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2/28/2022 State Representatives visit Glenhaven Academy in hopes of replicating its treatment model in RI
STATE HOUSE – Last week, Representatives Julie Casimiro, Grace Diaz, Thomas Noret and Anastasia Williams, along with a group from the Rhode Island Senate, and other child welfare advocates, traveled to Massachusetts for a site visit at Glenhaven Academy, a residential treatment facility for adolescents. All four Representatives have been staunch advocates for children in state care and have spoken out regarding the state’s need for more services and facilities for children and families served by the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Currently, the state of Rhode Island’s continuum of care for children lacks an appropriate residential treatment facility for girls. Dozens of Rhode Island children in crisis – particularly girls – are being sent to out-of-state facilities due to the state’s shortage of suitable accommodations. In addition to being more costly for the state, this process separates children from their families and community.

 “We are determined to have a facility like Glenhaven in Rhode Island,” said Rep. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), who penned an op-ed decrying the situation with Rhode Island’s ‘lost girls’in November. “It does not make sense to pay more for less appropriate in-state care, or, to be sending kids over an hour away from home. Glenhaven is an incredible facility, but for families in Rhode Island, visiting a child there can be a logistical challenge. Rhode Island can and must do better for our most vulnerable children.”

The Rhode Island contingent met with the director of Glenhaven, as well as other staff, to learn about the organization’s framework and best practices. The goal is to create a similar facility in Rhode Island.

“To see a facility like Glenhaven gives me hope that we can replicate this model in Rhode Island,” said Representative Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), who also chairs Rhode Island’s Legislative Commission on Child Care. “The staff prioritizes diversity and shows each student that they matter. It was very helpful to learn more about Glenhaven’s structure and to see their programming firsthand.”

Last year, Representatives Casimiro, Williams and Noret, along with Representative Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Coventry, Foster, Glocester), in a bipartisan effort called for an audit of the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), outlining problems noted in a House Oversight Committee review of the agency’s operations.

“Glenhaven is exactly the type of facility we need in Rhode Island,” said Rep. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence). “As soon as we walked through the doors, we could immediately tell that this is an incredible place. The entire program is about meeting students where they are at, providing trauma-informed, culturally-sensitive support to help them gain the skills they need to be happy, healthy, and successful individuals.”

“In addition to being a residential educational program, Glenhaven is a treatment facility where everyone – from teachers to care staff – is trained in the same thing. The individualized approach at Glenhaven enables staff to notice patterns or issues a traditional school setting may not be equipped to accommodate; staff proactively works with students to find appropriate treatment and coping mechanisms,” said Rep. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick.). In addition to calling for reforms to DCYF, Rep. Noret and Rep. Casimiro advocated for additional staffing for the agency and called on the administration to move to fill the open positions.

Located in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Glenhaven Academy is a therapeutic residential school for adolescents coping with significant past trauma, mental health issues, educational challenges and/or behavioral difficulties.

For more information, contact:
Emily Martineau, Deputy Director of Communications for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 323
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2466