Playing Berkshire Farms Foster Care Horrors

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August 15, 2007
Allegations of child abuse, medicaid fraud, and altering of staff medical records to defeat a state audit.

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History of Berkshire

Frederick G. Burnham and his wife Catharine had a vision for helping troubled youth in 1886. On 580 acres in Canaan, New York -- purchased from a local Shaker community and originally intended for use as a breeding farm for fine cattle -- the Burnham's created a refuge for what then called “wayward boys”.

The Burnham's believed that a stable, loving environment, contact with nature and emphasis on a strong work ethic could help these boy's overcome their past problems and start them on the road to better lives.

The Burnhams' vision and their personal commitment to making a difference in children's lives led to what is known today as Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, one of New York State's largest and most successful agencies serving troubled children and their families.

The idea that the Farm represented a family, rather than an institution, was a major factor in its success and its powerful influence on the boys' lives. Mrs. Burnham, who is credited with suggesting the initial idea for the Farm to her husband, was the presence behind this idea of family. She got to know the boys well, and often corresponded with them after they had left the Farm and embarked on new lives.

....Berkshire Community Service Worker's now are an integral part of each youth's treatment team. They act as liaisons to the students' families, and also handle intake, aftercare, and outreach to local family courts and social service departments. Nine regional, district and satellite offices also offer a continuum of community-based child welfare and juvenile justice services for girls and boys and their families. These include home and school-based placement, prevention, alternative-to-placement and reunification, foster family programs and group homes. Berkshire also provides secure detention and non-secure detention foster boarding and group care for children awaiting action in court cases.

...As the work of Berkshire evolved, the name of the organization changed as well:

  • 1886-1894 -- Burnham Industrial Farm

  • 1894-1959 -- Berkshire Industrial Farm

  • 1959-1974 -- Berkshire Farm for Boys

  • 1974-present -- Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth.

...Berkshire's Residential Treatment Center in Canaan, NY serves some 600 young men annually from urban, suburban and rural areas throughout New York State. Typically, children in the program have been troubled by behavioral and emotional difficulties, family problems, substance abuse and other issues. Nearly 3,000 boys and girls struggling with similar issues are served each year in Community-Based Programs.

Expanded over the years through donations and purchases of land, Berkshire's Canaan campus now comprises some 2,000 acres. The agency has nine regional and district offices around the state, as well as additional satellite locations.

http://www.berkshirefarm.org/history.aspx

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