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Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




The Family Foundation School is a boarding school in Hancock, NY which claims to have helped youth for more than twenty years and claims they are fully capable and legally allowed to provide the services they do.  This Campaign and through the use of this website claim, through strong evidence and investigations, that the Family Foundation School has been abusing children in their care for more than twenty years, and they use the guise of "Treatment" to cover up the abuse.
If you are a parent thinking about sending your child to the Family Foundation School, please review this website and the information we have gathered so, hopefully, you will reconsider.  We can help, email us at
info@thefamilyschooltruth.com for more information.  Stay informed, Stay safe, Keep your child safe!

December 2013 UPDATE
In November 2013, The Family Foundation School changed it's name to the Allynwood Academy
The administration of the school claim this name change to Allynwood Academy is due to their change in direction and commitment to being a place for troubled teens, although our campaign has information to believe the school changed its name to distance itself from the negative history of abuse they have on the internet and within the Troubled Teen Industry
Our campaign has information to show that although the Allynwood Academy (formerly Family Foundation School) has made some changes to their operations, that the school still holds youth against their wills, forces them to say they are an alcoholic or drug addict, and traumatizes youth within their care.
Please read through our website and keep in mind that the Family Foundation School is now the Allynwood Academy so essentially they are the same place.

If you are thinking about sending your child to the Allynwood Academy (formerly Family Foundation School) we urge you to educate yourself about what we uncovered and choose wisely.  If you are currently using an 'educational consultant', be warned that most of the students currently enrolled at the school were referred by 'educational consultants' which worries us that parents are not educating themselves about placement for their child. 
Educational Consultants, or EdCons as we call them, charge parents ridiculous fees in the thousands to refer their child for placement
Feel free to email us at info@thefamilyschooltruth.com or send us a message at our facebook page.

New York State Education Department Records Show Long Standing Refusal to Intervene with Child Abuse and Fraud

UPDATE July 2013  -  In 2011, our campaign requested all documents from the New York State Education Department relating to the Family Foundation School following a 2010 State multi agency investigation (which can be viewed here or at the bottom of this page) into child abuse spanning over twenty years at the school.

What we obtained at this time are documents that contradict what the Family Foundation School Administration has claimed, that they are "unaware" of any abuse allegations or concerns in the past, and confirm what our campaign has alleged since 2009.  Since the retrieval of the documents listed below, the Family Foundation School has implemented a strategic plan to increase enrollment at the school, which includes partnering with more Educational Consultants (a.k.a. EdCons), who are usually members of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association), to refer more and more students to get enrolled at the school. 

The Family Foundation School has repeatedly failed to honestly and publicly admit faults from their abusive history, and although our campaign has confirmed that some physical abusive tactics are no longer in use, there is still severe psychological, emotional, verbal, and some physical abuse and neglect still going on at the Family Foundation School.

Below are links to some important documents that is a glimpse into how extensive our request for records went, along with the extent of concern about abuse by State investigators outside of the Education Department. The documents linked below represent a small part of NY State's agency which licenses drug and alcohol treatment centers concerns with the school as early as 1990. It includes their concern for the children at the school as well as the school's lack of licensure to operate and market themselves as a drug rehab (the school is not licensed to treat children with substance abuse issues or with disabilities). THESE ARE THE SAME CONCERNS STATE INVESTIGATORS BROUGHT UP IN 2010, further disproving the school's claim that they embrace and are open to changing for the better.

The school also received a letter from the State demanding they stop operating and marketing themselves as a drug and alcohol treatment center. NY State's former director of nonpublic schools, Thomas Hogan (who retired after the 2010 investigation) told the other agency that its none of their business - exactly what our campaign heard him say at a 2010 marketing event run by the Family Foundation School, while he was praising the school's work during a speech.

In the Family School Employee Guidelines documentation, many of the guidelines contradict how alumni claim they were treated, but since the document was revised in 2008, we are interested to see the guidelines prior.

We also included an email sent to NY State in 2006 from a parent who was concerned with the treatment her son was receiving at the school. Again, the State did NOTHING.

The other records we obtained which will be published here on a later date include a 1998 State investigation into abuse after a New Jersey judge who sentenced a child to attend the school discovered that he was mistreated and was subjected to abusive conditions. The state once again passively took action and told the school to stop wrapping kids in blankets and duct tape as a form of restraint - the school told the investigators that using that method is less abusive than using mechanical restraints (like handcuffs).

Our campaign is disgusted with the continual lack of any real actions taken when State agencies have uncovered the same methods being used throughout the last 21 years at The Family Foundation School with three official investigations (the 1998 investigation will be published soon) all showing the same neglectful and abusive behavior by Family Foundation School administrators and staff.

Four New York State Agencies Investigate
Abuse Allegations at 
The Family Foundation School
We obtained the FULL investigation & 
The Family Foundation School's
Response to the State's investigation
In March 2010, our campaign scheduled a meeting with The Office of Mental Health and the Center for Quality Care for Youth with Disabilities (CQC).  During our meeting seven of our volunteers told the state agencies why we thought the Family Foundation School was operating their facility under false pretense and abusing kids in the process.
We gave them each a 200+ page book with all the testimonials we have collected (published and private) along with investigations and evidence we have collected (also published and private) supporting claims of abuse throughout The Family Foundation School's more than thirty year history.  We explained our stories of abuse and asked them to do what no other agency has done, go to The Family Foundation School and investigate for themselves.

In June 2010, The Office of Mental Health, CQC, NYS Office of Alcohol Substance Abuse Services, and the NYS Education Department conducted a two-day unannounced visit to the Family Foundation School.  They interviewed students, observed practices, and reviewed records.

Although the investigation did not uncover any physical abuse at the time of the visit, they found many other things that were cause for immense concern at The Family Foundation School.  The agencies that visited did have their hands tied though, because New York State lacks an effective mechanism or authority for ongoing oversight of such institutions.  The link below will bring you to the states investigation letter they sent to the owners of the school.
As a result of our campaign's visit with State officials, new legislation is being drafted to give these agencies complete oversight of institutions like The Family Foundation School

 The investigation uncovered evidence that caused investigators concern, including:

  • Overcrowded trailers and dormitories whose upkeep posed possible hygiene, fire, and safety hazards
  • A practice called "landlocking," in which students deemed a flight risk are barricaded in their dormitories
  • Inadequate nighttime staffing
  • Students compelled to exercise inappropriate supervisory and clinical responsibility over other students
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) inappropriately supervised in accordance with New York State Education Department standards
  • Students mandated to spend hours and sometimes days in solitary confinement, in a "time out / quiet room," which exceeds acceptable New York State and Federal guidelines and arguably constitutes aversive intervention practices in some instances
  • Broad latitude given to non-credentialed and unlicensed personnel to make decisions regarding the use of time out/quiet rooms, particularly given the profiles of the students with serious emotional and psychiatric conditions at the school
  • Staff utilizing face down or prone restraints on students, presenting a greater risk for the youth of positional asphyxia, a potentially deadly outcome
  • Students inappropriately encouraged or allowed to take part in providing emergency assistance, including restraining other students (taking down peers in distress as well as holding another student’s legs until staff arrived, for example)
  • Non-credentialed staff members illegally providing psychotherapy and other clinical services legally reserved and restricted to SED-licensed practitioners in New York State
  • Non-qualified staff members sometimes placed in the position of making lethality assessments for students in a crisis
  • Lack of protocol to ensure that comprehensive psychiatric screenings are conducted prior to admission
  • False or misleading claims in the School's marketing materials, program literature, and website (for example, investigators found no evidence corroborating the School's claim that it provides Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to students; the School also advertises chemical dependence treatment services when it lacks valid state certification to provide these services)
  • Inconsistently or erroneously documented student medical records
  • The Family Foundation employs a number of "sanctions" against students, utilized for overt and perceived violations of the rules, which would not be allowed and could be considered harmful in licensed mental hygiene programs for individuals with significant histories of trauma and mental illness
  • Group sharing exercises known as “table topics” that can sometimes be utilized in a manner that may compromise the mental health problems of some students
  • The school does not have a system that reviews complaints of abuse and neglect

The Family Foundation School was given 30 days to respond to the State investigation and we obtained the full response from the school.
The School took no responsibility for any of the State's concerns.  The School responded to the investigation completely on the defense.  One of our campaign's issues with their response is they have conned countless families into thinking they are sending their children to a 12-step treatment center, but once again The Family School sticks to the fact that they are only a boarding school

The Family Foundation School was sent a follow up letter which can be accessed by clicking HERE, where the State stood behind many of their findings.

The Family Foundation School responded once again, claiming no wrongdoing and calling alumni liars again by stating they "reject their allegations" of abusive conditions.  ACCESS THE LETTER BY CLICKING HERE

Finally, The State investigation was closed.  Because The Family Foundation School is not licensed or regulated by any agency besides the NYS Education Department (as a school), the State investigators had little to no legal authority to do anything besides make suggestions to the school.

     If your child needs help, please take the warning and do not send your child to the Family Foundation School!  They have and will continue to abuse children until they take full responsibility for their actions!

This is a video from a Capitol Hill briefing on Institutionalized Child Abuse with a youth rights group called ASTART.  Survivor of The Family Foundation School, Chris Noroski, told his experience from the school.  The video is real, and not staged as The Family Foundation School administration alleges on their website.  Chris Noroski currently serves as Vice President for the Youth Rights Advocacy Group CAFETY.

In 2008, Jon Martin-Crawford, a survivor of the abuse at The Family Foundation School, testified, under oath, in front of Congress to the abusive practices and tactics that he experienced and witnessed at the school.  The Family Foundation School responded in a press release stating "we will not dispute his testimony" but recently Family Foundation School administration, including current owner Rita Argiros, have called alumni testimonials "lies".

This is a video testimonial from an alumni of The Family School in Hancock, NY. Emily Valentine tells from her experience at the school and how The Family School used coercive tactics to force children to submit to the school