Our History

Westbrook began long before it had a name.

It began with concerned parents who had something in common: a child with high functioning autism. Many struggled to get teachers and schools to understand that even though their child was bright, they had other real challenges and needed modified work and special care just like any other young person with special needs.

In 2006, New York State began developing a plan to bring 100-150 students with special needs who had previously been sent out of state due to a lack of well-suited schools, back to New York. State officials began to hold public forums about the plan.

A movement was born.

The founders of Westbrook connected and, from 2006-2010, they fought a long battle to establish a residential school tailored to their children’s unique needs, meeting with funders several times a year. With SCO Family of Services as their partner, they found a venue for the school — St. Brigid’s Parish in Westbury, a former convent.

In 2008, nearly 500 Westbury residents attended a village meeting wearing big, green smiley face badges that read “Westbury Welcomes Westbrook.” The enthusiasm and acceptance from the community stunned many of the parents and one says it was one of the most striking experiences of her life.

Westbrook ribbon cuttingIn February 2011, after years of planning, New York State opened its first residential school for youth with high functioning autism: Westbrook Preparatory School.

We help

2,500

people with special needs develop skills to reach their full potential

We shelter

4,900

youth, adults and children