The Clear View School opened with five small classes on January 2, 1968 in a small wood frame building in Pelham Manor under the direction of founder, William T. Barnes. It was then the only day school for emotionally disturbed children in Westchester County, and one of the first in the country. This tiny program was established through the love and devotion of a small group of pioneering parents who ten years earlier had founded the Association for Mentally Ill Children of Westchester, Inc. (AMIC) because their troubled children had no place to go for the help they needed.
Soon after opening, Clear View moved to bigger, more accommodating facilities on the grounds of Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry. It remained there for the next thirteen years. By that time, the School had grown from a small, struggling program to an established and respected treatment center for more than 75 children and families grappling with mental illness, and its program was widely recognized for its excellence and capacity to offer hope to families who had found none elsewhere.
From inception, Clear View has been in the forefront of the effort to ensure programs and services for children with emotional disabilities and their families. The early success of its classroom programs helped to demonstrate that, given opportunity, children struggling with extreme difficulties could progress and learn. The emotional growth that resulted from integrated sessions helped parents and professionals alike understand that caring, child focused treatment could make a difference.
When parents and advocates for the disabled convinced New York Senator Jacob Javits to sponsor The Equal Rights for Handicapped Children Act in 1979, the success of the methods and standards pioneered by Clear View, along with those of the very few similar programs in operation at the time, provided evidence and models for the new programs to which children would now have a right.
Throughout the 1980s, Clear View participated in the progression of special education case law, and in the development of a truly comprehensive model of special education and day treatment services, in which children who need intensive mental health treatment can attend a school where they receive a special education program fully integrated with their therapeutic treatment services. As a member of professional associations and advocacy alliances, Clear View continues to work toward the improvement of services that support children as full members of their families and communities, while preserving the understanding that assistance must be available for as long as needed.
For more than five decades the staff has helped hundreds of children grow, learn, heal and lead productive lives. During the next 50 years, many more children in urgent need of help will find their way to its welcoming doors.