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Re: Discovery Connections/Discovery Academy: any feedback?

Dear Rachel,

Hi! The last time we updated our page on Discovery Academy was in March, 2015. Programs do not change much, if at all, in a 2 year period. This is true even when management/ownership changes if you look at the program materials and remaining staff. I'm not surprised that they are trying to market with a new name strategy. It is not unusual for programs with bad reputations to change their names or operate or advertise using multiple names. Such remains a red flag for us at HEAL when looking at whether a program may be fraudulent and abusive or investigating complaints about the program from former clients.

What is your purpose for taking a tour of the program? Are you looking to enroll a loved one or are you in the referral industry? Either way, I'd suggest you think about the following before enrolling a loved one or recommending anyone else do the same:

Here is our 5 point argument against institutionalization:

a. Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation. It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment. For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at Or, see: which includes in part: "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."

b. Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive. Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights. Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)." (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)

c. Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children. Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family. Source:

d. Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful. Best source on this currently is:

e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments. Sources: and

You may also want to see the following: