In the greater New York City arena, it is becoming increasingly more challenging for the public school system to meet the needs of students with exceptional issues. Families in the community are struggling to keep afloat economically while trying to raise children in a system under distress. Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY) understands that the faith-based community has an obligation to support these struggling families and to partner with the public systems that work with them. Our agency has a long history of serving challenging populations who at one time or another have experienced periods of crises and instability. Our Refugee Resettlement Program helps recently-arrived Americans become acclimated to their new home and changed lifestyle, while our Foster Care Program assists children who exhibit the most extreme of needs.
With this in mind, LSSNY is rising to the challenge presented by young people identified by the public school system as having emotional disturbances. We provide an opportunity for them to change the direction of the path they are on.
We have intentionally identified the middle school and high school-age populations as our target group, for a number of reasons. These young people are at a deeply impressionable age, and because they truly desire an education and hunger for someone to understand them, there is a greater chance for success in turning around their academic careers. In fact, the long-term goal for the middle school-age students is to be mainstreamed back into a standard classroom environment for high school, while the goal for our high school students is to complete their education and graduate.
The New LIFE School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and and ethnic rights or the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and athletic and other school-administered programs.
Additionally, we are familiar with the causes and consequences of unstable emotional levels of young people during the teenage years, as puberty sets in and hormones rage. Our expertise in this area helps students perceive that we “get it”-and that is a tremendous asset in helping them gain a better understanding of themselves and how their behavior and emotions impact those around them.
The New LIFE School seeks to provide a continuum of care for the students, which includes: addressing their academic needs (bringing them up to New York State standards, where necessary); helping them better manage their psycho-social issues; working with their families of origin to encourage progress towards their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals in the home; assisting with each student’s various stages of transition; and offering follow-up services if able to reintegrate back into the public school system. We seek to enable them to reach their full potential by developing tools for success, both in their academic learning and in their personal lives. We do this by creating the least restrictive environment possible and focusing on the ideology that “a child never fails, the system fails.” We do not intend for our system to fail. We are tasked with a special gift, that of promoting the success of a child in our care (which is keeping with our agency’s mission statement: “…enabling people to reach their full potential”). We are proud to work with the New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education in creating successful pathways for these young people to reach their highest goals in education and for the rest of their lives.