By Barrett Seaman–
Irvington-based Abbott House, long known as a refuge for foster care children, unaccompanied minors and others with developmental disabilities, has received official accreditation by CARF International, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The accreditation, which follows two years of rigorous inspection and evaluation, is good for three years and establishes Abbott House as an institution capable of delivering a broad spectrum of services including clinical intervention for mental health. “The accreditation from CARF helps us to be more clinical and more psychologically-minded in our thinking about how to deal with children and their families,” says James L. Kaufman, LCSW-R and CEO of Abbott House. “It also qualifies the state and us for funding under Title 4E, which is part of the Families First Prevention Act,” adds Kaufman. That program works to move children out of residential care more quickly so they can return home, “and it keeps them from being raised in group homes.”
“We’ve taken in children with complex issues for a long time,” says Kaufman. (In the past) “childcare has been for the neglected and abused or have had behavioral issues. The mental health issues are handled in the group homes where the entire view is clinical. I think this is melding the two worlds together under CARF.”
Abbott House operates three group homes—in Mt. Kisco, Swan Lake and White Plains—currently housing 15 children, ages 15-to-21, a number that is down because of COVID. This accreditation opens the door for more clinical services and the funding that is needed to sustain them.
Abbott has been better known in recent years for taking in kids from Central and South America through the Transitional Resources for Children program operated by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. They currently house 51, offering them schooling and health care until they can find permanent homes with relatives around the U.S.
According to a statement issued by Abbott House, “CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served.”
The two-year process was managed internally by Jeff Shapiro, Abbott House’s Vice President of Residential and Group Homes. It was, says James Kaufman, “tough.”