Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) is a member-driven education and advocacy organization, led and driven by former residents of harmful residential care for minors and our allies. We promote and secure the human rights of youth at risk of placement by organizing and empowering former residents in becoming educators and advocates for alternative programming.
- For more information, please see CAFETY's accomplishments, Annual Reports page, FAQ's and bylaws.
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Our 'Care NOT Coercion' Campaign
CAFETY believes every child, including children exhibiting emotional and behavioral differences, have the right to live with family and be included in their community. Therefore, we categorically oppose the discriminatory segregation and isolation of children on the basis of such differences. We actively promote alternatives to institutionalization and combat placement by conducting investigations and issuing reports addressing systemic issues that perpetuate the myth that children who are struggling or different do not retain the same right to live with family and to be included in their community as other children.
We build off the strength of our community and provide empowerment opportunities for survivors and capacity building by providing material resources and technical assistance in support of local and national educational and advocacy. We provide essential support through holistic advocacy and leadership trainings, opportunities for collaboration and learning among local leaders, and provide the resources necessary to build impactful, comprehensive advocacy and educational campaigns. Our trainings uniquely target the individual, interpersonal and societal challenges survivors of institutional trauma encounter when engaging in this personal advocacy work. Survivors go on to lead our chapters, participating in all areas of our systemic advocacy work, in promoting our message of care.
CAFETY's "Care, NOT Coercion Campaign" works to increase awareness of states that house residential programs that are coercive and operate under a philosophy or use practices that undermine the dignity of youth. The primary focus of our campaign is to address one of the inherent risks of institutionalization – the use of torture, abuse and coercion to change the behavior of our nations most vulnerable - its children. Many states do not have adequate regulation in place or do not effectively monitor residential programs. Some facilities escape regulation entirely. Our goal is to ensure that all states and the federal government meet their obligation to currently institutionalized youth, including but not limited to, ensuring that comprehensive regulation, effective monitoring and an independent system of review exist to ensure youth are safe and that placement is nondiscriminatory and appropriate, in accordance to those rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Children's Rights Convention.
The members of CAFETY envision the day that no young person is harmed in the name of treatment and when youth are empowered to be equal partners in their own care.
As CAFETY members, we have come to know the suffering of those confined in residential programs and are moved to act.
- We provide support for program survivors through outreach, advocacy, and the sharing of common experiences.
- We acknowledge that present policies addressing the needs of youth struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are inadequate in scope and reach.
- We advocate for measures that would effectively help youth and families remain together and find treatment in their community.
- We recognize that some youth are inappropriately institutionalized and seek to prevent this type of segregation from the community.
- We also believe that, in the event youth are placed in an out-of-home setting appropriately, the basic human rights of youth must be protected.
- Appropriate care includes protection from harm and access to treatment by a qualified professional that is transparent, confidential, and non-coercive. It also means holding providers accountable for the services they provide.
We hope to achieve this by:
- Outreaching to survivors,
- Creating a support peer network to empower our youth survivors advocates,
- Utilizing the power of personal narrative to educate the public, mental health professionals, policymakers and stakeholders,
- Supporting, organizing and mobilizing our members/chapters
- Tracking and issuing reports and recommendations of the expereinces of youth in residential placement
- Coalition building with like-minded organizations.
CAFETY’s Goals and Advocacy positions
- General Advocacy Points
- Access to advocates
- The right to due process - independent review of admissions and continued placement
- Alternatives to aversive behavioral interventions - right to bodily integrity
- Alternatives to restraints and seclusion - right to bodily integrity
- Acccess to community-based care
- Lowering age of consent to mental health treatment - right to bodily integrity
- Routine reporting of abuse in residential treatment programs
- Federal government oversight and monitoring of residential treatment programs
- Ratification of the Children's Rights Convention
- Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol
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