The Family Foundation School

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Information
Current status Open
Detainees.gif Capacity 240
Checked November 7, 2010
Open.gif Opened 1979

The Family Foundation School is a behavior modificaton facility located on 431 Chapel Hill Road, Hancock, New York 13783 [1]

It was founded in 1979.

They are able to detain 240 teenagers aged between 12 and 18.

The average length of a stay is minimum 18 months [2].

Program structure

Admission process

The parents have to apply and they are encouraged to a visit, but the teenager are not allowed on campus before entering the facility [3]

For Parents Only

The tour and interview are for parents only, not for the prospective student, so if you are a single parent or are traveling alone, you are welcome to bring another adult relative or adult friend of the family. We do ask that you make arrangements for younger children, as we are not able to accommodate them during interview visits.

Levels

They use a kind of level system where junior teenagers in the program are monitored by both staf and teenagers who have been there longer. Access to personal laptop is something the teenagers can earn.

Student life

When entering the facility the detained teenager are put in one of 8 "families." Each "family" consist of 30 teenagers. A family has a two family leaders.

Each of the detained teenagers has a sponsor and a junior sponsor. Alltough the program detain teenager of both genders they live in gender-separated dorms.

Church

The day starts with mandatory chapel which is lead by a leader (Catholic, Protestant or Jewish on a rotating basis. Students are required to attend each day's Chapel service (even though it may not be of their religious practice); they are not required to subscribe or believe to a particular religion but instead are asked to maintain respect and appreciation of each service.

Communication

Communication is with parents alone. Siblings are only allowed to communicate with the detained teenager if the parents and the staff member handling the case. No communication with friends are allowed at all.

During the first month letters are the only way of communication. After a month the teenager may recieved a weekly phonecall, but the right to communicate with parents are something to be earned [4].

Students may lose communication privileges for a variety of reasons. The most common is for not doing their homework. By making letters and phone calls a privilege that students can lose, we restructure relations between parents and children. At home, most of our students avoided communicating with their parents. Here, after a few months, students comply with behavioral expectations so that they can make calls home. Thus we transform contact with parents into a positive reward instead of something to be avoided.

Visits

The first visit is on-campus in relationship with a parent seminar held on campus. It is held 6 to 8 weeks after the admission. It must be in a public setting, so any possible negative information about the teenager state can be adressed. If the teenager progress in the program the next visit - still on-campus - will be held in relationship with a Family Group after 4-6 further weeks.

After 6 months some student are judged to be granted an off-campus visit over night, but it must not be in the home of the teenager, where the teenager perhaps will be able to contact family or friends. Six month is minimum. Most are not ready until they have been detained for 9 or 12 months.

Home visit are a part of exit plan for the program and they are therefore encouraged to be put off until late in the program.

Mandatory participation in the 12-step program

They use the 12 step system to battle all problems regardless if the teenager is detained there for substance abuse, alcohol abuse or simply Oppositional defiant disorder.

Consequences

If a teenager does not agree to a certain demand, they are first restrained (both by staff and untrained teenagers senior in the program) and put in the corner for 24 hours [5] [6]. If the teenager refuse to sit down in the corner, they are duck taped or wrapped:

  • 1) To the chair
  • 2) In more severe cases they are duct tape hands and feets and then rolled into a blanket, which is duck-taped so the teenager can not free him or her-self by rolling on the floor.

They also have isolation rooms with cameras in the cellar.

Betton House

They also offered college dormitory for older teenagers, which closed in July 2008. The dormitory offered a less strict environment as the Family Foundation School, but was still outside of social norms for relationships with other teenagers [7] [8].

Before they closed, Keystone College asked Betton college to remove their logo from the Betton House homepage [9]. The same had been done by Marywood University, in addition to Penn State, and nearly all colleges Betton House was "affiliated with" [10].

While in operation they also had problems with the zoning laws [11].

News

In 2004 a 17 year old male detainee fell down from a second story balcony. The death was decleared a suicide after an short investigation because the deceased according to staff had expressed suicidal thoughts [12].

According to local sources about 40 detainees run away every year [13]

October 2009 The Daily Star in Oneonta wrote that 4,000 residents in Delaware County had received a letter describing how conditions at the school is according to a testimony [14]

The facility was also mentioned in a rally for Teen Rights at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza by Trilogy School [15]

An internet based, anti-school campaign has been started online. The campaign has released investigations into potential tax fraud, search dogs chasing runaways, they have collected over 80 testimonials from alumni, alumni parents, and staff, and they vow to continue exposing the abuse until The Family Foundation School admits publicly to their abusive history and closes their doors forever. [16]

See also

External Links

Info Pages

Survivor groups

Message boards

References

  1. The facility on Google maps
  2. Program Data on NATSAP
  3. Admission page on the homepage of the facility.
  4. Communicating with Your Child and the School, from the homepage of the facility
  5. Statement from Brendan Burns on EndInstitutionalAbuse
  6. Statement from Jon Martin-Crawford on EndInstitutionalAbuse
  7. Betton House, a thread on Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY)
  8. Betton House on Flash Earth
  9. Betton House and Keystone College, a thread on the message board of Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY)
  10. Betton House and Marywood University, a thread on the message board of Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY)
  11. Nedco Madison Avenue, LLC v. Lackawanna College and Betton House, LLC v. The Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Scranton v. The Lackawanna Institute and Paul Mansour Appeal of: Nedco Madison Avenue, Lackawanna College, and Betton House, LLC - No. 820 C.D. 2007 - Argued: December 11, 2007
  12. Recent Sad Events at the Family School, press relase published on strugglingteen.com - industry marketing firm
  13. Team Looks for Runaway Teens, by Rita Angiros, Eagle Valley Search Dogs
  14. Letter alleges abuse at Hancock school, By Patricia Breakey, The Daily Star, October 22, 2009
  15. Tales of abduction, lost freedom at teen rights rally, By Andrew Ford, The Gainesville Sun, October 23, 2009
  16. The Family Foundation School Truth Campaign, Official Campaign Website