This pertains to our daughter’s 4 month stay at Eva Carlston Academy located in Salt Lake City, Utah. After researching this facility we had the impression this would be a nurturing and supportive environment for our child to continue her growth and development as she was exhibiting depression and anxiety. She was supposed to attend for 12 months, however after 4 months spent at this facility we saw how it significantly impacted her in a negative and damaging way, so we decided to remove her from the program.
When we originally researched the facility we believed the intention of the program was to give girls an intimate sense of home as well as access to the cultural resources and opportunities of a large city. In this family-style setting we were told the girls learn a strength-based approach to skill building, problem solving and emotional regulation, social-skills development, and preparation for independent living. However, we later learned that faculty instituted the rules and the use of point cards in a negative way. There was a significant focus on negative consequences where punishment was the cornerstone; this is not the type of program a depressed and anxious child should be subjected to.
All correspondence and conversations with family are monitored heavily and any complaining to parents leads to a heavy negative consequence. In order to refrain from receiving these negative consequences our daughter felt she had to hide her feelings and couldn’t open up and be honest about her emotional state. The fact that our daughter was not allowed to express herself, robbed us from the opportunity to remove her from this extreme and abusive program.
The dietary restrictions they place on these girls is not healthy. They strictly measure every serving of food and also force the girls to eat everything on their plates at each meal or they will receive negative consequences. They are given a very short amount of time to eat the food given, which often times causes them to vomit due to this added stress; again this results in another negative consequence. Snacks are given based upon your daily score card results and often leads to girls going to bed hungry and being malnourished due to the lack of food. These restrictions can very easily cause eating disorders with a child not being able to feed her body properly and ignoring natural hunger signals as it needs nourishment during these developmental years.
The staff comes across as uncaring and inhumane given the fact that these girls are intimidated and punished for showing any sign of emotion. The focus is on severe negative consequences instead of positive reinforcement. The girls are even given rules about when they are allowed to use the restroom as if they can control when their body needs to be relieved.
There were some therapeutic benefits, but they were by far outweighed by the emotional abuse, intimidation, and extreme conditions. I strongly regret sending my daughter to this facility and am emotionally distraught as I watch my daughter continue to be traumatized by this center. I request a full and thorough investigation into the center and its practices. My hope is that your investigation will help prevent families from choosing this facility.