Thursday, April 12, 2007

Isabelle Zehnder: Announcement

Isabelle Zehnder, Founder and President of the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA) is announcing she is expanding. She has recently founded Positive Family Solutions, LLC to provide Professional Child, Teen, and Parent Coaching services. Isabelle will continue to serve families and the public through her advocacy work with CAICA.

Most recently, Isabelle coached a distraught mother and her daughter. The mother called Isabelle after finding her website, She felt she was being pressured into making a hasty decision and appreciated Isabelle's advice to "take a breath" and be sure she had fully researched the industry to determine whether or not her daughter truly needed to be placed into residential treatment. After some discussions and research she realized the issues were not insurmountable and that she could most likely work this out at home with the help of coaching and local group therapy for ther daughter. After coaching her and her daughter, Isabelle received the following e-mails:

"Your insight is empowering. I had no idea this industry (behavioral boarding schools ect.) even existed until I recently started looking for help for my daughter. It's unbelievable how many programs are out there & how many kids are in them. The thought of it not being regulated is very scary. I have decided at this point to seek as much help as possible for my daughter while she remains at home. I have also come to realize that the constant conflict between us isn't getting us any where so I am trying to let go & let her learn some life lessons on her own ... I would be "very" interested in your service to help us to communicate better. I do feel as though most of our problems are based on lack of communication. I also know that my daughter has serious issues with abandonment since her father moved 3,000 miles away."

She most recently received this e-mail:
"It was really great talking to you! You have helped put things into perspective for me. It is a very difficult decision but knowing that there are people like you out there who only have the kids best interest at heart takes away the fear of the unknown about programs & the process. And reminding me to take a deep breath & not make rash decisions was just what I needed to hear & I am following your advise. You were very instrumental in getting me thru probably the most difficult time I have had as a parent & I will always be grateful that our paths crossed. It would have been so sad if I sent her to a boarding school & lost this time with her all because of an abusive boyfriend."

Isabelle has spent the past three years researching and reporting child abuse, neglect, and deaths in residential treatment facilities and other residential programs for children and teens. She put together the most comprehensive website on the topic, She was awarded the TASH Award in Excellence for Public Service in 2006 and was recently asked to serve on the TASH Public Policy Committee. She has also been asked to speak at their 2007 conference.

Isabelle has spent the past three years finding out what is wrong - she believes it is time to see what she can do to make it right!

Isabelle knows she cannot possibly do this alone. She is a team player who believes it will take a group of dedicated individuals to effect change. She has collaborated with a team of professionals who are putting together a comprehensive program to serve children with disabilities and/or behavioral issues and their families.

Isabelle recently met with Rose Moore of ADHD Child Advocate Services who will work together and with other professionals to provide quality services for these children and their families. Each of these professionals are currently working to assist families - they will now join together to provide a complete wrap-around program that will see children with disabilities and/or behavioral issues through the entire process from evaluation to reintegration.

It is their goal to provide a complete wrap-around program that will see chidlren with disabilities and/or behavioral issues through the entire process. They will then provide their professional services to evaluate the child and to work with the families, the school districts, and the judicial system to ensure each child is provided the best possible services he or she needs and deserves. If issues arise where a child is not receiving the services necessary the professional team will work together to advocate for the child in the school and court systems.

It is our goal to avoid unecessary placement into residential treatment settings whenever possible. Because school districts, therapists, and the court system are quick to refer children to residential treatment, and because parents are finding themselves at their wits' end and unable to cope, our team of professionals will work to provide viable options to work with the child within the school system and their home environment whenever possible. We believe placement into residential treatment settings should be the last option after exhausting all other rememdies.

Our team provides a wide array of services for the child and his or her family. We advocate for children with disabilities, weaving our way through the school and legal systems to be sure the child receives the services he or she needs, while Isabelle provides Parent, Child, and Teen Coaching to help families through the process.

We understand there are times when a child will need to be placed into a residential treatment setting. In that event, we will work with the families, the school disctricts, and the court system to ensure the child is placed into a safe, therapeutic environment, and our team of professionals will monitor the child during his or her stay in the facility.

We will not stop there. In order for this to be a complete wrap-around service, we will provide our services to children, teens, and parents when the child returns home to help the family reunite and to help the child or teen integrate back into the school system and into society.

About Isabelle:

25 years of research in child behavior and child development;

Attended and participated in series of seminars on child abuse & prevention;

Founder and Manager of Positive Family Solutions, LLC, dba Parents and Teens Unite, where I will provide coaching to parents, teens, and pre-teens who can benefit from the tools and resources I can provide. I plan to not only offer coaching and mentoring, but I will also offer workshops, seminars, parent/child, and parent/teen retreats;

Founder and President of the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse "CAICA", an organization working to bring awareness and change in the for-profit youth industry that, for the most part, is unregulated. I learned of the injustices that occur in these facilities October 2004 and have felt compelled to make a difference for the children who have been harmed and their parents who have been defrauded;

Expanded my efforts as the Founder and President of CAICA to bring about awareness and change regarding the injustices that occur to children in mental health facilities, juvenile justices systems, and other state-funded facilities;

Working with parents, former students, lawyers, government officials, Child Protective Services, and the press to promote regulation and monitoring of the so-called “teen-help” industry;

Member of Board of Advisors, volunteer investigator, and researcher for Tom Coleman at the Emancipation Project, working to promote regulation and monitoring of the “teen-help” industry;

Founder and President of Positive Solutions (1995 to 1998) providing community workshops for parents, children, and teens, including Mommy and Me, Terrific Twos, Cooking for Kids, Parents and Teens Unite (a program designed to bring parents and teens together and to help them learn new ways to effectively communicate and understand one another); Babysitting Tips for Teens;

Volunteered for bi-annual Summit Meeting for Teens, a program designed to teach teens effective ways to communicate with their parents and to better understand their needs as well as the needs of their parents;

Worked as a legal Secretary/Paralegal for 7 1/2 years;

After-school tutor, tutoring children with learning disabilities and those who needed assistance to meet their potential;

Operated a licensed in-home child care providing a safe, loving, and educational environment for young children;

What a few people who know her have to say:

I would like to take a moment to recognize the most dedicated child's advocate I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I have known Isabelle for the past 8 years when my young daughter was having difficulty reading. Isabelle was her private tutor and with the most tender approach helped my struggling 2nd grader achieve miraculous advancement in her reading ability. My daughters self esteem in reading was built in whole by the patience and understanding Isabelle used in her technique. In short a wonderful relationship has been built between her and my entire family.

In terms of the teen incarceration efforts that she has displayed as an advocate for freeing both known friends and perfect strangers I have never seen such a gallant effort on any single person’s part. This woman has opened her home and heart working literally thousands of hours of her own time including evenings, weekends, and holidays even when I knew she was completely exhausted. I must also say that she has done this without a single penny of reimbursement to herself. In fact I know she has spent thousands of dollars of her own hard earned money towards this cause. I could never in this short amount of space convey to any person how deeply committed to children and their rights she truly is. What's going on in these facilities is simply horrifying! She has taken each and every child into her heart and has helped numerous families by taking the time to both explain conditions and opening their eyes to the true disgusting conditions these children are being put into.

I am so very proud to know such a dedicated human being. What she has accomplished in a very short amount of time I am sure will help thousands of children and their families. She has touched all of us with her kind actions.

Yours Truly,

Donna Rutherford


Having worked closely with Isabelle Zehnder for some time, I can attest to her deeply held convictions about the rights and well-being of children. She possesses a true zeal for this work that brings her seemingly endless energy, compassion, and empathy.

I cannot think that there are many better advocates for the countless voiceless children and teenagers that have been thrown away into behavior modification camps. She has my trust and respect, and believe that she has the fortitude to continue to work to educate parents, children, and communities about the danger and moral repugnance of these behavior modification programs.

Anthony Suter
Performance Librarian
University of Texas at Austin


In the ten years I have known Isabelle I have never known her to lie and she is always a champion of what is right, especially when it comes to the welfare of children.

I have seen her go to extraordinary lengths in this regard. When she says this needs doing, I believe her.

Judy Hill


Isabelle and I have been neighbors for almost three years. Soon after moving into the neighborhood I was in a serious car accident. She called and came over often to see if I needed anything. I knew I could count on her and from there our friendship flourished.

As a mother, grandmother, and educator of young children I recognize and understand Isabelle’s passion to protect children and their rights. As a society we tend to forget that children have inalienable rights before they turn 18.

Isabelle is trying to make a difference for children in such situations and to educate the public as to these injustices. She is a sincere, caring, trustworthy, and dependable person trying to make a difference in our society.

Friend and neighbor,
Sally Shooter