Answers to your Questions

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Serendipity serves between 130 and 150 students annually. Over the course of a school year, enrollment averages between 101 and 103 enrolled on any given day.

To meet the needs of our students and deliver services consistent with our philosophy and model, Serendipity employs a large and layered staff. Each of the twelve classrooms is led by a teacher and supported by between two and ten additional assistants.

The mental health care for each student is planned and coordinated by a master’s level case manager. Therapeutic activities are delivered by a Garden Coordinator, a Therapeutic Recreation Instructor, and a licensed Art Therapist.

There is a team of Behavioral Interventionists available daily on the floor. Two speech/language pathologists deliver services to eligible students. Behavioral support and staff coaching are provided to classrooms by an Integrated Intervention Specialist, a clinical supervisor, and a specialist in autism.

Program leadership is shared by a Program Manager, our Treatment Director, and the school’s Principal. A four-person team coordinates the special education processes of IEP development, assessments, and eligibility.

Additional support is provided through our Food Services Chefs, our Facilities Coordinator, and all the functions that serve the school behind the scenes (the Finance Department, the Development Director, HR, Operations and Safety, Compliance, the contracted psychiatrist and nurse, along with our full-time CMA, Program Secretary, Registrar, administrative assistants, and an Executive Director.

Serendipity is located in SE Portland, Oregon at the intersection of SE 148th and Division St.

School districts that refer students to Serendipity pay tuition for the services they receive. This funding provides the basic structure of a therapeutic school. The features of the program that allow Serendipity to provide highly individualized and innovative care are funded by donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations that prioritize children with intensive needs.

School districts also pay for student transportation to and from Serendipity’s campus.

Serendipity follows a school year calendar largely congruent with those of our districts. We offer a four week summer session for those students approved by the districts to attend.

Based on our last completed school year (2016-2017), the profile of Serendipity’s students revealed the following:

  • 83% male
  • Referred by 23 school districts in four counties
  • Range in age from 6 to 20 years of age
  • 28% identify as non-Caucasian
  • Referred most commonly due to district concerns around physical and verbal aggression, multiple failed placements, histories of multiple suspensions, and self-endangering behaviors
  • A minimum of 68% have experienced at least one adverse or traumatic experience
  • In term of types of disabling conditions that qualified Serendipity students for Special Education, the most common are Seriously Emotionally Disturbed, Other Health Impaired, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Communication Disorders.
  • Looking at most typical mental health diagnoses, we find ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The percentage of students challenged by issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorders averages a third of our student population.

There are challenges related to volunteers working directly with students at Serendipity. The intervention and instructional models are highly defined and training is rigorous and on going to achieve fidelity to these models. Parents can assist on field trips and special occasions, as well as helping in our library and on garden work parties.

Through the model of case management in place at Serendipity, there is family support extended to all families. For families interested in family therapy, this can be delivered or referrals provided to community based providers.

Lengthy bus rides can be challenging to Serendipity students and some are an hour or more in length.

Currently, 23 school districts have students placed at Serendipity.

Serendipity depends on volunteers, most of whom are not family members of enrolled students. Garden work parties, special events, the maintenance of the library, the Marketing Committee, the Finance Committee, the Capital Projects Committee, and the Board of Directors are all current opportunities for qualified volunteers.

Any of these are possibilities for which we would welcome volunteers. As volunteers have become acquainted with our mission and our work, we have also appreciated new opportunities to inform the community about therapeutic education and the critical nature of helping vulnerable children while they are still engaged in school. Speaking and networking opportunities have been developed by volunteers and all have resulted in important dialog on behalf of young people who are seeking to live with disability and/or trauma.

This spring, the following living arrangements are represented in our student population:

  • 68% living with one or both parents.
  • 10% living with grandparent or other relatives.
  • 14% living in foster homes.
  • 7% living in group homes.
  • 1% in another facility.

At this time, the only public source of revenue is school district tuition. We are exploring other potential funding sources, particularly those targeting capital projects.

If you have any other questions, please click here to submit them via Serendipity’s CONTACT US webpage.