Mental Health Providers Informing Policy Change on Youth Residential Facility Placements

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Mental Health Providers Informing Policy Change on Youth Residential Facility Placements

This webinar was co-sponsored by Unsilenced

Learn about DRC and Unsilenced’s efforts to promote community-based, less restrictive alternatives to youth residential facility placements. Mental health providers, families, and survivors who endured abuses of the “Troubled Teen Industry” weigh in on how California practices and education pipelines that place youth in out-of-state residential facilities could be changed to ensure the safety of young people.

About the webinar:

This webinar is the fourth installment of our 4-part Youth Residential Facilities series hosted by DRC & Unsilenced. This town hall-style training was geared towards mental health providers and other community members interested in learning more about the abuses endured by youth in “Troubled Teen Industry” residential facilities and what can be done to change the systems that place them there. We also discussed the development of DRC’s legislative agenda to influence policy change at the state level in California and used a live survey tool so participants could weigh in on what changes should be made.  

This webinar provides a foundation for why change is needed. Possible legislative strategies include: 

  • Require data reporting & analysis – volume, demographics, other metrics on youth placed in residential facilities inside and outside of California through education, foster care, juvenile legal & private programs 
  • End the placement of youth in out-of-state residential facilities through the education system/Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Increase funding for alternative community-based care/programs within California
  • More in-depth state inspection and certification of facilities  
  • Improved standards for minimum qualifications and training of facility staff 


Meg Appelgate is the Founder and CEO of Unsilenced, a non profit organization aiming to stop institutional child abuse within the Troubled Teen Industry (TTI). She is a survivor of two TTI programs, where she spent a combined total of three and a half years of her life. Meg is a fierce advocate for change, dedicated to protecting young people and ending institutional abuse and the programs that perpetuate it.

Marissa Linderman works for Unsilenced as the Director of Advocacy. She joined Unsilenced in May of 2022, fueled by her drive to turn her pain of surviving New Haven Residential Treatment Center, a Troubled Teen Industry (TTI) program in Utah, into a purpose. She feels passionately about child advocacy, creating a brighter future for mental healthcare in the United States, human and civil rights, supporting her fellow survivors of the TTI, and ending institutional child abuse. 

Disability Rights California Youth Practice Group Attorneys, including: 

Allegra Cira Fischer is a Senior Policy Attorney with the Youth Practice Group at Disability Rights California. She focuses on state legislative advocacy regarding education equity for students with disabilities, school discipline, and securing supportive, community-based care for youth. Allegra is passionate about working in partnership with impacted community members to advance positive systemic change.  

Lauren-Ashley Mendez is a Senior Attorney within the Youth Practice Group at Disability Rights California, California’s protection and advocacy organization. Lauren passionately believes in every child’s right to access their education and has dedicated her career to representing youth in the area of special education. Lauren has extensive experience fighting for the special education rights of children with disabilities at due process hearings, mediations, resolution sessions, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. 

Gabriela Torres is the Managing Attorney for the Youth Practice Group at DRC and represents disabled students across California at IEP meetings and in all types of litigation. Gabriela has significant policy and litigation experience in educational, environmental, and municipal law. Prior to joining DRC Gabriela was the Deputy City Attorney for the City of National City where she advised the City and its departments on matters involving municipal law, legislative development, environmental matters, and litigation. 


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