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Finding the right residential treatment program for a child with special needs can be a difficult and confusing process for the child and family members. But at St. Christopher’s, we take the pain out of placement by helping families stay laser-focused on doing what is right for their child and getting the services they need.

The following are the most frequently asked questions we receive concerning admissions. For further information, please contact Vivian Ossowski, Assistant Executive Director of Admissions & Health Services, at vossowski@sc1881.orgThank you for considering St. Christopher's. 

  • What is St. Christopher's criteria for admission?

    St. Christopher’s Residential Treatment Center in North Castle, New York is a Hard to Place program for children and youth, ages 12-21. They arrive here after having been unsuccessful in a broad range of less restrictive settings, including a variety of special education programs, day treatment programs, and other outpatient type milieus. Approximately 89 percent of these adolescents are referred to us by School Districts’ Committees on Special Education.

    Typically, their behavior in the community has been problematic for others and themselves, requiring placement into a facility offering 24-hour supervision and multiple services that cannot be provided in their home community school districts. Some have comorbid developmental disabilities, while all have moderate to severe psychiatric and behavioral difficulties and diagnoses that vary and include: schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; depressive disorders; intellectual disability; intermittent explosive disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder; attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; conduct disorder; personality disorder; and autism spectrum disorder. Many have been victims of childhood trauma, including physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse.

    Referrals for placement at St. Christopher's for youth ages 12-21 in grades 7-12 can be made through School Districts' Committees on Special Education and State Departments of Social Services.* Residential program costs are covered by the child’s home school district.

    *Please note St. Christopher's does not accept youth with a history of behaviors that put other people's safety at risk.

  • What are some common attributes of children and young people placed at St. Christopher’s?

    Each child or young person is different, but the majority of our residents experience one or more of the following attributes: struggling with anxiety, depression or school refusal; fragile, guarded, or withdrawn; lacking self-esteem, motivation, or social skills; depressed or bipolar; and/or struggling with relationship or identity issues. Some are overwhelmed by the social and emotional pressures of school, family, and peer connectedness, while others have struggled with the development and maintenance of effective emotional regulation skills. Almost all of our youth have experienced some form of trauma.

  • What are the steps in the placement process?

    The first step is the determination—typically by the School District’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) or the Department of Social Services (DSS)—that the student requires placement in a therapeutic residential program. Referral (information) packets are then sent to approved residential treatment centers, including St. Christopher's.

    Upon receipt, we begin a thorough review of the packet—which contains the student’s psychological, psychiatric, educational, medical, family and social/emotional histories—to assess whether or not placement at St. Christopher's would support the individual social, emotional, behavioral and educational needs of the student. If we determine St. Christopher's is a potentially good fit, we invite the student and family for an interview and tour of our campus. If all parties agree that placement here will support and enrich the student, our Admissions Team collects all necessary documentation and schedules a date of admission. And our work to help the student reach their full potential begins.

    *Referral packets should be sent to Vivian Ossowski, Assistant Executive Director, at or mailed to: Admissions Department, St. Christopher’s, Inc., 71 S. Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522.

  • Whom should I contact if I have additional questions about the admissions process and St. Christopher’s?

    To learn more, please contact Vivian Ossowski, Assistant Executive Director of Admissions and Health Services, at