Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thank you

Dear Readers,

I would like to personally thank all of you who have e-mailed us and who have shown your support here.

I remember a time when Cathy Corry and I talked about the early days of our advocacy work and how much of the work we had to do ourselves. We learned about the "Power of One". Today, it is refreshing to know that we are not alone in this fight, that there are many others who have devoted time and energy to our organizations because they have the same vision we do - to stop children from being abused in residential treatment settings and in the juvenile justice systems.

CAICA could not exist without you - its dedicated Board of Directors, Volunteers, and those who Support our work. It truly is a Coalition of Parents, Advocates, Laywers, Survivors, and others who have all come together for a common cause - to help stop child abuse in all residential treatment settings.

During times of adversary it is important to remember our purpose and our goals so that we do not get distracted from what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Together we can, and do, make a difference in the lives of children!

Isabelle Zehnder
Founder and President
Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA)

In addition ...

It was brought to CAICA’s attention that there are claims CAICA refers children to programs and transport companies for the purpose of placing a child or teen in a program.

CAICA does not refer children or teens to programs. CAICA has, on very rare occasion, shared resources to parents in need of safe placement for their child or teen when all other options had been exhausted.

CAICA does not refer to transport companies for the sake of transporting children or teens to any facility or program.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who IS Patti Atwoods?

Dear Readers:

There seems to be some question as to who Patti Atwoods is and why it even matters. Patti Atwoods does not exist. She was made up by a deceitful woman - a liar and a fraud - someone claiming to be her in an effort to harm Isabelle Zehnder – a Child and Family Advocate - the Founder and President of the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA). Patti called from San Antonio, Texas - 210-251-2902.

Patti found Isabelle's friend, Sandy, on MySpace and contacted her. Patti lied to Sandy and to Isabelle. This selfish caller took up over three weeks of precious time that could have been used to help other families. She claimed she wanted to remove her nephew from what she believed was an abusive program. (E-mail correspondence below).


It now appears the motive was to try to discredit Isabelle and CAICA who have devoted the past four years to helping families whose children were abused in teen programs and to provide a service to the public by creating what others are calling the most comprehensive website on the topic of institutionalized child abuse.

Isabelle is not radical - she does not believe all programs should be shut down. What Isabelle is trying to accomplish is bringing awareness to the fact that children and teens are being abused in programs and to find a way to not only stop the abuse but to make those who abuse children accountable for their actions.

Who are these people and what drives them?

We have seen a pattern that victims of abuse in these programs seem to despise anyone and anything that is not in line with their ways of thinking. Perhaps this is a result of the years of abuse they themselves endured. Many were mistreated in teen programs and they are very angry, understandably. Some are people with their own hidden agendas.

The sad thing is that victims are misdirecting their anger. The truth of the matter is there are kids who need help that their parents and local therapists can't provide. The anger should be directed at those who abuse children. And rather than stay angry it would be more useful to the cause if everyone worked to find positive solutions and to try to get this industry regulated so that kids do not have to continue to endure abuse behind closed doors. It is daunting – there is a great deal of work to be done to accomplish this. But Isabelle and those at CAICA believe it is a cause worth defending.

“Patti Atwoods” wasted three weeks of precious time that could have been used to help others. "Her" supporters continue to do everything in their power to discredit Isabelle. Threatening e-mails being sent are being taken seriously and have been forwarded to the proper authorities. There is a fine line between free speech and Internet Slander and Defamation. That line has been crossed.

June 27, 2007
Written by:
Editorial Board
Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA)

May 9, 2007 6:53 AM
Hello Isabelle,

Thank you for writing.

Sandy has been so great in helping me., and I appreciate her support and time.
My sister enrolled her son, Jason, at Tranquility Bay in January. This is the first special school he has attended. She chose an out-of country school because of he has run away before. Besides Jason's behavioral problems, there is much conflict at home, especially between Jason and my sister's current husband.

My sister planned to use Jason's college fund to pay for TB. I am the executer of Jason's college fund and other funds. I have not approved payment of TB, because the inadequate educational benefits; and what appears to be a lack of psychological counseling. Sandy asked many questions - and I hope she shared the information with you. I will try to remember the important ones: Jason's biological father is not in the picture. I don't know how my sister has been paying TB these past months; or what type of contractual agreements she has signed with this organization. I'm preparing to attend a conference next week, and need to get things nailed down. I'm a CPA, and I am used to working "a plan."

Now, I am confused, and worried about my nephew. I need a "plan" to present to my sister, to convince her to remove Jason from TB immediately. I don't believe Jason can live back at home, due to the ongoing conflicts, and his own issues. If a summer program can be arranged, to be followed by a boarding school in the fall; I believe I can convince my sister to follow this "plan," especially if I agree to release funds to pay the expenses.
I need assistance in finding the proper summer program and school for Jason.[Emphasis added] The school must have academic standards, as well as provide counseling for Jason.

If this does not work--then I will speak with my attorney. I have no "custodial rights," and really do not know my legal rights to intervene in Jason's release from TB. My assistant, Noreen has been helping me research these issues. She confided to me that her brother is having serious problems with his teenage daughter, age 15. They live in Flagstaff, AZ. This girl has been skipping school, using "drugs" (I don't know what kind), ignoring curfews and rules, constantly fighting with her mother, and running around with an older boy they don't approve of. Recently the mother found birth control pills in her purse. There parents have been talking to an Educational Consultant, and have been told about a school in Utah. Noreen doesn't know the name of the school, but now, she wants to be sure it's not one of these wwassp schools.

I won't make any decisions until the end of school. But, Noreen is trying to help them find a good summer program [Emphasis added], and go from there. Isabelle, I am not familiar with parent-teen-coaching. But, I think this would be beneficial for Jason and his mom, if he was away from TB.

Now, he is only allowed letter-writing communications. I hope I answered the questions you needed. Thank you for your concerns.

Date: May 9, 2007 11:36 AM

Hi Sandy,

Patty responded. She sounds legit, but it's hard to say. Please read her e-mail (below) and see if there are any red flags or inconsistencies that jump out at you. I will wait to hear from you before I respond to her.

The only thing she has going for her is that she holds the $$ - if nothing else this child will have money when he comes home (if he ends up staying in TB - which of course I hope he doesn't).

I need to explain more about coaching and how it has helped keep families together. [Emphasis added] It would be nice if she could convince her sister to try that. One problem is the new husband - very common! These new husbands often have no patience
for the wife's teen. I've seen this over and over. And the girl who is going out, etc., she sounds like a teen doing teen things. [Emphasis added] It sounds to me that she and her mom could be helped with coaching rather than sending this child away.

I'd have to know more and be sure the child is not suicidal, etc. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.

Date: May 9, 2007 7:47 PM

Thanks for the info, it helps me understand where things are at. Please either provide me with your phone number and some times I can call you or give me a call at 360-369-6547 or 360-903-3951.

Thanks, Isabelle
Date: May 11, 2007 6:26 PM

Hello Isabelle,

I have been working extended hours in order to meet various deadlines for clients; and to prepare for the NCCPAP Spring Conference I will be attending next week. Are you available to talk by phone in the evenings? This would be better for me, since I am constantly interrupted during the day with client calls at work.

I may return home on Thursday afternoon (May 17th); rather than attend Friday's sessions at the conference. II will see how things go at the office; and how things are progressing with these family issues.

Noreen's brother is looking at a wilderness type program for his daughter, but he has not signed any papers, yet. Noreen has convinced him to look at another option she researched, because she thinks this would be much better for her niece. I't called equine-assisted-therapy, and Noreen is very excited about what she has researched so far. Apparently her niece is an accomplished rider, owns a horse and competes in rodeo type events. Do you know anything about this type of therapy; or do you know of any programs that include "equine therapy" that may be appropriate for a 15 year old girl?
My sister did not hear from Jason this week; but at times his correspondence is sporadic, which concerns me, even if it does not seem to worry her. But then, I have been reading a lot about TB; so my apprehension continues to grow.

Do you know why this Tranquility Bay Documentary film has not been released in the United States? I read the reviews of this film, and I will share this information with my sister. I look forward to discussing options for Jason when I can talk to you by phone. Noreen found a few schools/programs during her research that sound promising for Jason.

Again, I hope to have some type educational plan intact before I confront my sister, and push her to remove Jason from TB immediately. I'm sure that she will not consider removing Jason from TB, without some plan for his enrollment in a summer and fall program. [Emphasis added] Hopefully you can provide the names of acceptable schools; and then I can only hope that these schools will have an opening on such short notice.

Perhaps you can recommend something to help Noreen, too. Noreen says she is afraid her brother is acting too quickly, and needs to take the time to research more thoroughly.
I look forward to hearing what options may be available.

And here is the e-mail that I wrote in response to Patti's very specific requests - the name and number of the transport company used by another parent to transport the adults to and from the airport to the facility, NOT TO TRANSPORT A CHILD AND THIS WAS TO BRING A CHILD HOME - Sue's contact information so her sister could have options - my coaching website - and a way to donate to CAICA:

From: (Isabelle Zehnder)
Subject: Arrangements
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 19:32:51 +0000

Hi Patty,

We just got off the phone so you know the person to contact is James.
His direct number is 435-229-9378. The main number at Sunrise
Adolescent Transport is 435-673-3202.
The person to contact re the programs is Sue at 954-349-7260. She is aware of the situation so just let her know I sent you to her. I normally don't give out her direct, home phone number but she said OK.

She has over 7 years experience helping families so I feel confident she'll steer us in the right direction, if we need to go that direction. Here's a link to my website regarding coaching in case you want to go that route: Please let the family know I am available to talk with Jason soon after they pick him up from TB. Often it is beneficial for me to talk to the child to let them know what is happening and why. The kids trust me once they know who I am and what I do. If you would like to help CAICA by making a donation, please go to and click on the Visa/MasterCard Donate button. We'd really appreciate it!

Talk to you soon,