institution named below, hereinafter called FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, to credit/debit the same to such account. I (we) acknowledge that the origination of ACH transactions to my (our) account must comply with the provisions of U.S. law."
"This authority is to remain in full force and effect until COMPANY has received written notification from me (or either of us) of its termination in such time and manner as to afford COMPANY and FINANCIAL INSTITUTION a reasonable opportunity to act on it."
Here again, Teen Challenge Ranch implies that they provide counseling services and educational services. Teen Challenge Ranch is not licensed to provide these services in Arkansas. It is imperative that parents understand the implications of a program that is operating without a license.
HEAL would not trust Teen Challenge Ranch with personal credit/debit card information or authorization to be used at the discretion of Teen Challenge to cover tuition and/or other supposed "costs" associated with the program. There are no promises to keep financial or personal information confidential. In fact, Teen Challenge requires families agree to being made public advertisers for the program prior to knowing whether or not Teen Challenge is helpful or effective. This is a serious concern and considering the age of participants, an ethical and legal concern as well.
Pre-Entry Packet (Page 5)
"The undersigned parties enter into this Agreement as an essential condition of participation in the Teen Challenge program."
"The undersigned parties accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. They believe that God desires that they resolved their dispute with one another within the Church and that they be reconciled in their relationships in accordance with the principles stated in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8..."
"Accordingly, the undersigned parties hereby agree that, if any dispute or controversy that arises out of or is related to this agreement is not resolved in private meetings between the parties pursuant to Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15, then the dispute or controversy will be settled by biblically based mediation and, if necessary, legally binding arbitration, in accordance wit the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation (Rules) of the Association of Christian Conciliation Services (current Rules attached and incorporated by this reference). The undersigned parties agree that these methods shall be the sole remedy for any dispute or controversy between them and, to the full extent permitted by applicable law, expressly waive their right to file a lawsuit in any civil court against one another for such disputes..."
It is a concern that Teen Challenge Ranch requires families to waive their rights to sue and to agree to be bound by a decision by the church, with whom Teen Challenge is affiliated. It seems a sure basis for guaranteeing an inequitable finding in regards to any disputes. Also, at least one family has reported to HEAL that their child committed suicide after being denied the "privilege" of calling his mother for support and encouragement at a Teen Challenge program in Florida. Teen Challenge's program seems to be more concerned with protecting its financial interests than with helping families in need.
The Association of Christian Conciliation Services, Inc. is based out of Billings, Montana. It is also known as Peacemaker Ministries. Don Bubna is associated with Teen Challenge and Hephzibah House. Hephzibah House is confirmedly abusive and survivors include attorneys and law enforcement officers who are taking a stand against the abuse. Don Bubna is also on the Board of Directors of Peacemaker Ministries. It is a serious concern that such an involved and supportive party would be in a position and in the sole position to decide disputes between injured families and Teen Challenge Ranch. It would appear to give Teen Challenge Ranch an unfair advantage in deciding the outcome of disputes.
Pre-Entry Packet (Page 6)
"I/We being the parent(s), guardian(s) or conservator(s) of the Minor, hereby agree(s) that Teen Challenge Ranch of Northwest Arkansas (hereinafter called "the Ranch") may assume physical custody and control of the Minor. The Ranch shall have and is hereby granted full power and authorization to house, educate, obtain medical, psychological and/or psychiatric treatment, and other care for the Minor for and during the time the Minor is in the custody and control of the Ranch."
"I/We hereby assume and agree to pay all costs and expenses incurred by the Ranch in obtaining medical, psychological, and/or psychiatric treatment, and other care for the Minor...I/We also agree to reimburse the Ranch for any and all claims, damages, miscellaneous expenses, or transportation costs incurred and for any penalties or fees associated with the minor. I/We agree to pay such costs, expenses, tuition, and fees promptly upon being billed therefor by the Ranch. I/We authorize the Ranch to obtain payment for the above costs, expenses, tuition, and fees from my/our credit card, or from my/our bank account via automatic draft or electronic funds transfer."
"I/We hereby release and forever discharge, and I/We agree to hold, save and indemnify, the Ranch, its directors, officers, agents and employees of, from and against any and all liability of whatever kind, character and nature that may arise out of, relate to, or result from the Ranch's custody and care of the Minor."
"I/We agree to remove the Minor from the Ranch immediately upon the Ranch's request to do so. I/We also authorize the Ranch to place the minor on a bus or other transportation, and to send him home. I/We also relieve the Ranch of all responsibility for his safe arrival, and understand that I/we will be responsible for meeting him at his destination."
"I/We release and discharge the Ranch from any responsibility for the Minor's personal belongings that are damaged, lost, stolen, while the Minor is at the Ranch, and/or left behind after the Minor leaves the Ranch. I/We further understand that any items left behind by the minor after he is discharged or withdraws from the Ranch maybe immediately sold, discarded, given away, or donated to charity and will not be stored for the minor or forwarded (shipped) to any address."
"I/We understand and agree that numerous trips may be made from time to time to churches, museums, recreational and other areas selected as suitable for the Minor in the sole discretion of the Ranch. I/We hereby consent to the Minor taking such trips which may be either within or outside of the State of Arkansas."
The first paragraph does not seem to be a legitimate transfer of custody from parents to Teen Challenge Ranch. The lack of legitimacy of this portion of the agreement raises concerns as to the legal responsibility Teen Challenge should be accepting as a result of the contract. We remind parents that Teen Challenge is not licensed to provide psychiatric, psychological, or educational services in Arkansas.
It is a concern that "miscellaneous fees" are repeated and such fees will be automatically debited from the family's credit or debit card accounts. This seems as if it could lead to difficulties with the family if such charges are made without notification or prior arrangement. This is part of why HEAL is concerned about the credit card/ACH agreement mentioned above.
Again, Teen Challenge Ranch claims no liability for any harm caused by their practices. This is a serious concern that they want families to indemnify them against their own wrongdoing. This does not seem in line with Christian values of personal responsibility. HEAL believes Teen Challenge Ranch knows its services are prone to cause harm and that these liability waivers point to knowingly providing faulty services.
It seems horribly irresponsible that Teen Challenge Ranch would place an alleged "troubled" child on public transportation without supervision and take no responsibility for the abandonment of a minor to such travel conditions and the risks they impose (i.e. kidnapping, etc.).
Teen Challenge Ranch runs a second-hand store called the Vintage Mall. It is no surprise that they might "lift" items from children in the program to make more money. And, in this agreement, they can do just that with impunity. This is a serious concern.
It is also a concern that Teen Challenge Ranch intends to take children outside of the state for any purpose and wants a general "permission" from parents to take children wherever the program deems appropriate. Please see our free e-book for information on what some of these "out of state" or other "trips" entail for children in programs like Teen Challenge.
Pre-Entry Packet (Page 7)
"I/We authorize the Ranch to use the Minor's testimony/life story for promotional purposes and without any liability to the Minor or me/us. This may involve, but is not limited to, media presentations, public speaking and testimonies, articles, and appeal letters. I/We also understand that photographs of the Minor may be used for promotional purposes and may be published in various forms of literature and media pertaining to the Ranch's operations."
"Pursuant to this Authorization and Release, the Ranch, its agents and employees shall have authority to make decision for the healthcare and welfare of the Minor that I/We could make for the Minor, provided, however, that nothing contained herein shall relieve or release, or be deemed to release, me/us (or either of us) from any of my/our duties and responsibility to or for the Minor."
It is highly unethical that the Ranch would exploit children in its program for promotional or material gain. This also appears to be an open violation of the privacy rights of the child. Parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children. This is a serious concern. For additional information, see www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm.
It is a concern that the Ranch seems to place the responsibility for the child's well-being on the parents, even while the child is under the care/control of the program. It seems to be another liability waiver and raises serious concerns about why so many waivers of responsibility on the part of the Ranch are included in the contract.
Pre-Entry Packet (Pages 8-10)
"Teen Challenge does not allow students to wear clothing that is baggy or tight."
"I (we) understand that the focus of the Reconnect Weekend is on the parent/child bond and therefore only parents/guardians may attend the Reconnect Weekend."
"What You Should Bring:"
"Only the clothes that the student is wearing...Christian t-shirt or polo shirt...Pants that fit and do not have holes or stains."
Children should be allowed their constitutional rights of self expression. Reasonable dress codes are acceptable. But, given the follow-up rule of "Christian t-shirt", it seems a bit oppressive.
In regards to the "Reconnect Weekend", this is one of very few opportunities afforded by the program for the child to visit with his family. It seems it would be more appropriate to allow for siblings and/or grandparents to attend if they are available. This level of control suggests a cult-like program and HEAL would recommend against placing any child in Teen Challenge Ranch.
March 15th, 2015
Last Updated: March 15th, 2015