The Jewish Board Responds to Community Concerns about Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Treatment Center

NEW YORK, NY: May 19, 2017 — The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services’ priority is to provide the very best services for the children in our care at The Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Residential Treatment Center. We are also committed to being a responsible neighbor to the residents of Hawthorne. These two goals guide everything that we do, each day.

Hawthorne Cedar Knolls is a haven for kids who have suffered physical and sexual abuse, severe neglect, or the loss of family members and friends — often under horrific circumstances. In this residential setting, The Jewish Board helps them get their lives back on track. In fact, most of the residents of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls meet their treatment goals and are returned to a stable environment in under a year of being in our care.

In response to community concerns, over the past year, we’ve taken many steps to reduce emergency calls to the police and fire departments, and to improve overall campus security. We’ve installed more security cameras and have added more staff and more training for all staff to ensure that they know how to deal with residents who attempt to AWOL (absent without leave) and to provide further engagement opportunities for our kids so they are less inclined to leave.

Additionally, we now have weekly AWOL meetings and have created a new role of Head of Campus Security. We also participate in regular meetings with town officials and residents to make sure that we are being responsive to community concerns.

In light of recent incidents, The Jewish Board has taken further swift and comprehensive corrective measures to address the community’s concerns for the safety and well-being of both our residents and members of the surrounding community. These measures include identifying high-risk traumatized youth who need enhanced support through a comprehensive review of Individual Crisis Management Plans (ICMPs). This has enabled us to identify residents whose primary means of coping is running away or exhibiting poor impulse control.

To better support these high-risk youth and keep them safely on campus, we have modified their treatment plans to include increased supervision, and the possible use of therapeutic restraints when they attempt to leave the campus without consent.

We believe these measures, which factor in the clinical profiles of these traumatized youth, are positive steps towards addressing the concerns for the safety and well-being of the youth in question and the residents of the local community.

We are also posting staff vehicles at the top of the main entrance to the campus to further discourage residents from leaving without consent, and to make it faster for our staff to reach them when they do.

Our comprehensive review of ICMPs confirmed that the overwhelming majority of our youth at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls do not pose any immediate risk to themselves or to the surrounding community. Most of our youth actively participate in the structured therapeutic, educational, vocational and recreational programming provided on campus, and some are even gainfully employed in the surrounding community. These youth travel to work in the community and to their home communities for approved unsupervised visits to family and friends. All return to campus without incident.
Yet, we believe that there is more that we can do.

With the support of the New York state Office of Children and Family Services, we plan to apply for enhanced funding for Hawthorne Cedar Knolls that will allow us to intensify our services, increase staff-to-resident ratios, and enhance our security.

We are also engaging in discussions with the State about our need to have greater input into the teens referred and placed with us.

We are optimistic that if we are given the authority to reject inappropriate placements and can secure more funding, we will be able to reduce occurrences like the incidents of the past several weeks, enabling The Jewish Board to be the good neighbor that we have been for decades.


Alix Friedman
LAK Public Relations, Inc.