Ostiguy: Educational pathways for students in recovery

In collaboration with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Gavin Foundation, ABCD has operated the William J. Ostiguy High School for youth ages 14-21 who are in recovery since 2006. According to the National Equity Project, “educational equity means that each [student] receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential.” ABCD concurs. Ostiguy is the first in the nation to be accredited by the Association of Recovery Schools, and received the Boylan Award for Community Excellence from Children’s Hospital. We believe that education and empowerment are essential for overcoming barriers that contribute to poverty and inequity, especially for students who are struggling in traditional settings. 

Since the COVID shutdown, traditional treatment and referral sources for Ostiguy declined significantly. Substance abuse patterns and services also shifted. In response, Ostiguy realigned its program model to more intentionally connect with BPS and other community partners to create pathways through multiple entry points. 

Entry Point One: Ostiguy Prevention Program 
The Prevention Program is designed to meet youth in their schools and community at earlier stages of their relationship to drugs and alcohol, with a focus on education and prevention. Upon completion of the Prevention Program, students in need of more intensive intervention can be referred to additional supports including the Ostiguy Short Term Placement program. During the 2023-2024 school year, we provided services on site at seven BPS and community organizations and served 154 students.

Entry Point Two: Ostiguy Short Term Placement
Students are referred to Short Term Placement from BPS and community partners that are participating in the Prevention Program and Succeed Boston. This 45-day, school-based intervention provides intensive support for youth who are struggling with social/emotional, mental health issues related to their substance use. We transform mindset, promote health and wellness, and cultivate personal growth and development.

Upon completion, students can transition back to their original school or continue at Ostiguy Recovery High School.  

Entry Point Three: Ostiguy Recovery High School 
Youth are referred to Ostiguy Recovery High School by schools, parents, courts, state agencies, drug and alcohol treatment organizations, community youth programs and residential programs. Students in the Recovery High School have already made the decision to change their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Together, students and parents develop and regularly update an individualized recovery plan. Licensed counselors facilitate one-on-one and group counseling that help students learn, acknowledge and apply the behavioral, emotional, academic and social skills necessary for youth to progress in their recovery and academics. Enrichment activities such as crossfit, rowing and drama  provide Recovery High School students with positive alternatives to drugs and alcohol. For more information or to refer a student, email  roger.oser@bostonabcd.org.