Frustrated by what they see as a lack of urgency by officials and motivated by a film that tracked a recovery high school in Houston, two administrators at a Hamden children’s facility are hoping to start a “pilot’’ recovery class.
Dan Lyga, chief executive officer of The Children’s Center of Hamden, and Sarah Lockery, chief administrator of community services, said they hope that if a class of 6-8 high school students gets going that it would serve as a model for others to copy and use in other parts of the state.
“We think it is necessary for small steps to be taken to get bigger ideas started,” Lyga said. “Instead of waiting for the state legislature to act on this long-needed initiative, we want to get going ourselves.’’
Across the country, there are 36 recovery high schools, ranging in size from 30 to 100 students. The nearest recovery high schools are in Massachusetts, which has five.
But in Connecticut, attempts to fund recovery high schools haven’t made it through the Education Committee in the last two legislative sessions.
Talk about renewing the recovery high school effort in the General Assembly have resurfaced in recent weeks after two sold-out showings of Generation Found.
Generation Found was co-directed by Jeff Reilly, a Guilford native and Newtown High School graduate Greg Williams, a recovery advocate who last year launched the nation’s first big-budget addiction organization with a Westport businessman whose son died of a drug overdose.
The film makes the case that recovery high schools — in conjunction with support programs for teens on nights and weekends — can make a difference when other treatment attempts have failed.
Lyga estimated it would cost about $300,000 to get the pilot program started, stating the costs involve hiring a teacher, support staff and other supplementary materials, curricula and equipment. He said the Children’s Center would underwrite some of the costs of the program, but that a major fundraising initiative is planned to foot the full bill.
Lyga said it is likely the initial class would be high-school age teens “from the Greater New Haven area.’’
Lockery added: “The opiate crisis has propelled our communities to talk about addiction. Kids who struggle with substances have limited autonomy to change the people, places and things in their lives when they continue to live in their same communities and attend the same schools with the same people.
“Generation Found” is not just a film. It is a call to action,” Lockery said. “The Children’s Center of Hamden is answering that call. We can’t depend on public funding due to the current fiscal climate in Connecticut.”
The center already has an accredited school on its campus and is licensed to provide substance abuse treatment.
“Rather than do nothing or delay efforts until we have the resources for a recovery school, let’s start now with one class,” Lockery said.
The Children’s Center of Hamden is Connecticut’s oldest charter private child-caring agency for children and teens who struggle with emotional, behavioral, psychological and social problems.
Founded in 1833, it provides services to more than 150 children and their families.
Those interested in learning more about the effort to start a class can contact Lockery at