Crosswinds Response to Defamatory Media
The following information is provided to shed light and truth on the accusations brought upon Crosswinds by the alumni of New Horizons Youth Ministry and specifically by several individuals who have made statements to defame our organization.
To our knowledge, these individuals have never called any Crosswinds employee, parent that has a child in Crosswinds program, or Caribbean Mountain Academy graduate to discuss their concerns. Information about Crosswinds or Caribbean Mountain Academy shared by these individuals is based on assumption and/or distorted opinion, not fact.
It is crucial to first understand that Crosswinds absolutely did NOT merge with New Horizons Youth Ministries and simply rename “Escuela Caribe.” New Horizons Youth Ministry, including Escuela Caribe and all other programs, was permanently shut down in 2011. Crosswinds is a completely separate organization with different leadership, programs, staff and philosophies on helping teens. To learn more about how Crosswinds got started in 2012, please read the “Crosswinds History” section further down this page.
Kidnapped for Christ
On July 10, 2014, the documentary Kidnapped for Christ premiered on Showtime. To clear up confusion due to some misleading information provided in the documentary about our connection to Escuela Caribe, we offered people the chance to learn the truth about our program and a number of questions were posted on our Facebook page. In an effort to provide answers to these questions in the most clear manner and to the widest audience, we have posted the questions and answers below. Some questions were duplicated and therefore not included. If you have further questions that have not already been asked, please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will include them on the page as quickly as possible.
Q & A
Do you perform a gay conversion therapy?
Absolutely not. We have never accepted nor will ever accept a student with a purpose of keeping them from being gay or changing them from being gay.
Do you address their homosexuality and tell them that it is a sin? Do you also “punish” them for homosexual behaviors outside of sexual acts? Do parents send their kids to your camp for the sole reason that their child is gay?
We have never and will never accept a student into our program because of their sexuality. In fact, not too long ago our CEO got a call from someone who said they were a parent looking for a program to turn their gay teen straight. He told them that we could not help them since that is not our focus or goal. The caller then told him that they were actually a gay rights activist who had been calling to test us, and that we had passed her test and proved to her that this is not our mission.
Why is the school in the Dominican Republic?
Our location in the Dominican Republic offers teens the opportunity to experience another culture apart from the materialistic, fast paced, technology-driven society of the United States that they are not thriving in. In addition, the opportunity to meet and serve the Dominican people through community projects allows them to: gain a sense of purpose bigger than themselves, learn to value relationships over things (as they see true joy from people who are materially poor but rich in relationships), and learn the value and satisfaction of giving back to others.
What about confidentiality of the students in this program? how have you been able to have open access? (Asked in response to a former parent vouching for the loving environment of our program)
The man who wrote this response stated in a previous comment that he has a child enrolled in our program. He has visited his child five times in the past months, and has had open access each time to ask questions of all our staff and see every aspect of our programming.
Are any of the staff in the DR licensed? I noticed two have degrees but no mention of being licensed.
All key positions at our school (teachers, counselors, etc.) are educated professionals who are qualified to serve families and teens in their field. Our lead teacher holds a teaching license—this is listed on our website. Our team of Master’s Level therapists are overseen and supervised by our Clinical Director, a licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).
Operating under the supervision of a licensed therapist is not only legal, but in fact required under law. To become a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) after receiving your Master’s Degree, you are required to gain 2 years of experience in the field under the supervision of a licensed therapist. Once you have 2 years of experience, you are then eligible to take the licensing test. All of our CMA therapists (other than our supervising licensed therapist) are Master’s Level therapists currently in that 2 year window of supervision. As soon as they complete their 2 years of experience, they will become licensed.
Are students ever denied food as a punishment?
Are students asked to supervise other students?
Students are only ever given a leadership position over other students under direct staff supervision. Never will a student be the sole supervisor. Giving the students leadership roles as they progress through the program has proven successful in teaching them responsibility and concern for others.
Are students locked in their room at night?
Students are never physically locked or confined in any space.
Is incoming and outgoing mail monitored?
Yes, incoming and outgoing mail is reviewed. Parents and students are both aware of this policy and understand that we are not reviewing correspondence to invade the privacy of our students or those who are writing them. Rather, we are reviewing as a safety procedure to ensure the correspondence is not written by someone the parents have deemed would be detrimental to the treatment of the student.
Are phone calls monitored?
Crosswinds policy allows a minimum of 10 minutes and up to half of each phone call to be completely unmonitored and private, giving each child the ability to speak openly about how they are doing. The remaining portion of the phone or video call is monitored as a crucial part of our therapeutic process. One of the primary goals of our program is to help families learn how to communicate with each other in a healthy and effective way. Monitoring a portion of the phone calls allows our therapists to identify communication issues and then work through these issues during individual and family counseling sessions. As communication improves, less and less of the call or video call is monitored, as it is no longer needed as part of treatment.
If you have nothing to hide, then why do you continue to employ former EC staff members? If you truly wanted to distance yourself from EC, wouldn’t it make sense to cut all ties with EC practices including former staff members?
You are correct that the easiest thing to do would have been to cut all ties with former EC staff. In fact that was one of our options when we started but chose to evaluate each person individually, rather than make them immediately guilty by association. Each of the staff members that we decided to allow to work for us were carefully interviewed and evaluated and we believe that they were indeed good people and excellent staff. It is our philosophy to treat people the way we would want to be treated if in the same position.
Are there currently any former Escuela Caribe staff members working for Crosswinds? Last week on your website I found two former EC staff still working for you.
There are no former EC staff members working for Crosswinds that work directly with the children of CMA. One of the staff members on the website is in charge of maintenance and the other one had simply not been removed from the web site.
Each time we have spoken about former staff we have been referring to former staff that had direct responsibility for the care and well-being of children, or were responsible for the programming that directly affected the care and well-being of children. With that in mind, our facilities manager did work for Escuela Caribe for some time, but is and has always been in the maintenance department. The other staff member in question has not been an employee of Crosswinds for over a year and should have been removed from the website some time ago. In order to make sure that we give full disclosure, this staff member did return briefly to the campus after the death of one of our other staff members due to a terminal illness, to help our staff and students deal with the death of a part of their community. He has also done some limited work via the internet over the past year, but does not currently have any Crosswinds clients and will not be used in that fashion in the future.
Can you explain how you are differnt from NHYM the original programming directors? Also, is there swatting, limited food, casitas, and QR practices in this “new” program you have initiated?
Absolutely none of the practices listed above are a part of our programming. We differ from the directors of New Horizons Youth Ministries in many ways, but the main difference is in our basic philosophy on helping teens: Our goal is not to make a child conform or comply to certain behaviors by breaking them down through force. Rather, our objective is to build teens up and help them see the value of making good choices so they will want to continue to make good choices after they leave. We do this through positive reinforcement (rewarding good choices with privileges), teaching students how to build healthy relationships (both through mentoring relationships and professional counseling), and helping them rebuild broken family relationships through counseling.
Are students forced to sleep on a non-solid platform?
All students are given comfortable sleeping arrangements. Our goal is not to “break” our students by taking away basic comforts, but to build them up. Watch this slideshow to view the changes that have been made to the campus since Crosswinds has owned the facility. We think you will see that we do not run a stark institution but a vibrant facility that is full of life and love, not deprivation.
Are students given access to proper medical care?
Absolutely. Caribbean Mountain Academy has trained staff, certified in first-aid delivery, on-site who handle all non-serious medical issues. Any medical emergencies are taken to the local medical clinic located in the town of Jarabacoa, which is less than 10 minutes away. If necessary, larger hospitals in Santiago can and will also be used.
Are students restricted or punished when having to use the restroom?
No. See the Structure and Discipline section of our website. Using the restroom is considered a basic human right and would taken away as punishment.
Where is a list of your board of directors located at? It appears founders of NHYM are on your board as well as two key members of their staff…redwine and seabrooke.
This is false. Neither of these individuals are on our board of directors. A list of our real board of directors can be found here.
Why are some of your staff in Dominica republic not paid and required to raise money to cover their own expenses? Are these missionaries or people with experience working with teens and families struggling with a variety of issues.
All staff in the Dominican Republic are qualified for their role in our program and are required to undergo the same interviews, background checks, and screenings as our staff in the United States. Key roles such as teachers, counselors, management, etc. all have the proper background, education and licensing for their given role. The reason staff raise support is to keep tuition costs low for struggling families. None of our staff or leadership are in this for financial gain or to “line their pockets,” as clearly evidenced by their willingness to raise their own salary, but because they believe in seeing teens and families restored to healthy and thriving relationships.
To help you better understand the truth about Crosswinds history, we want to first provide a brief overview of how Crosswinds was created. To begin, it is crucial to understand Crosswinds absolutely did NOT merge with New Horizons Youth Ministries and simply rename “Escuela Caribe.” Crosswinds is a completely separate organization with different leadership, programs, staff and philosophies on helping teens. Here is the truth about how we got started:
For many years, Lifeline Youth & Family Services (The company that founded Crosswinds/Caribbean Mountain Academy) had been looking for ways to take their successful programs for children and families who were involved in the court system to the hundreds of everyday families who called each year looking for help. Many of these families were facing problems with their teen such as substance abuse, extreme anger, or delinquency, and recognized the need to seek help before the problem became worse and courts became involved.
It was Lifeline’s goal to intervene early with youth and families who were struggling and to prevent more serious consequences from occurring. To that end, Lifeline began by launching an In-Home Family Counseling program, which brings home-based, personalized, counseling and therapy to families reaching out for help. Looking forward, Lifeline hoped to expand this program to include residential treatment options for teens that temporarily needed a change in their environment.
In 2008, Lifeline’s CEO was approached by New Horizons Youth Ministries’ management and asked if Lifeline would like to merge. After discussion, due diligence and evaluation, Lifeline declined the merger.
Several years passed and New Horizons continued to falter and ultimately made the decision to close. At this time, Lifeline was asked if the organization would be interested in acquiring the remaining assets of New Horizons, mainly properties and facilities, upon its closing.
In 2012, after years of further discussion and evaluation, New Horizons permanently shut down and Lifeline officially acquired their remaining assets. The addition of the facilities allowed Lifeline’s leaders to create the residential option they had been working towards. Subsequently, they were able to oversee the birth of a new organization that combined both the family counseling and residential components: Crosswinds.
Today, Crosswinds brings the experience of nearly 50 years of service from Lifeline to this new organization, which offers a full range of services to help families in crisis.
Since our founding in 2012, a number of specific areas of concern have come up, based on assumptions that our programming at Caribbean Mountain Academy is the same or similar to that of Escuela Caribe. We cannot speak to nor answer for the behavior of a past organization, but we can provide clarity on the details of Crosswinds principles and programs.
The following topics have been brought up as areas of concern:
Isolating teens in a third world country
Although Caribbean Mountain Academy is located outside of the United States, both Crosswinds and Lifeline headquarters are not. We answer to a number of U.S.-based accrediting bodies, including COA and CSI. In addition, Lifeline is under stringent regulation and oversight from the state government. Caribbean Mountain Academy’s location in the Dominican Republic offers teens the opportunity to experience another culture apart from the materialistic, fast paced, technology driven society of the United States that they are not thriving in.
The Level System
In order to be successful there must be a system. It could be called a “level system”, a “grade” in schools, “belts” in karate. Regardless of the name of the structure of Caribbean Mountain Academy’s program, its philosophy is completely different from that of New Horizons. Overall, the Caribbean Mountain Academy system encourages and promotes positive behaviors and offers privileges for doing so. No child ever loses a level for negative behavior, instead they lose privileges, much like a parent would implement at home with “grounding” or loss of privilege for negative behaviors. Caribbean Mountain Academy Level System.
Escuela Caribe almuni have claimed that New Horizons pushed families (parents and others) out of the lives of their children. Crosswinds goal is to reunite a teen with their family as quickly as we can. In addition, we are working with the family who is at home every week that their child is at Caribbean Mountain Academy. Students talk, video conference, and write to their parents. In addition, Crosswinds allows anywhere from ten minutes up to half of each phone call or video conference between students and parents to be completely private and unmonitored. The remainder of the call is monitored as a crucial part of our therapeutic process, allowing our therapists to identify communication issues and then work through these issues with both the student and the family during their individual counseling sessions. As communication improves, less and less of the call or video are monitored, as it is no longer needed as part of treatment. Overall, we encourage positive communication between parents and teens and strive to help families create Lasting Change that will result in life-long positive family relationships.
Use of a “Quiet room”
The room that New Horizons Youth Ministries used as a quiet room has been renovated into a beautiful apartment for visiting parents! Caribbean Mountain Academy does not believe in the use of solitary confinement or a “quiet room” and therefore does not have one on our campus.
For families searching for a residential program for their troubled teen it is normal to inquire about the cost of programs only to find that the tuition is anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000 per month! Crosswinds has been blessed to receive the Caribbean Mountain Academy campus as a donation, is overseen and managed by an organization with over 50 years of experience with little expense, and provides opportunities for interns and missionaries, with appropriate experience, as support staff, to keep overhead low. In addition, we seek grant support to offset tuition even further to ensure that finances are not a deterrent to families that truly need help but do not have the financial means. With all of this in mind, the tuition for Caribbean Mountain Academy is currently $2,500 per month, which is one of the most affordable in the industry and we intend to maintain this philosophy. Crosswinds goal is not to line our pockets, but to provide an excellent program for troubled teens and their families. In the end, we want to see families’ reunited, happy, and successful – long term.
From the day that Crosswinds started its programming in the Dominican Republic we have held ourselves to the very same stringent standards that our partner organization, Lifeline, is held to by the State of Indiana. We also adhere to the standards of COA, a national accreditation held by Lifeline. Each and every day we strive to be the very best at serving children and families. Our academic program is accredited by Christian Schools International (CSI), a gold standard accreditation program that is based on both a dedication to measuring the mission of the school and the process for continuous school improvement.
Gay Conversion Therapy
It has never been and never will be the practice of Crosswinds to participate in gay conversion therapy. We have never accepted nor will ever accept a student with a purpose of keeping them from being gay or changing them from being gay.
It was recently brought to our attention that a line in our application caused some confusion on this topic for several individuals. In the section of our application that allows parents to check boxes next to descriptions of the struggles their child is facing, one line previously read, “Inappropriate sexual behavior with same or the opposite sex.” This was never intended to imply a participation in gay conversion therapy, but rather to encompass any past or present sexual issues a child was facing.
For example, we recently got a phone call from a parent whose son was taught an inappropriate sexual game in third grade by an older male. This traumatic experience has caused their now teenage son to act inappropriately around his peers. His behavior is such that it would be inappropriate if directed towards anyone, regardless of gender. This type of situation is what that box was meant to portray. However, we recognize how that statement could be misleading and to ensure there is no future confusion about our negative stance on gay conversion therapy, we have changed it to instead read, “Inappropriate sexual behavior.”
Body Slamming, Rock Support, Push-Up Support, Silent Support, and Bucket Support are all terms associated with the past practices of New Horizons Youth Ministries. None of these practices are used at Caribbean Mountain Academy and, in learning what each of them even meant, the leadership of Crosswinds were horrified that such practices were ever used by any organization claiming to help troubled teens. Information about Caribbean Mountain Academy’s practices can be found here.
In closing, we would like to note that Crosswinds continues to be saddened by the endless chain of stories of abuse from past students of New Horizons, and understands that this kind of pain doesn’t simply go away. However, we ask that people seek the truth about Crosswinds through direct contact, rather than defamatory petitions, blogs, or other sources which are written without first seeking facts.
We also welcome you to read testimonials written by Caribbean Mountain Academy graduates and current parents of Caribbean Mountain Academy students. To date, we have had no claims of abuse, mistreatment, or an overall negative experience from a single one of our program graduates or parents.
During a recent interview with our CEO, a reporter referred to Crosswinds as a “beacon of hope” for kids and families in crisis. As an organization that has been working to overcome the sour reputation of the organization that previously owned our campus in the Dominican Republic, these words were incredibly encouraging!
We are excited about the opportunities we are continually given to change the lives of teens and families, and want to make sure that even those who are most skeptical of our organization are able to see how Crosswinds makes the well-being of families our top priority. To this end, we have invited several of those who have been the most outspoken in their concerns about our program to visit our campus and to see our amazing facilities, meet our staff, view our program in action, and ask any unanswered questions. Unfortunately, one has already declined our invitation via blog post. Read her post and our response.
Our team enjoyed the opportunity to speak with one of our most outspoken accusers. We feel that during this conversation, many questions were answered and many misconceptions were corrected. At one point, this individual said, “You guys actually sound really good.” However, she admitted that because of the past of Escuela Caribe, it is difficult for her to believe this to be true. We understand this, and understand that trust is something that must be earned. All we ask is to be given the opportunity to do so.
Crosswinds has nothing to hide.
If you have additional questions or concerns please feel free to contact Crosswinds leaders at 855-927-7963 or via email using the links below.
Mark Terrell, CEO
Jacquie Downey, VP of Marketing
Kevin Hedrick, VP of Residential Services