Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth

  • DC


1101 15th St. NW Suite 200
United States

About Us

Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) is a member-driven advocacy organization that promotes, secures, and protects the human rights of youth who are confined in residential programs or who are at risk of being confined in such programs.

We believe the state has an important role in ensuring that youth and those with disabilities receive non-coercive care and are protected from treatment that undermines their human dignity. CAFETY's Care, NOT Coercion Campaign works to increase awareness of such problem programs and states that allow such practices as a result of inadequate regulatory policy or ineffective monitored. Some facilities escape regulation entirely and are often known as behavior modification programs, character building schools, wilderness programs, gay re-education camps, boot camps, or therapeutic boarding schools.


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.


We, as CAFETY members, have been moved to act by our having suffered egregious human rights violations in residential placement. Others in this community alliance have come to know the suffering of those who have been confined in such programs and are moved to act as well.

1. As individuals who have been placed in some type of residential setting as youth, we acknowledge that present policies to address the needs of youth struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are inadequate in both scope and reach. 2. We advocate for measures that would effectively help youth and families remain together and find treatment in their community. 3. We recognize that some youth are inappropriately institutionalized and seek to prevent this type of institutionalization and segregation from the community. 4. 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 by the state. 5. Appropriate care includes protection from harm, and access to treatment that is transparent, collaborative, and non-coercive. It also means holding providers accountable for the outcomes of the treatment that 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 and
  • Building alliances with like-minded organizations.

CAFETY’s Goals and Advocacy positions

  • Access to advocates
  • The right to due process
  • Alternatives to aversive behavioral interventions
  • Alternatives to restraints and seclusion
  • Routine reporting of abuse in residential treatment programs
  • Federal government oversight and regulation 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