Family School Student Enrollment: 2008 = ~265 2012 = ~100
THE FAMILY FOUNDATION SCHOOL
OFFICIAL WEBSITE ___________________________
York State Education Department Records Show Long Standing Refusal to
Intervene with Child Abuse and Fraud
UPDATE January 2012 - 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.
are still going through all the documents we obtained at this time
and working on legal channels to bring those responsible for allowing
the abuse to occur to justice. 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.
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 document, 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.
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.
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).
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
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 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
Founded in 2009, this campaign is a volunteer organization dedicated to exposing child abuse at an Upstate New York Boarding School