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The Future of Kennedy Hope Academy

Yesterday we announced an important decision that will affect the future of the Kennedy Hope Academy (KHA) residential program at Franciscan Hospital for Children.   For more than two decades, KHA has operated as a joint venture between Franciscan and McLean Hospital, serving children and adolescents with severe challenging behaviors, Autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, neurological disorders and concurrent psychiatric illnesses.  For years, we have provided the residential and educational services they need in spite of the many obstacles, financial and otherwise, in doing so.  Over the course of the past year, it has become evident to the leadership team through a strategic planning process that these specialized services require a critical mass and infrastructure that cannot be accommodated at Franciscan Hospital for Children.  To develop a robust and financially sound program, we would need to be able to accommodate a much larger number of students.  While we’re proud of our students’ achievements, we have come to the difficult conclusion that continuing the program in its current state is not sustainable for the hospital.

As a result, we have decided to phase out the Kennedy Hope Academy residential education program.  This program currently serves seven students.  We are committed to working collaboratively with each of the families and school systems affected to ensure transitions happen smoothly and with the least possible impact to the young men and their families.  Discussions with the families affected and their referring school systems have already begun.  A phased approach will allow adequate time for alternate placements to be made in a time frame that supports the needs of the students.  Current KHA staff will be meeting with hospital leadership to consider job transfers and reassignments as appropriate.

While Kennedy Hope Academy in its current form will be phased out, we recognize the continued need for services to children and adolescents on the Autism spectrum.  By reallocating precious resources, we hope to offer future new opportunities that are in demand and beneficial to this important and growing segment.  In the interim, we will continue our commitment to providing support services to children on the Autism spectrum including therapies, day education in the Kennedy Day School, dental services, behavioral health services, outpatient pediatric care and recreational opportunities.

It has been our privilege to serve each of the students who has spent time in the Kennedy Hope Academy program.  Seeing each of them make progress and learn new skills has been rewarding for both the staff and the leadership team at Franciscan.

We thank our many stakeholders and especially the parents we support for your cooperation during the transition.

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