In the spirit of honesty, disclosure and transparency, we want you to know that there is a disinformation campaign being waged against The Family Foundation School and the adolescent therapeutic industry at large by a small number of alumni from FFS and various other schools and programs, and their friends and allies. They are still angry about their placement here and/or feel they were harmed in some way by their time with us.
In 2010 we participated in a thorough investigative review by the State of New York Commission of Care & Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQC). Despite the state’s findings of no abuse or neglect, the mere fact of the review received negative spin by our critics on the Internet as well.
This page with its periodic updates is dedicated to helping you separate fact from fiction, and to process and balance the negative and positive information that is on the web about The Family Foundation School. I am glad to answer any questions you may have and invite you to visit and tour the school to determine for yourself the reality of who we are.
Jeff Brain, MA, CTS, CEP
Director of External Relations & Dean of Admissions
Certified Educational Planner, Certified Trauma Specialist
Changing the Things We Can
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
Five years ago when a small group of former students launched an internet campaign against the school, we went through the 12 Steps in the spirit of practicing what we preach: We listened, took our inventory, admitted where we were wrong and made amends as we could.
In a very real sense we have been living with our shadow these past five years, face to face with a past we cannot change. As painful as it is, we learn a great deal from our critics. Their voices of dissent served the therapeutic development of the school. The changes in policies, procedures and practices we’ve made since 2008 not only better reflect our mission of helping students through the difficulties of adolescence, they are improving our students’ chances for a healthy, productive future. Some of these most recent changes include:
Spiritual Exploration. We have replaced mandatory chapel with a program of spiritual exploration in which students spend an hour a day exploring spirituality in a way that works best for them: religious services, silent meditation, guided meditation or community service.
Single-Sex Houses. While classes and activities remain co-ed, the Family School houses and families are now single-sex. As a result, students are more focused on their schoolwork, more involved in their recovery and more comfortable at the table discussing sensitive and personal issues with their FFS families.
Transition Support. Students leaving the structured environment of the school are now stronger in their recovery and better prepared to succeed thanks to more home visits and breaks throughout the school year that put their new behaviors to the test before they return home for good. We have also liberalized our phone call and letter-writing policies.
The Bridge. This new and separate program helps seniors prepare academically and emotionally for college, and helps college freshman balance the demands of classes and social life once they are part of the campus community.
Individualized Service Plans. Each and every student in our care has a unique service plan to make sure his or her stay with us is nothing but beneficial. The plan takes into account the student’s unique background, academic needs and emotional issues, as well as talents and interests that could be cultivated while the student is here.
Individual Therapy. We have increased our emphasis on therapeutic counseling, giving all students access to one-on-one counseling where they can express themselves and their emotions safely, privately and confidentially with a Masters- or Ph.D-level therapist.
Focused Group Therapy. We have added new group counseling sections for students who have specifically asked for help with anger, grief and loss, adoption, self-harm, food, and social anxiety issues.
Technology. All FFS students are now equipped with iPads, enabling them to take advantage of the many academic resources available digitally and online, and to keep up with the world of technology that awaits them when they leave.
Emphasis on the Outdoors. For the many students who come to us from Wilderness programs or with strong outdoor interests, our activities list now includes wilderness first aid, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, skateboarding, interscholastic cross country, and more.
Staff Training. Today’s FFS staff understand more than ever the extraordinary challenges teenagers face in a culture that often seems indifferent to their well-being. Weekly staff training is a fact of life on campus and keeps us sensitive to the emotional needs and legal rights of our students. These include the rights spelled out by New York’s Dignity for All Students Act, which guarantees students an environment free from discrimination and harassment, regardless of their “actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.”
Adolescence is still rough, and helping troubled teens get through it can be just as rough. When our detractors surfaced five years ago we could have let them be the end of us and The Family Foundation School. Instead we let them be the end of certain policies and procedures that no longer had a place in our therapeutic environment. Their activism is directly responsible for many of the changes and the rate of change that have improved the lives and the future of the students we serve. For that we are deeply grateful.
We encourage you to learn more about us by exploring further: