The environments we provide for our clients and our staff can either increase the effectiveness of our work, or make it more difficult to create the kinds of impacts we want for our kids and families.
When Astor was fortunate to move one of its school programs to the vacant Mt. Carmel School, the impact on the program was immediate and significant. The kids and staff no longer had to share space with other, often incompatible programs.
They had for the first time, “their own school.” The pride the staff felt in their new space was apparent. The kids and families also felt that the school enhanced their self-esteem as opposed to increasing the stigma that often accompanied being placed in a special education program for those with emotional and behavioral challenges.
With this new understanding and appreciation of the value of quality space, Astor’s Board of Directors made a commitment to improve those environments that have been judged to be inadequate.
One of the first opportunities to put this commitment into practice was the approval to build a new building for those children served by the Residential Treatment Facility (RTF).
Despite the difficult times and the uncertain future, the Board, with the support from the New York State Office of Mental Health, agreed to take on the commitment for the $8.5 million loan needed to construct new living quarters for the children in this program.
In less than twelve months the RTF project went from an idea that everyone agreed was necessary to provide the care and treatment that our kids needed and deserved, to an almost completed building of 18,000 square feet of space that will provide the kids with single bedrooms, offices on the units, plenty of activity space, rooms for quiet and comfort and a design that minimizes obstacles that prevent staff from providing the adequate supervision required in their work.
With the project scheduled for completion by the end of summer, the buzz around the possibilities is infectious.
The work is going on at a feverous pace; as is the planning by staff as they begin to think about the practical possibilities for improved care and treatment. This is a critical need for our children, families and staff and I am so delighted we are able to provide this new and improved space for them!
Photos © 2012 Joel Weisbrod & jwArtWorks Photography