On February 25 Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology announced Waterford Country School as
the first organization to ever achieve certification as a “CARE Agency.” CARE Agency certification is a recognition of fidelity and quality practice to an evidence based treatment model for children with special needs.
Waterford Country School adopted Cornell’s CARE Model in 2009, which requires the ongoing training of every employee, whether they are a teacher, maintenance worker or an administrative. The School has watched the climate and the culture change since CARE’s inception and impact not only students but staff in a very positive way. In the years since the CARE Model’s inception, WCS has seen a measurable change in many areas including a decrease in youth aggression, a decrease in psychotropic medication use and an increase in staff longevity. The CARE Model asks the employees to focus every interaction with children on these 6 core principles: Relationship-based, Developmentally focused, Trauma informed, Competence centered, Family involved, and Ecologically oriented. There is no punitive or reward system at WCS, a common practice in residential care settings for behaviorally challenged youth. Instead the CARE principles are applied with the understanding that children can heal and find success when strong adult to child relationships are leveraged with the right understanding around trauma, family bonds and the child’s own personal strengths.
In the last few years, Waterford Country School has become more vocal about the impact of the CARE Model on children and families. Executive Director, Bill Martin and
School Principal, Sharon Butcher have given presentations at conferences around the world and WCS has hosted many other agencies at the Quaker Hill campus so they can see CARE in action.
Martha Holden, Director of the Residential Child Care Project at Cornell University and the author of CARE: Children and Residential Experiences, Creating Conditions for Change has worked closely with Waterford Country School throughout this process. She remarked, “Waterford Country School has been an integral partner in the on-going development of the CARE Model. Professionals from all over the world have visited WCS to learn more about how an organization can implement and embed an evidence-based program model that focuses on relationships and builds on the strengths of children, families and staff. WCS has been an inspiration to other organizations that have taken up this challenge.”
Executive Director, Bill Martin remarked, “There is no greater recognition we could hope to receive. This certification acknowledges how passionate we are about the quality of our work with children and families. ”