1946 - Cardinal McCloskey Home & School Founded
With the end of World War II, thousands of rural poor, immigrants and refugees flooded New York City seeking a new life. But, many who sought prosperity found themselves unemployed and in need of assistance. Although this scenario would eventually give birth to a new era, one of the long-lasting effects would be the displacement of thousands of children. In unprecedented numbers, abandoned, neglected and homeless children became the helpless victims of this reordering of society.
In 1946, recognizing there was an overwhelming need to care for these children, Cardinal Spellman of the NY Archdiocese reached out to the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill and asked them to administer and staff a home for children. He named the institution as a memorial tribute to the United States' first Cardinal, John Cardinal McCloskey who is remembered for his apostolate on behalf of needy children as well as for directing the construction of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
The Cardinal McCloskey School and Home for Children, often locally referred to as the "White Plains Orphanage," provided safe shelter and education for 240 children at any given time. Children ranged from ages 2 to 9 years and came from New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area.
Like the typical institution of its era, it provided for the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and a replacement for the traditional family unit. As society changed, the needs of maltreated young people changed and new programs were developed throughout the 1960s and 1970s. A foster boarding home program was developed; residential group homes for teenagers were opened; adoption services and youth development programs were introduced and a day care program started. With the success of the foster boarding home program, there were so few children still living in the institution that it closed in 1980. In the mid-1980s, CMCS became one of New York City’s first agencies to provide preventive services to at-risk families in response to the hundreds of abused and neglected children that were coming into foster care from backgrounds tainted with drugs, homelessness, neglect and extreme deprivation. In fulfillment of our mission to support families, the program provided intensive social services to keep families safely together while overcoming their dysfunctions and working toward breaking the cycles of family violence. The program’s success led many other organizations to implement similar programs. Today, the number of children in foster care has been significantly reduced because of preventive services programs like ours.
When the 1990’s arrived, CMCS again led the way, recognizing the need for specialized foster care for children with severe emotional or behavioral disorders and becoming one of the first agencies to provide therapeutic foster care. Today, our Treatment Family Foster Care (TFFC) Program is the second largest of its kind in New York City. Later in the decade, CMCS diversified services by opening group homes and a day habilitation program for teens and adults with developmental disabilities. In 2001, CMCS began to provide services to those with a history of emotional difficulties, opening a special residence for individuals dually diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and emotional difficulties. In 2002, CMCS established a family-based therapeutic care program for children with emotional difficulties.
While maintaining the highest standards of excellence, the breadth of programming offered by CMCS is continually expanding to meet the constantly changing needs of the populations we serve. In 2008, CMCS implemented our Bridges to Health (B2H) Program, and in turn, became authorized as a Health Care Integration Agency. B2H is a state initiative designed to tailor comprehensive care plans for children in foster care with serious emotional disturbances, developmental disabilities, and medical frailties. Studies show that more than half of the children in foster care have one or more mental health disorders (i.e. post-traumatic stress disorder), developmental delays and at least one chronic medical condition. Our B2H program is designed specifically for these vulnerable children. This revolutionary program offers 14 additional services in these key areas aimed at improving their quality of life until they are 21 years old. B2H is the only program of its kind in the United States and Cardinal McCloskey Community Services is one of only five agencies to be chosen by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to participate in this program.
In April 2009, CMCS again expanded when we welcomed the Little Angels Head Start Program, which aims to improve the lives of low income children and families by providing exceptional preschool education to three and four year-olds. The goal of the program is to improve the lives of low income children and families by providing exceptional preschool education in half day, full day and extended day sessions. Children receive educational, health and nutrition services in a classroom setting. The program also offers support services to parents to enable them to help their children thrive in school.
In 2010, CMCS was selected to participate in a New York State initiative implementing the Sanctuary Model. The Sanctuary Model is a treatment and organizational change model, that integrates trauma theory, with the creation of therapeutic communities which provide safety for both children and staff who work with them. Sanctuary training provides the basis for enhancing how we serve the children in residential services by taking advantage of what we know about human nature, healing from injury, the power of communities and the chaotic nature of change. Currently, we are in the process of ensuring that every single person at CMCS undergoes Sanctuary Model Training so that we can fully integrate the methodology into the operation of all of our children’s services programs.
In October of 2011, we welcomed a new Individual Residential Alternative (IRA) Group Home to our family, an addition which will continue to broaden our services offered for people with developmental disabilities. Located in Ossining, NY, the residence is home to four young adults with Autism, two young men and two young women, who have recently aged out of residential schools. Since the home opened, CMCS has been working to implement an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) model of operation for this residence. The home is staffed by professionals who have specialized skills that allow them to understand the impact of environment and external stimuli on the behavior of the individuals who live in the home. The use of the ABA model in this setting is the first of its kind, and its success thus provides optimism about the potential to replicate it. Our goal is that this program might serve as a model for other agencies to provide even more residential options for people with autism.
In 2012 we began the transition of our Head Start, Family Day Care, and Group Day Care Programs to an “EarlyLearn” model of service provision, whereby all of our childhood services will be based upon Head Start regulations and guidelines. EarlyLearn New York City is a city-wide effort that recognizes that early childhood programs play a critical role in supporting young children’s development and learning, and in preparing children for both school and life success. EarlyLearn programs foster children’s healthy and positive cognitive, physical, social and emotional development through adherence to high standards that give every child the tools they need to succeed and meet his or her full potential.
During our nearly 70 years of service, CMCS has continually developed, implemented, expanded and enhanced programs to provide a continuum of care for children and families in need. Cardinal McCloskey’s reputation, demonstrated programmatic successes and prudent fiscal management have, on several occasions, led New York City and the Archdiocese of New York to ask CMCS to take over failing programs of other social service agencies. Accomplishments include: being consistently ranked as one of New York City’s “Top 10” foster care agencies; winning awards for “Outstanding Achievements” in adoption services for more than 20 consecutive years; annually having several staff members win “Best Practice” awards from New York State and “local hero” awards from community groups; as well as having staff members serve as adjunct professors and instructors at local colleges and being elected as officers to local and regional industry organizations. Since its inception, CMCS has been a leader in caring for New York neediest populations while demonstrating an outstanding ability to steadily meet society’s changing service needs and simultaneously maintaining fiscal stability and we look forward to continuing this history of success long into the future.