Juvenile Justice

"They kept my child from going upstate because that’s where she was headed. They brought me and my child a lot closer. "

-Parent whose child was enrolled in our KEYS program

The Foundling is playing a leadership role in re-making New York’s broken juvenile justice system, which for years has been spending enormous sums of money on tactics that don’t work and producing outcomes that are appalling. Rather than spending $200,000 per year to house a juvenile offender in a residential facility 200 miles from home – with 80% of those juveniles being rearrested within 36 months of their release – we are working with the city and state on programs that produce better outcomes for the juvenile offenders, for the community and for taxpayers.

The Foundling has now served hundreds of young people who have been diverted to our programs rather than being sent “upstate.” Through our evidence-based programs, which stress accountability and verifiable, replicable results, we are already making a significant difference, with dramatically reduced recidivism rates and dramatically lower costs.

Whether the program targets troubled youth before they enter the justice system or adjudicated juveniles in need of rehabilitation, all of our Juvenile Justice Initiatives share the philosophy that a child’s behavioral and criminal problems must be addressed with a comprehensive approach involving their families and communities.


Our Five Juvenile Justice Programs:

Blue Sky

Our first ever alternative to incarceration program, Blue Sky employs research supported intervention strategies to treat young offenders while they remain at home and in the community. By working with youth and their families using proven methods that focus on family relationship building and parent empowerment, we have been able to dramatically reduce their re-arrest rates at a fraction of the cost of incarceration ($225,000 per year). New York City officials are so impressed with the promise of the program that, for the first time in over 30 years in the area of juvenile justice, they have authorized a clinical trial in order to fully determine its efficacy.

  • 12 months after their release, Blue Sky participants have only a 13% felony re-arrest rate, compared to 46% for juveniles served in state institutions


Funded by The Robin Hood Foundation, ARROW is an alternative to incarceration program that serves adolescents whose court involvement is a direct result of their having significant psychiatric impairment. Using an empirically based psychiatric therapy model, the program assists all family members in gaining a better understanding of the triggers of the adolescents’ behavior. Emphasis is placed on equipping parents with the skills necessary to more effectively relate to their troubled child.

  • Currently serves 31 families

Kids Experiencing Young Successes (KEYS)

KEYS is a community and family based intervention that focuses on adolescents whose behavior puts them at very high risk of formal court involvement. By using family intervention strategies that target those risk factors known to predict criminal behavior, this program helps to build a pro-social support system around the youth so that his/her delinquent behavior does not escalate.

  • Served over 500 youth since the program began

Families Rising

Funded by the Pinkerton Foundation and implemented in conjunction with Judge Michael Corriero’s New York Center for Justice, Families Rising keeps older adolescents charged with a crime out of detention, and at home, while their case is being processed through criminal court. With a specific focus on family based services, the program emphasizes interpersonal skills development and personal responsibility. As a result of their active participation in the program, these offenders often receive a more favorable court disposition and are not burdened with a criminal record that follows them through life.

  • Currently serves 50 families

Way Home

Our Way Home program works with adolescent offenders whose families are reluctant to have them return home while their case is being processed in family court. The program simultaneously works with the offender and his/her parents or other adult guardians in an effort to convince all parties that it is in everyone’s best interest to identify ways in which appropriate family relationships can be more productively established and maintained. The Way Home program works with parents and youth in a family therapy model designed to build bridges and result in a safer, more effective and more secure family environment.

  • Currently serves 44 families

Success Stories

A Way Home Success:

Ernesto is a sixteen year-old with multiple arrests in his past, as well as a history of family violence and abuse. After his most recent arrest, Ernesto was released to his grandmother’s care and family therapy began with The Foundling's Way Home program.

During the course of therapy, Ernesto shared that he’d been assaulted at home and engaged in delinquent behavior to escape his trauma. Through the therapy process, which included his grandmother, Ernesto began to gain confidence that his grandmother did indeed care for him and wanted to provide for him. He began abiding the rules of her house, including a curfew she set.

Way Home and The Foundling assisted Ernesto in getting a Summer Youth Employment placement at the Parks Department. He has joined the swim team at his new school and his grades have improved. Today, he is on the path to graduation and pursuit of college or full-time employment.


"Our therapist helped me to understand my child. I love our therapist; she’s the best thing that came into our lives."