Our Response

Like many programs in the youth treatment industry, Havenwood has recently come under some criticism in the press. The industry as a whole has been denounced based on negative anecdotal stories from former residents who may have not had a good experience in treatment, or others who think treatment should never be hard or messy. The work we do at Havenwood is difficult. It is difficult for the care-givers and it is difficult for those seeking help, including their families and loved ones. By definition, we are working with troubled young people and struggling families on very difficult issues and in very difficult circumstances.

Havenwood understands that there are identified problems in the industry and it actively works with others to improve the treatment process for all involved. Unfortunately, the press has been quick to align with negative stories and has completely ignored countless numbers of people who have found healing from what we do.

Havenwood has historically been reluctant to respond publicly when it has received criticism. We prefer to work directly with individuals to resolve issues with the respect and privacy for others we strive to maintain. There are times, however, when critics stray so far from the truth that a response is necessary. Below, we have chosen to briefly respond to criticism that Havenwood has received from a few attacking media sources. 

Claim:

Havenwood regularly practiced humiliating and harmful practices with clients. 

 

Our Response:

This allegation is based on an incident that occurred in June of 2018. In that incident, a young woman in the Havenwood program who was participating in equine activities became dysregulated and was trying to fight and harm staff. She injured a staff member and our contract equine specialist put zip ties on this young woman’s wrists. The equine specialist then sat her in a horse trough that had water in the bottom of it.

This action by the equine specialist was in complete violation of Havenwood’s policies. It was unfortunate and improper. Havenwood took full responsibility and made appropriate changes. No such incident has ever occurred before or after this event.

Claim:

Despite the fact that State Licensing and law enforcement investigated the zip tie incident, they did nothing and Havenwood received no penalty or sanction as a result. 

 

Our Response:

Havenwood immediately self-reported this incident to the Utah Division of Licensing and law enforcement, both of whom conducted independent investigations. The Division of Licensing appropriately placed Havenwood on a Corrective Action Plan to ensure that there would be no repeat incident. We agreed with the Corrective Action Plan and fully complied. Law enforcement closed its file on Havenwood without requiring any further action. 

This action by the equine specialist was in complete violation of Havenwood’s policies. It was unfortunate and improper. Havenwood took full responsibility and made appropriate changes. No such incident has ever occurred before or after this event.

Claim:

Zip ties and horse troughs were used as “therapeutic discipline” at Havenwood, sanctioned by the Clinical Director.

 

Our Response:

Zip ties and the incident described were NEVER a "therapeutic discipline." These actions were not part of any Havenwood policies and procedures, and violated all training conducted by Havenwood. We were as shocked as anyone when we found out what had happened. Had it been part of a standard practice, there would have been no alarm or reason to self-report the incident.

Claim:

It is implied that Havenwood has been caught by the state deploying abusive treatment methods and the state has done nothing about that. Havenwood has had several “critical incidents” reported to the State, which is evidence that Havenwood is not a well-run program.

 

Our Response:

We voluntarily and immediately report to our state regulators any incident that falls outside of the normal course of treatment, even if it is a simple oversight. Like all good programs, we don’t need to be reported because we have already submitted the report ourselves. Even if we get negative publicity for doing so, we strive to be in complete compliance with governing laws and rules because it makes us a better program and better serves our people.

Since Havenwood and other high-end programs report even the smallest violations, it will appear that we have more problems than those that prefer to hide their issues. The media is more likely to target self-reporting programs as they are an easy, visible target. 

Claim:

Havenwood lobbied for painful restraints and it is implied that this is part of our program philosophy.

 

Our Response:

We don’t use painful restraints. The only time a safe restraint is appropriate is when a young person is trying to harm themself or others. Havenwood has discussed with legislators that non-injurious restraints are a needed safety measure with some violent or self-harming young people. Without such tools those young clients will be too much for treatment programs to handle and they will wind up in the juvenile justice system instead. 

Claim:

Havenwood is merely a re-branding of Integrity House.

 

Our Response:

Havenwood bought the physical and documentary assets of Integrity House in 2014. Integrity House, which no longer exists, and Havenwood share no programmatic, therapeutic or operational similarities. No one involved in Integrity House prior to the sale is involved in Havenwood. Any attempt by anyone to otherwise connect the two programs in any manner is inaccurate.

Claim:

The founder of Havenwood, attorney Blaine Hofeling, is only interested in abusing children and making money.

 

Our Response:

A reporter requested an interview with Blaine. It was clear that she was working on a negative report and we made a decision not to participate in that sort of an interview.

Instead, Havenwood offered the reporter a chance to come into the program and spend time with and interview our leadership, our employees, our young women and their parents. There were no time limits, informational limits, or parameters (other than HIPAA) placed on this invitation.

She declined. She declined transparency, openness, and the truth about our program. If she could not create a hit piece with Blaine alone, she wanted nothing. Blaine has been nothing but transparent and continues to invite reporters, regulators, legislators and others into the program for a first-hand view of Havenwood.

Claim:

Havenwood is not a reputable program as evidenced by the dissatisfaction of some former clients with the treatment process.

 

Our Response:

Our job is saving the lives of extremely traumatized young women. It is difficult but rewarding, messy but beautiful. It is distressing to have our life-saving work painted negatively but we do understand that this comes with the territory to some extent. There is a saying in the psychological world, “Hurt people sometimes hurt people.” We understand that people in pain sometimes lash out.

Claim:

An attack website makes innuendo that Founder Blaine Hofeling is part of Integrity House, Executive Director Ken Huey makes staff and children uncomfortable, Program Director Albert Behling worked in an abusive program, COO Nathan Hofeling only got his job because he is related to Blaine, Clinical Director Diana Baldwin only “claims” specialties, therapist Kyle Peterson worked at an abusive program and Assistant Program Director Bryan Cook worked for an abusive program.

 

Our Response:

The attack site is backed by Paris Hilton and others who think residential treatment should be regulated out of existence. It uses words like “allegedly” and “reportedly” to hide from slander and defamation charges. It is impressive in its use of spin and innuendo but does not represent Havenwood or its people accurately in any way.

One Last Item:

Early in 2022 we received an internal report of a male staff member behaving inappropriately with one of our teen girls. We looked into it and fired him immediately when we found evidence he had let a teen vape and had kissed her. We called law enforcement and urged them to pursue him, even though it could mean that Havenwood would be blamed in the news. We wanted to get him charged so he could never again work in the treatment industry. As a result, he will never pass a background check that will allow him to work in another program or with teens again. It did create a bad press article but we felt it was worth it to keep this man away from treatment environments.

Havenwood believes in protecting all youth–its own and others, no matter the cost.