Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)



State Investigates Abuse at The Family Foundation School
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!