Mount Saint Vincent has cared for children and their families since 1883. It was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, as an orphanage, at one time housing nearly 300 children.
As social philosophy moved away from orphanages, foster care services were designed to provide a family home for each child. However, for some children, a residential facility was preferable if it had trained staff and could better address medical and behavioral needs than could be provided in a family home. Just as the Sisters stepped up to become a home for boys in 1909, they stepped up again in 1969, training their Sisters through advanced degrees in social work and hiring the best staff to care for children with severe emotional and behavioral challenges due to trauma, mental illness, abuse, or neglect.
As a result of the 2006 loss of Medicaid funding for the residential care for children with mental health issues, the dynamics of the child population at Mount Saint Vincent changed. Children with the most severe mental health challenges were referred to the residential program. The residential program was one step below a psychiatric hospital with more severe and complex diagnoses. Children with less severe challenges attended the day treatment program.
In 2009, Mount Saint Vincent took another big step by adopting the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), a developmentally sensitive approach to trauma treatment. This intuitive approach expands on innate human instincts and skills, including rhythmic and relational activities like rocking, soothing, and praising children. These actions are simple but have profound impacts on brain development. As the children begin to feel comfortable in a safe and stable environment, they can develop social skills and learn impulse control, eventually integrating back into society.
The NMT model was developed by Dr. Bruce Perry, an international authority on children in crisis. He is the founder of The ChildTrauma Academy, a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of high-risk children through direct service, research and education. The ChildTrauma Academy granted its Flagship status to Mount Saint Vincent in July of 2012, making it the fourth treatment facility in the world to earn the distinction.
In 2022, after an intensive evaluation of how best to support children and families in today's environment, the Mount Saint Vincent Board of Directors decided to discontinue its Residential Treatment Program.
The primary mission has always been, and remains, to help abused, neglected, and behavioral health-challenged children to function fully in their homes and society. National and state trends in youth service delivery have led to many challenges that make it difficult for Mount Saint Vincent and other similar programs in Colorado to provide residential treatment of the type and level it is used to delivering.
Mount Saint Vincent operates many programs outside of the residential program, including:
- Outpatient therapy
Individualized day treatment through a K-8 school setting addressing cognitive, social, and behavioral needs
Foster care training and services
Community education and training to develop trauma-informed skills
- Community early learning center serving the local Denver metro area