Mount Saint Vincent has cared for children and their families since 1883. It was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas as an orphanage, at one time housing nearly 300 children.
As social philosophy moved away from orphanages, foster care services were designed to provide a family home for each child. However, for some children, a residential facility was preferable, if it had trained staff and could better address medical and behavioral needs than could be provided in a family home. Just as the Sisters stepped up to become a home for boys in 1909, they stepped up again in 1969 training their own Sisters through advanced degrees in social work and hiring the best staff to care for children with severe emotional and behavioral challenges due to trauma, mental illness, abuse, or neglect.
As a result of the 2006 loss of Medicaid funding for the residential care for children with mental health issues, the dynamics of the child population at Mount Saint Vincent changed. Today, children with the most severe mental health challenges are referred to the residential program. With more severe and complex diagnoses, the residential program is now one step below a psychiatric hospital. Children with less severe challenges attend the day treatment program.
In 2009, Mount Saint Vincent took another big step by adopting the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, a developmentally sensitive approach to trauma treatment. This intuitive approach expands on innate human instincts and skills, including rhythmic and relational activities like rocking, soothing, and praising children. These actions are simple to do, but have profound impacts on brain development. As the children begin to feel comfortable in a safe and stable environment, they can begin to develop social skills and learn impulse control, eventually integrating back into society.
The NMT model was developed by Dr. Bruce Perry, an international authority on children in crisis. He is the founder of The ChildTrauma Academy, a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of high-risk children through direct service, research and education. The ChildTrauma Academy granted its Flagship status to Mount Saint Vincent in July of 2012, at the time making it the fourth treatment facility in the world to earn the distinction.
Today, Mount Saint Vincent’s programs also include foster care, in-home therapy, community training, and individualized assessments. As always, the organization remains committed to serving the needs of children and families.