Archive | April 2015

Hillcrest Instructors to Become Certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) for Families

Over four years ago Hillcrest Educational Centers (HEC) embraced Cornell University’s Therapeutic  Crisis Intervention (TCI) as its crisis prevention and intervention model.  Since that time, instructors certified in TCI have additionally been certified in the companion courses of TCI for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and TCI Post Crisis Response.  Hillcrest Educational Centers is pleased to announce that this spring instructors will obtain yet another TCI certification, TCI for Families.

TCI for Families is a course designed for parents, guardians, and caregivers of challenging children that trains them in how to prevent and de-escalate a potential behavioral crisis.  Once certified, Hillcrest Educational Centers TCI instructors will be able to deliver course content to parents, guardians, and caregivers that will help them to avoid power struggles with their children and help them to teach their children to manage feelings like anger and frustration.

We recognize the key role that parents, guardians, and caregivers play in the lives of their children.  TCI for Families course offerings will enable HEC to provide additional support to those individuals through learning opportunities aimed at improving treatment progress and enhancing the skill development of children receiving services at HEC.

Caring Together Initiative

Caring Together Hillcrest has a long history of supporting families throughout their children’s stays at our treatment centers.  In recent years, we have endeavored to utilize the principles of a national initiative known as “Building Bridges” ( to make youth guided, family driven services an even larger focus of our treatment.

Utilizing the Building Bridges principles, we have added “Family Specialists” who work directly with families, providing in-home and campus based skill coaching and advocacy services to support family reunification.  We provide travel support to families via bus and train tickets, hotel rooms and gas cards.  We also host monthly “Family Strong” events at the campuses.  These events include:  (1) parent advisory meetings in which families give us feedback and suggestions about our policies and interventions; (2) fun, family events that strengthen family connections and build positive memories; and (3)  peer-based support for families  experiencing similar life experiences.

building bridgesThese practices have also aided us as we have taken on a new treatment contract for Massachusetts youth this past year.  This contract, known as “Caring Together” focuses on providing comprehensive services for youth and families in their local community with one treatment team that follows them through all levels of care.  One particularly exciting part of this program is the ability to provide after care services.  As local youth return home, we will continue to provide clinical services and family support through our Hillcrest Community Support Services office in Pittsfield, MA.  Families can utilize familiar campus staff for consultation and youth support in moments of difficulty by simply picking up the phone to call.  We look forward to new opportunities to support our local community through the Caring Together services.

Hillcrest Launches Dual M.Ed. & BCBA Graduate Program

ECLogo_WM_BlackHillcrest Educational Centers and Endicott College’s Van Loan School have partnered to offer a local graduate program.  The program will provide both a Masters in Special Education and training required for Board Certification in Behavior Analysis (BCBA).

The Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Van Loan School is a unique, advanced-level teacher preparation program focused on the application of behavioral principles in addressing the needs of exceptional learners. The program fulfills the educational requirements to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) examination.

Individuals who hold a graduate degree in Special Education, Psychology, or a related field and who are seeking certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), may also enroll in Endicott’s BACB-approved, six-course sequence in preparation for the certification examination.

Todd Castine, Director of Autism Services stated, “This is an exciting time for Hillcrest and the local community.  Hillcrest will have the opportunity to recruit high quality candidates to study Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis with the hope that they will also be interested in working in the Autism Spectrum Disorder field.   It is our hope that graduates will develop their skills with us and then continue to work here at Hillcrest and throughout the Berkshires”.

For more information about this program please contact Todd Castine, Director of Autism Services at Hillcrest Educational Centers at 413-637-2834 ext. 225 or

Campus Spotlight: Autism Spectrum Disorder Program (ASD)

Autism AwarenessAutism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Program Overview

Our Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Residential Program, run by Hillcrest’s Director of Autism Services, Todd Castine, offers highly-specialized day, and intensive residential treatment services for children and adolescents at all levels of the Autism spectrum.

The Program’s high staff-to-student ratio ensures a safe, caring and highly-structured treatment environment. To monitor progress, we use state-of-the-art data collection and analysis systems for ongoing assessments of:

Social Needs • Communication • Academic/Skill Acquisition •Vocational Needs • Recreation • Behavioral Difficulties

Our team of professionals and support staff are led by an administrative team with decades of experience in the treatment of Autism. All facets of treatment provided in this program are supervised by Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Todd Castine, Director of Autism Services

Todd Castine, Director of Autism Services


In the Residential Program, all space has been specifically designed for the safety and special needs of the Autism population. Our classrooms have features that help minimize distractions while maximizing learning opportunities during the school day. To ensure that students safely achieve the most in their daily living and pre-vocational skills practice, residential dormitories have been designed using special hardware, fixtures, and furnishings.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Our Educational Center Team

All program staff participate in 9 days of HEC orientation training and therapeutic crisis intervention strategies. An additional 40 hours of ASD-specific training includes the following components:

Characteristics of the Spectrum
Basic behavior principles
Reinforcement strategies and how to elicit behavior from children
Behavior management techniques
Discrete Trial Training Group management techniques
Various skill acquisition and prompting procedures


Layout 1Your Support Matters
With our 2015 Annual Campaign season underway, we are hoping you can consider a gift this year.  As a private non-profit agency, we rely heavily on charitable donations and the generosity of our supporters to maintain the best possible academic, therapeutic and living environments for our students. Your contributions directly help with these defining commitments.

2014 Annual Campaign CollageWith your generous help our children will Heal, Learn and Thrive.

To donate online visit, or contact Hillcrest’s Director of Development, Sheila Mason, or 413-499-7924 ext. 133.

Letter from Chairman of the Board – 
John J. Martin, Jr.

John Martin

John J. Martin, Jr.

To our Hillcrest family:

I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to continue to work with Hillcrest’s talented and dedicated staff in my new role as Chairman of the Board of Directors. As many of you know, the Board’s primary responsibility is (i) to provide senior management guidance with respect to executive decisions; (ii) to assist with fundraising; and (iii) to evaluate the President and CEO’s performance, on a annual basis. In addition to those fundamental responsibilities, I have four personal goals with respect to my Chairmanship, they are:

1. To “Challenge” our current Directors – Hillcrest is well served by a long-standing and committed Board. I will attempt to capitalize on each respective member’s individual strengths and skills, tapping into their  wealth of institutional and historical knowledge, while at the same time challenging them to accept new responsibilities, with a likely ask for even more of their time and talent on behalf of Hillcrest;

2. To “Learn” from the Senior Management Team – Hillcrest is a complex and multifaceted charitable social service agency and we are fortunate to have a superior executive staff in place. In my role as Chairman, I will endeavor to learn as much as I can from them so as to hopefully develop the skills necessary to provide valuable guidance during my tenure;

3. To “Support” the Staff – I fully recognize the nature and difficulty of the various staff positions here at Hillcrest. I applaud each staff member’s attentive, caring nature and attribute our success to their day-to-day effort. During my term, I pledge to support our staff and to recognize their genuine and sincere commitment, as well as their accomplishments, in every way possible; and

4. To “Serve” the Students & Clients – The sole reason Hillcrest exists is to help the students who have been entrusted to our care, their families and the clients of our community support services. Each decision we make, or action we take, should first and foremost be for the betterment of those students and clients. Our organization delivers desperately needed services and assistance, and we need to ensure that we are doing all we can to improve the lives of those we serve.

This year we have a unique opportunity to share our story with the community. You will observe our efforts to ensure that the mission and accomplishments of Hillcrest become more public. Whether you are an employee, volunteer or contributor — be proud of our organization and of your association with it and know that as you continue to support Hillcrest, we will continue to support our students and clients.

With heartfelt gratitude for and from our children,

John J. Martin, Jr., Chairman

Hillcrest Celebrates 30 Years!


Hillcrest Educational Centers is celebrating 30 years of providing therapeutic treatment and special education to children and adolescents with unique psychological and learning needs. “During our 30 years in business we have touched the lives of thousands of young people, their families and their communities,” said Gerard E. Burke, President & CEO of Hillcrest. “We continue to develop our organization in response to the needs of families, who often feel they have run out of solutions until they connect with our caring and professional staff.” The private not-for-profit has also formed Hillcrest Educational Foundation (HEF), a parent company that will serve as an umbrella organization for Hillcrest’s diversified services.

Hillcrest, which serves students from across the country, was started as an organization providing residential programs for students with complex psychiatric, behavioral and/or developmental disorders, and a variety of high-risk behaviors. Today it has grown into a diverse health and human services organization whose mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families through an array of services.

Burke noted, “The success that our students and clients have experienced over the last 30 years is a testament to the hundreds of talented staff members that have served with us throughout our history. Their unequaled commitment and performance has been the critical factor in helping us carry out our organization’s mission to facilitate the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth of our students through the development of new skills that will better enable them to succeed in their home community.”

Burke described the establishment of the Foundation as a necessary evolution in Hillcrest’s growth: “We have grown and diversified our services over the years to include specialized behavioral health care, educational, Autism and dental services.  Looking back at the lessons learned over the past 30 years, this seemed like the appropriate time to create the Foundation. We’ve set it up as a unifying organization that will provide efficiencies and economies to better serve our clients, while helping to ensure that Hillcrest can continue to grow and to meet the needs of our students and clients over the next 30 years,” Burke said.