Saturday, April 28, 2007

ISABELLE ZEHNDER (CAICA): 2006/7 Accomplishments

CAICA provides a tremendous service to many who have turned to them for help.

Remember, together we can - and do - make a difference!!


Comprehensive Website & Weekly ListServ:

CAICA has worked tirelessly to put together what many have called the most comprehensive website on the subject of children and teens abused in residential treatment facilities and programs. The website is well-organized for ease of use to its readers. CAICA has also worked to keep people apprised of current and archived news and information.

Founder and President, Isabelle Zehnder, has written a number of articles and Press Releases that have been widely distributed on the Internet. Isabelle's articles and presence on the Internet helped her achieve "Expert Ezyne Article Author" recognition.

CAICA keeps the public informed via its weekly ListServ updates provided to Government Officials, Legal Professionals, Media, Law Enforcement Agencies, Fellow Advocates, Universities, Researchers, Parents, and other interested individuals.

Victory in Florida:

CAICA collaborates with Parents, Lawyers, Media, and Government Officials to expose abuse in the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice System (DJJ). DJJ has a longstanding record of serious allegations of abuse and deaths in their programs, including the most recent allegations of abuse by Justin Caldwell and Christopher Sholly, and the deaths of Martin Lee Anderson, Anthony Dumas, Chad Andrew Franza, Daniel Matthews, Dillon Taylor Peak, Omar Paisley, Shawn Smith, and Willie Lawrence Durden, III.

Our efforts have finally begun to pay off and have resulted in positive changes to one of DJJ's programs, Dozier School for Boys, and the termination of employees who abused children and/or failed to report abuse they witnessed. The Secretary of DJJ has promised to "clean house" and said, "Heads are going to roll, people will be fired, and charges will be pressed." We believe the work in Florida has just begun and it is our hope to see reform throughout Florida DJJ.

WWASPS - 82 plaintiffs, over 100 expected soon:

During the summer of 2006 CAICA was contacted by a young man who indicated he was severely abused at World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS) facilities, both physically and mentally - he was one of many. Isabelle Zehnder of CAICA, Sue Scheff of PURE, and this young man's mother worked together to locate the Turley Law Firm in Texas.

After the Turley Firm reviewed information provided by CAICA they agreed to take the case and the lawsuit was filed August 26, 2006, in the Utah Federal Court. The initial lawsuit was filed by three plaintiffs - within four months that number grew to 82 plaintiffs and is expected to grow to well over 100 plaintiffs in the near future. It is our hope that those responsible for the abuse, neglect, and deaths of these children will finally be held accountable for their actions - and that these victims will finally see justice served.

WWASPS touts a high success rate and denies all allegations of abuse. However, when this many people come forward - former students and parents alike - we believe their is cause for concern. The fact that some students claim success does not lessen the fact others were forced to eat their own vomit, beaten, hog-tied, to name just a few. It is no different than a family that has four children and abuses only one. The family may look great on the outside but that one child needs to be heard and needs vindication. As do these young people.

Bringing Awareness to Children Who Have Died:

CAICA has researched deaths of children and teens in residential facilities and programs, including restraint deaths. We have compiled lists of children who have died with supporting news articles and documentation.

In 2006 a Cornell University Professor used the information provided on the CAICA website to assist in preparing for a conference regarding restraints in Europe. His presentation was seen by many and the data he compiled will be used by others who are interested in this issue and in stopping these needless deaths.

Team Work - It Works!:

Founder and President Isabelle Zehnder believes in people working together. Through her passion and vision she has formed a large network of people including Parents, Lawyers, Media, Government Officials, and others all over the world who believe in CAICA's cause to help stop abuse and deaths in residential treatment settings and to hold those who abuse children and teens accountable for their actions.

Campaign to Ban Deadly Prone Restraints:

CAICA and parent, Cynthia Allen, have spearheaded a campaign to ban the use of deadly face-down prone restraints nationally. Cynthia Allen's son, Joey Aletriz, is among children who have died when they were abused and restrained in residential settings. A number of advocates and parents have joined in our efforts. Please help to more widely distribute our Petition which can be found at

Mentoring Victims of Abuse:

CAICA provides mentoring to victims of abuse in residential treatment programs. Some victims who have contacted CAICA have been severely abused - as mentioned above, they were hog tied, forced to eat their own vomit, tied down in dog cages, beaten, and so much more - many are struggling in their daily lives. Some were literally thrown out in the streets if they did not wish to remain in the program after their 18th birthday.

CAICA would like to provide financial assistance to victims whose lives have been severely damaged. We would like to see their lives transformed and with your financial assistance, that dream could become a reality.

Assisting Parents Who Were Stripped of Their Legal Rights:

CAICA has been contacted by parents whose children have been placed into residential facilities or programs by their ex-spouses without their prior knowledge and consent, which is most often against the Court's rulings. In many cases the program itself has forbidden parents from seeing or speaking with their child and the child is held incommunicado. CAICA has assisted parents and their lawyers to regain these parents' rights.

Staff Letter:

CAICA prepared and distributed a letter to staff explaining their rights and responsibilities when they witness child abuse in residential treatment settings. Click here for the letter.

We are happy to report that staff members have found this letter and have contacted us to report child abuse they witnessed while working in residential facilities for children and teens. Please help to more widely distribute this letter.

Founder and President, Isabelle Zehnder:

In November 2006 Isabelle was awarded the TASH Award for Excellence in Public Service for her establishment of CAICA.

She has been honored with an appointment to serve on the TASH Public Policy Committee as of May 2007 and has been asked to be a speaker at the TASH 2007 Winter Conference in Seattle. Isabelle's speech this winter will be entitled "Children: Warehoused for Profit."

Isabelle was a guest on the Highway2Health show in January 2007 and on the Rose Moore Show twice in March 2007. As noted above, Isabelle and Rose will continue working together to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and behavioral issues.