Program Description

The VACN is a staff-secure, short-term treatment program providing Comprehensive Assessment & Stabilization services to support adolescents, families, and community stakeholders.  The Newbury House is a stunning former bed and breakfast that is located on 250 beautiful acres in Newbury, Vermont.  The property also includes a trout pond.



The VACN provides up to 8 assessment beds, 2 of which can be utilized for stabilization beds, to serve male youth ages 11 to 17 who are identified by the Central Review Committee (CRC) as requiring an assessment to determine treatment needs. 


Program Philosophy & Goals:

Assessment and treatment approaches towards adolescents displaying concerning behaviors has changed dramatically throughout recent years in response to emerging research and experience. Empirical examination of what works in treatment during the past two decades has increasingly shown the importance of community-based treatments wherever possible and involving supportive family in all treatment settings (e.g., Office of the Surgeon General, 2001). Organizations have emerged that have heightened awareness of existence of effective treatments, including such as the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. The VACN program is founded on the philosophy that all residential treatment should be considered “respite.” It is a chance for the family and other stakeholders to “catch their breath” and evaluate what is and is not working, and to develop a new plan of care to enable the adolescent to succeed in the least restrictive community-based setting possible. Based on this philosophical underpinning, the primary goals of the VACN program are:

  1. To provide needed short-term (up to 90 days) respite and support to the caregiver and community stakeholders;

  2. To stabilize the adolescent clinically and behaviorally;

  3. To provide a comprehensive and holistic assessment, including a review of the impact of trauma on the adolescent; and

  4. To successfully transition the student to the least restrictive environment possible, as agreed by stakeholders.

While not always possible, the presumptive goal is that transition will be to a community-based setting, whenever possible. We believe a quality, comprehensive clinical assessment is a key component to achieving the goals of the program since a plan of care that does not contemplate current conditions, future needs and levels of risk will ultimately fail.

Meet The Team
Steve Lussier.jpg

Steve has earned a Master’s of Education in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) from Johnson State College, graduated from Lyndon State College with a BS in Counseling/Human Services, and earned a Post Baccalaureate Certification in General Special Education through Granite State College.  Steve is currently licensed in both Vermont and New Hampshire as a Special Educator and is being supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) as he works towards his own certification.


Steve has been employed in various roles with the Becket Family of Services since 1996, currently serving as the Executive Director for the Vermont Support & Stabilization (VTSS) and the Vermont Assessment Center @ Newbury (VACN).  Steve is also a member of the organizational Senior Leadership Team.  Previous roles include Head of School, Lead Special Educator, Director of Permanency Services for Vermont Programs, Residential Director, Family Service Coordinator, Special Education Coordinator, Adventure Based Enrichment Specialist, and Assistant Principal to name a few.  Steve possesses a great deal of experience working directly with youth and families involved in both residential and community-based settings from all over New England, including working directly in the home with families from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.   In Vermont, Steve is also actively involved with the Vermont Coalition of Residential Providers (VCORP), previously serving in various officer positions including Secretary, Vice President, and President.


Steve currently lives with his wife, Sarah, and their children, Emma, Cameron, and Elizabeth in Fairfax, Vermont.

Executive Director

Steve Lussier, M.Ed.

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Melissa completed her Master of Social Work degree in 2008 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Upon completion of her degree she returned to her native New England to pursue her professional career in social work. She joined Becket Family of Services in 2013 with a diverse range of professional experience within the field of human services. Melissa’s past work experiences include Northeastern Family Institute, Nevada Division of Children and Family Services, Horizon’s Academy, Easter Seals, and the Vermont Department for Children and Families. Over the years, Melissa held various roles and titles, including residential counselor, employment coach, social worker, and juvenile probation officer. She initially joined the Vermont Support & Stabilization team as a Permanency Clinician and accepted the Clinical Director position in November of 2016.


Melissa is currently licensed to practice clinical social work (LICSW) in Vermont. Her clinical training background includes a variety of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solutions Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and EMDR. She is currently undergoing supervision and consultation towards certification in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy and is currently providing EMDR therapy to select clients.


Melissa is passionate about working with children and families and believes personal/familial growth is achieved when children and families are offered a safe space to own and discover their personal power, drawing on strengths and insights of the family system to achieve identified goals. 

Clinical Director / Prescribing Practitioner

Melissa Edwards,LICSW

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Aya received her BS in Psychology at the University of Vermont where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2007. As an undergraduate, Aya was the recipient of the Hannah Howard Prize and the Outstanding Senior Award for the College of Arts and Sciences. She completed her Master of Social Work degree in 2016 (UVM) after dedicating two years of field practicum work focusing on comprehensive clinical assessments. Aya joined Becket Family of Services in 2013 with a background in juvenile justice and working with adolescent populations. Prior to joining her current team, Aya served youth in a secure juvenile detention/rehabilitation setting in various capacities and roles over eight years; her passion for working with at-risk community based youth is driven by her goal of helping prevent as many youth as possible from being removed from their homes and communities. Aya has extensive experience in community reintegration and transitioning youth from residential treatment; she is committed to assisting youth and families in achieving permanency.


In addition to bringing a strong background in clinical assessment to the VTSS team, Aya offers services as a family and individual therapist whose practice is focused around trauma-informed and evidence based practices. She additionally offers EMDR psychotherapy and is actively working towards certification in this modality. Aya approaches her work with youth and families through the framework offered by Attachment Regulation, and Competency (ARC) and believes collaboration across environmental systems is a key factor in helping youth and families stabilize. She is currently registered as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with the State of Vermont.


Aya was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and brings to the table a culturally sensitive perspective, along with a commitment to a practice that honors diversity.

Assistant Clinical Director

Aya Inoue, LICSW

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Mark came from a low income family and decided to join the work force after graduating from Oxbow High School located in Bradford Vermont. Mark worked many different jobs for the first couple years of employment such as electrician, mason, convenience store manager before landing at Becket in September of 2000.


Mark quickly rose up the management ladder going from Youth Counselor, then Assistant Residential Director, and then switching over to Campus Supervisor. In 2003, Mark had an opportunity to go back to the masonry field and be a partner with a close friend. Mark did this for seven years and then branched off and opened his own masonry company. Mark did this for 3 years but never got the same satisfaction doing masonry as he had working with kids. In 2004 Mark had his first child Tyler who was diagnosed with Autism which encouraged Mark to take some online courses the WGU and Granite State College to learn more about Autism and special education. Mark returned to Becket in 2014 when a former peer convinced Mark to return. 


Since his return to Becket, Mark has held many rolls such as Assistant Program Manager, Life Skills Teacher, Community Based Vocational Teacher, Permanency Coordinator for VTSS, Awake Overnight, and now, finally, Residential Director. Being the Residential Director, Mark sees the overall day to day operations of the dorms. Making sure there is faculty coverage, overseeing programming, supervising faculty, and many more tasked duties.


Some of Marks hobbies include sports, reading, and writing. Mark coaches Varsity Basketball as an assistant at his high school alma mater. Mark plays men's league basketball and baseball in the summer. Mark is in the process of writing a sci-fi horror novel. Mark brings his love of sports and literature to the youth he works with while teaching life skills he and the students collaborated on a short story for the school newspaper.


Mark resides in Woodsville, NH with his partner Leah and his two children Tyler 14, and Amaya 8.

Program Manager

Mark Litchfield

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Chris Lamontagne, MSW (Clinical Social worker/Milieu/Assessment Clinician): Started his career as a wilderness/adventure therapist. After joining the Becket family in 2012 performing in a multitude of clinical and developmental roles, supporting the needs of Mountain Valley Treatment Center, Hall Farm, Newbury House, Campton House, Mount Prospect Academy and the CAST program, Chris established the VACN clinical team with the opening of the program in July of 2018 with a wealth of clinical practice experience and knowledge of serving the emotional and developmental needs of youth-at-risk and their families.  In addition to his work under the Becket umbrella, he has gathered his professional experience across a variety of treatment, advocacy and support settings over the last 18 years, including working as a wilderness therapy guide at Summit Achievement (Wilderness therapy residential program in ME) and therapist at Wendigo Lake Expeditions (Wilderness therapy residential program in Ontario, Canada) and The Chamberlain School (Therapeutic boarding school in MA). Utilizing a CBT and systems approach, the power of mindfulness, healthy relationship (with self, others and the world around us), unconditional positive regard, wilderness experiences and adventure as some of the means for healthy change, his approach to holistic and sustainable change has been as dynamic and eclectic as his background and experience. He holds a B.S. in Kinesiology: Outdoor Education (Magna Cum Laude) and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. He is passionate about co-creative and strength-based work with children and families, and believes deeply in the power of a body, mind, spirit approach to their healing process. Chris came into the helping profession after an 18 year career in NY and abroad as a professional stage actor, singer, dancer, theatrical duelist and fight director. He is also a trained fencer. He has extensive wilderness/adventure experience and has been an active member of the Therapeutic Adventure Professionals Group with the Association of Experiential Education. He also holds certifications as a Wilderness EMT and whitewater raft guide (in Maine) and volunteers as ski patrol at Whaleback Mountain in NH.


After traveling extensively Chris, a native Bostonian, is happy to be back in New England with his wife and their 14-year old twin sons.

Milieu Clinician

Chris Lamontagne, MSW

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As Executive Assistant, Kathryn manages all of the business accounts and oversees all aspects of the intake process for VACN. She also serves as the program’s Human Resource Coordinator. Before joining VACN, Kathryn worked for the State of Vermont, Department for Children and Families in St. Johnsbury, VT.  Kathryn obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration and Management from New England College of Business and Finance in 2016.

Executive Assistant / Human Resources Coordinator

Kathryn Fleury, BSBA

Contact Us
Please call our team at (802) 429-2028 or fill out the form below - We will get back to you shortly!
The Building Bridges Initiative is a national endeavor to promote practice and policy that will create strong partnerships between families, youth, and community. Our members proudly support BBI and are mutually guided by its Joint Resolution to Advance a Statement of Shared Core Principles.