Partnership with the New York Foundling
Our school design includes a close partnership with one of the City’s largest social service providers, The New York Foundling. The New York Foundling is a not-for-profit voluntary childcare agency serving the five boroughs of New York City, Rockland County, Westchester County and Puerto Rico. Since 1869, The Foundling has been saving children, preserving families and building communities through a diverse network of more than 40 programs.
It is our vision that by designing a school that addresses the barriers children in the child welfare system face by providing a full range of family support services, children will be better prepared to achieve success in school. Mott Haven Academy Charter School is the first in the nation specifically designed to meet their needs, and can, we believe, be a model for other such schools nationwide.
Recognizing that education and child welfare generally operate in separate silos, child welfare and educational professionals often speak of greater integration between the systems being the first step in addressing the needs of this special population. But it has been difficult here in New York City, given the size of both the child welfare population and the public education system. Haven Academy goes beyond existing efforts to promote information sharing to address the special academic needs of the child welfare population. School staff are able to improve foster children’s academic experience by engaging in professional development training on how the child welfare system operates, the specific demands it makes on children and families, and its consequences for a child’s development. Staff members are trained to recognize, interpret, and understand behaviors in the context of the child’s life experience and the effect this has on their emotional development and behavior. Our school culture values each child’s family situation while providing structure and stability which enhances the children’s ability to learn.
The entire design of Haven Academy was intentionally planned to address the needs exhibited by students with a history of child welfare involvement. We researched ways to create trauma-sensitive environments that go beyond current systems and structures in place. Our goal was to create a school that takes into account the impact of abuse and neglect on a child’s readiness to learn. At the same time, features of this learning environment are supportive and attractive to families with no child welfare involvement.
To learn more about The New York Foundling, please visit their website www.nyfoundling.org.