Residential School at Dobbs Ferry

A Second Chance for At-Risk Youth

The Children’s Village residential school engages at-risk boys aged 6 to 20 in an enriched and structured program aimed at preparing them to be successful members of their families and communities. It focuses on teaching pro-social behavior and fosters a love of learning, the acquisition of career-oriented job skills, and the development of leisure interests and skills that will foster life-long emotional and physical health and well being.

The school is staffed 24/7 with professionals experienced in helping children and youth deal with anger, feelings of loss, and educational failure. Located on a 180-acre campus just 35 minutes from New York City, Children’s Village provides extensive recreational, vocational, and educational facilities in a quiet, natural setting.

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Residential Life

The residential program helps youth learn how to be active and contributing members of their community. The Children’s Village campus consists of 12 residential cottages set on a sprawling hilltop surrounded by fields and woodlands. Each cottage, which houses 9 to 16 residents, mostly in two or three-person rooms, provides a comfortable and communal environment:

  • Living room for relaxation
  • Dining room where residents eat together
  • Recreation area equipped with such things as ping pong tables, pool tables, fitness equipment, etc.
  • Computers for games or homework
  • Bookcases full of leisure books

Each cottage has its own character, reflecting the interests of staff and residents: some have vegetable or flower gardens, some have pet fish or gerbils, others are filled with photographs, artwork, or indoor plants.

An important part of life at CV is a structure that helps residents feel safe. Rules are clear, so residents know what is expected of them and understand consequences. Residents earn privileges such as a later bedtime or special treats or activities through good behavior and participation in the cottage community. All residents do chores before school and participate in community meetings to talk about house rules and resolve differences among the boys.

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Many students who come to The Children’s Village have failed repeatedly in school. They may have learning difficulties their community school is not equipped to deal with, severe behavioral problems that frustrate and overwhelm the student, or problems in their family or living situations that cause them to miss a great deal of school. We have successfully turned what other schools consider problem students into achievers.

Graduation rates are high and scholarships for college or technical schools are available through The Children’s Village.

When younger students are ready to return to the community, we help students find the best possible school placement, one that understands their special needs.

Our K- 12 school, Greenburgh Eleven, is a fully accredited New York State public school district. No classroom has more than 12 students, and some have as few as 6. Students learn from highly qualified teachers, most with Master’s degrees in special education and experience with learning difficulties and behavioral and emotional problems. All students are grounded in basic skills and are taught the New York State curriculum in Mathematics, English and Science.

Many of our students excel in art, band and chorus and the school musicals, concerts and art shows are popular with students, parents and staff.

“All I have ever heard were the problems that [my son] had, but never any solutions. Greenburgh Eleven has literally transformed him to a place where he feels good about himself and his accomplishments.”  – Parent

“My favorite subjects are math, home and career, and industrial arts. In my other school, I failed my tests. But here, the teachers help me to do well and I have passed my tests.” – C.J. High School Student

Success in academics is regularly celebrated through quarterly honor roll breakfasts, academic banquets, senior dinners and special gifts and medals for achievement.
When the school day ends at CV, learning does not stop:

      • Trained educators provide one-on-one and group tutoring and enrichment to students during after-school hours;
      • Students take trips to museums, plays, musical events, and nature centers;
      • Juniors and seniors visit colleges and trade schools to learn what possibilities are available;
Assistance Dog Training

A very special program at CV, and one of the most popular among the boys, is the Assistance Dog Training Program. This is a collaboration with East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD), who provides the dogs and the expertise in dog training. Students train special service dogs to help children and adults with physical handicaps. Boys can participate in school as a career and technical education course and/or after school as part of a paid work experience. This program gives the troubled youngsters who live at CV the opportunity to experience the unconditional love of a dog and at the same time to help others who are less fortunate than themselves.

Learn more about The Assistance Dog Training Program here.

Open Door

Open Door is a literacy initiative founded in 1998 to provide books for the children at CV and to nurture their love of reading. On our Dobbs Ferry campus, volunteers run a library program in the elementary, middle, and high schools; visit the cottages weekly to bring books and read; and help in our beautiful Open Door Library after school.

To read more about Open Door and to get to involved click here.
Admissions to the Day School: Greenburgh Eleven

The Greenburgh Eleven U.F.S.D. is a special act district that provides education for children residing at the Children’s Village Dobbs ferry campus. The school also admits day students who can benefit from the specialized instruction the school provides. For more information, contact 914-693-8500 x384.

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NSP Program

NYC’s Close to Home program allows teens who have been involved in criminal behavior to live in non-secure placement (NSP) residential sites near their homes. Children’s Village supports the Close to Home initiative and is one of 11 nonprofits that work with Close to Home. CV has an all-boys NSP residential site on the Dobbs Ferry campus and an all-girls NSP residential site in Staten Island.

Erlyn, Mitsu and Kirin

CV’s Close to Home program seeks to provide young people with the following:
• programs that recognize and build on their strengths
• individualized schooling, and all credits earned will count towards their high school diploma
• the ability to meet with their families frequently
• individualized clinical services
• plan for their futures when they leave our care
• support after leaving placement

To be placed into CV’s NSP cottages, a child is first determined by the New York City Family Court to have participated in criminal behavior and is then matched to CV’s NSP program. CV focuses on youth with special needs/problems such as substance abuse or serious emotional disturbance.Patricia Perez

The youth stay at CV for seven months. While there, youth receive schooling, therapy, skills training,  health care, recreation, work skills training, and much more. Before youth leave placement, they are enrolled in community-based school programs and have plans in place for aftercare services.

For more information about CV’s NSP program, please contact Admissions.

Read a special report by the Alliance for Children and Families and the Annie E. Casey Foundation on realizing permanency through engaging with families click here.

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Psychological and Emotional Support

The goal of our clinical program is to help children improve their emotional health, to raise their self esteem, and to help them put behind them problems and issues that have become barriers to their happiness and success.

Professional Support

The Children’s Village has one of the largest and most highly trained team of professionals of any residential school in the nation. These psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers are equipped to provide serious help for serious problems. All staff are trained in and practice PBIS [Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support], a national model of care used across the country that has proven to help kids build self esteem, develop positive relationships, and improve social and academic confidence and skills.

Formal Counseling

All children at CV meet weekly with their social workers to discuss progress, to set goals and discuss problems they may be having. Students may also meet one-on-one with a psychologist or psychiatrist, be part of our pet therapy program, or participate in one of our special group programs. These include groups that teach anger management, meditation and relaxation techniques or discussions for children who are having difficulty coping with:

  • loss of a parent or loved one;
  • premature fatherhood;
  • substance abuse problems; or
  • an incarcerated parent.

Many children come to us on psychotropic medication. We reduce medication whenever possible and manage each child’s behavior with the least amount of medication possible, while keeping him happy and functioning at his highest potential. Many return home medication free or on far less medication than when they arrived.


Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, originally designed for use in school districts, is a national model that helps teachers and staff work with students’ strengths to achieve a safe, positive environment. PBIS organizes adults and children to create a social culture in which the environment encourages positive behavior interactions while discouraging problem behaviors. This social culture provides a safer environment for children where they can build self-esteem, develop positive relationships with peers and adults, and improve their social and academic abilities. The foundation of this approach emphasizes that teaching children appropriate behaviors through modeling will result in youth adopting them. Staff remind youth to use appropriate behavior, acknowledging them when they do and correcting them when they do not.

The essential principles that PBIS is built on are the use of effective practices which include:

  • The definition of clear and concise behavioral expectations;
  • Teaching of expected behaviors;
  • Reminding on a daily basis through supervision;
  • Celebrating when expected behaviors are displayed;
  • Providing consistent correction for inappropriate behaviors.

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Medical care is provided in our state-of-the-art Health Services Clinic named in honor of Keith Haring, who was a volunteer at CV and provided a legacy gift to construct this beautiful facility,

This center is staffed by a full-time pediatrician, a nurse practitioner, and a team of registered nurses and aides. A sports medicine specialist visits regularly. The clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for routine care as well as referrals to specialists. A hospital is located less than a mile from The Children’s Village campus. Dental care is also provided on site and many children delight in sporting braces. All children receive annual physicals and vision screening.


A key focus of our medical program is fitness and good nutrition, especially for the large number of youth who come to us who are overweight. All youth are encouraged to participate in fitness training and active sports and there are ample programs and facilities available throughout the campus.

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The Children’s Village comprehensive and inclusive athletics program teaches lifelong lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and the importance of physical fitness. CV competes in the New York State Public High School Class C Basketball League as well as in interagency leagues in softball, soccer, flag football and track.

Click here to see our basketball stats on

But competition is not the primary focus of our program. The goal is for children to try activities that may be unfamiliar to them and to develop a lifelong interest, even passion, for healthy fitness activities. With an emphasis on safety, skill development and self esteem, CV residents are involved in:

      • Camping in nearby Catskill mountains,
      • Kayaking on the Hudson River,
      • Snowboarding at various ski hills nearby,
      • roller blading throughout our rolling hills,
      • mountain biking, hiking and cross country skiing on our wooded trails,
      • swim instruction in our indoor pool,
      • team building on our high and low ropes courses.
Lanza Activities Center

Through the generous support of CV Friends, CV has completed the building a large, state-of-the art Lanza Activities Center that features an indoor pool, a modern weight training room, a cybercafe, a sports center, recreation rooms for chess clubs, art, music and much more.

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WAY Works Program

WAY is a unique program designed to turn teens into workers with real career skills and aspirations. The program’s main focus is on work ethics and attitude, helping youth to think of themselves as a person who works with a real understanding of an employer’s right to a full day’s work for a day’s pay.

On our campus, the program offers workshops and paid work experiences such as:

The Hawk’s Nest Cafe

The Cafe is staffed by short-order cooks, who learn to cook healthy snacks as well as complete meals for sale to students, parents and staff..

The Village Greenhouse

WAY’s greenhouse grows vegetables and flowers year round for sale to staff and, in some cases, outside groups. Youth employees learn how to grow and take care of plants, rudimentary landscaping skills, and marketing under the direction of a master gardener.

The Barber Shop

Youth cut hair under the direction of a master barber.

Kennel Management

Before and after school, students feed and exercise the dogs in the Assistance Dog Training Program and clean the facility.

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Spiritual Life

The Chapel of All Faiths on the campus of The Children’s Village serves as the hub of a multi-denominational spiritual life program that respects and serves the culture and spiritual needs of all residents. Its purpose is to help each child find spiritual guidance in his own way, on his own terms.

The program includes:

      • Weekly religious services for Catholics and Protestants;
      • Wednesday morning Bible Study;
      • Activities and speakers throughout the year;
      • Week and weekend trips to Young Life Camp in the mountains;
      • One-to-one spiritual counseling;
      • Catholic instruction, sacramental program and youth retreats.Youth of all religions are served, utilizing volunteer groups from the community when available.

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Help For Families

The goal of CV’s residential programs is to return a healthy child to a healthy family in the shortest possible time. To that end, CV works in partnership with families to ensure that the child is ready to come home, that the home is safe and supportive, and that all members of the family are prepared for the challenges of reunification. While the child almost always looks forward to returning home, the transition from the structured, emotionally safe residential school to his home and peers can be difficult. Our professionals help family members prepare to make that critical transition successful and we provide up to one year of aftercare support to help the family adjust.

Programs offered to families include Family Leadership Initiative, Workshops, and the Family Support Program.

Family Leadership Initiative

The Family Leadership Initiative is designed to get children home to birth parents quickly and safely by involving parents in the process in a meaningful way.

Help for Birth Parents

Birth parents who have had children removed from their homes are often going through horrendous family and personal crises. They may be homeless, drug addicted, or even victims of violence themselves. Most have deep feelings of anger, are confused about their rights, and harbor distrust towards the foster care system that took their children away. They often face bureaucratic barriers and barriers due to language, education, and cultural assumptions. Often, they are simply poor and overwhelmed by the struggle to survive. To regain custody of their children, they must navigate a system that has deemed them to be unfit for parenthood.

In many cases these parents have made mistakes and must make changes in order to care for their children safely. But often the system fails to provide the support that will help families reunite. In order to turn their lives around, birth parents need many supports, including parenting skills, faster access to substance abuse treatment, financial assistance to overcome practical barriers to bringing children home, knowledge about their rights, and connections to peers who are facing similar problems.

Parent Advocates

The Family Leadership Initiative is led by Parent Advocates who at one time were in a position similar to that of the parents.. Our Parent Advocates can relate to their concerns, understand the inner workings of the system, and have access to people who can effect change. The Parent Advocates are part of the treatment team and they work closely with birth parents, providing a voice for them and guiding them in accomplishing each of the steps they need to take in their quest for reunification with their children.

Help for Families: Workshops

CV offers a series of workshops designed to help parents care for their child three times a week in either the Dobbs Ferry or Manhattan locations, with both English and Spanish discussions available. Topics include stress management, school issues, discipline, and separation/reunification and the Thursday and Friday programs on the CV campus includes a morning workshop, parent/son lunch, and an afternoon parent support program.

Workshops use a curriculum called Common Sense Parenting, which is fun and interactive, involving role playing, practice and involvement from the group. Parents who complete the full series of workshops may receive a free refurbished computer for their home.

Help For Families: Family Support System

The family support program works directly with parents in their own home. The family support worker reinforces lessons learned in the parent education workshops and works with parents on their parenting style, how to set limits and curfews, and how to make better decisions about their children.

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The Children's Village