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Who We Are and What We Do

Who We Are

Birch Family Services is a team of more than 3,000 teachers, therapists, social workers, psychologists, nurses, residence counselors, administrators, board members, and family members working together:

  • To provide the finest education, habilitation, and residential services to people with autism and other developmental disabilities
  • To help their families overcome the lifelong obstacles they face in raising children with disabilities.

We’ve grown from a few classrooms into a large network of schools, residences, and family support programs located throughout New York City. Committed to sharing our expertise widely for the benefit of those we serve, we train hundreds of professionals throughout the tri-state area in our Birch Training Institute.

We speak many languages and reflect the social, racial, and ethnic diversity of New York City.

The Services We Provide


Pre-School Special Education for children 2.6 through age 5

supervised residences

Small Supervised Residences for adolescents and adults

Head Start and Day Care

Head Start and Day Care for typically-developing children, as well as for those with special needs

Day Habilitation

Day Habilitation for graduates from the NYC Board of Education

Special Education

School-Age Special Education services for children, adolescents and young adults ranging in age of 5-8 and 11-21 years old.

Family Support

Family Support for any family who needs our help

The 1,500 children, adolescents, and adults we help each day are affected by:

  • Disabilities: autism, emotional disabilities, severe speech and language impairments, severe learning disabilities and traumatic brain injuries
  • Poverty: 75% of the children we serve live in families with incomes so low that they qualify for federal meal subsidies.

“The way the teachers and therapists give you the tools you need to care for your child… it’s like the parent becomes part of the team.”

Birch client Birch client Hillcrest Birch clients

What We Are Proud Of

  • We’ve helped 15,000 families since 1975
  • We’ve been on the cutting edge of services in so many areas
  • Our programs & services are sought after by families and highly respected by our peers and regulators
“First and foremost, my child needs to be safe and needs to be loved. That’s what he gets at Birch.”
“Birch’s staff really knows how to reach children with special needs- and the progress that Sam is making under their guidance is tremendous.”
“Could my son ever become a well-rounded, confident person? Quinn is becoming that person right before our eyes.”
“All of our children are great learners- we just have to figure out how to deliver the lesson!”
“No words can describe the look on a child’s face when he does something he once thought was impossible.”
“I would cry if Birch weren’t there— it’s been so important to our family to have David happy and making continual progress. His teachers are second mothers to him and we feel blessed to have found Birch.”

But, There’s So Much More To Do

As we celebrate our significant accomplishments over 35 years, we are mindful of many critical needs yet to be addressed for the rapidly growing number of young adults with autism and related disabilities whose families turn to us for help.

A New Frontier: “Over 21 and on the Autism Spectrum”

In the past several years, the identification of children with autism has grown dramatically. Now, roughly one in 100 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Although the system of services for these children is far from perfect, there are strong imperatives in place to help ensure the treatment and education of infants and children with special needs, from birth until 21. Local school districts have turned to Birch to help meet the increased demand for services for these children— and we have provided thousands of preschool, elementary, and high school students with cutting edge education services over the years.

But, all of these children are growing up…

For nearly 21 years, their schools provided daily out-of-home learning and social experiences for children with special needs that have been crucial to the progress they have made. However, for many young adults with autism and related disorders over the age of 21, there are far fewer programs and services available to help them. Now, all too often, they are:

  • Isolated from friends
  • Unemployed
  • Not undergoing training
  • Living with their parents

Birch Family Services is committed to helping these families…

In the spirit of our long history of providing innovative solutions to difficult problems for people with disabilities, Birch is ready to help families and government create a comprehensive, effective, and affordable system of care for those more capable individuals with autism who will still need a lifetime of training, support, guidance, and protection beyond what their families alone can provide.

This problem is multi-faceted— and so are the solutions…

We are in the initial stages of tackling this problem— and we are starting by speaking with parents, young adults with autism, other professionals, and government agencies about where the gaps are, which programs and services may help, and how to fund them. At this point, the greatest needs are:

  • Develop and maintain successful social relationships
  • Get and keep a job
  • Live as independently as possible
  • Improve the family’s access to information about existing resources

We have outlined and begun to develop a comprehensive network of programs and services to meet these needs. To build this new network of programs and services, support from a variety of sources will be needed: public funding, participant fees, foundation grants, and private donations.
Learn about Birch’s New Frontier Program »

“It feels as if all of the resources & opportunities he had as a child have disappeared and that we have to start from scratch all over again.”