The mission of the Bradley Center is straightforward: to provide children, youth and families the help they need to overcome trauma, mental health challenges and rediscover hope. The Center began as an orphanage in 1905 but at its core, the mission has always been to help children evolve into fully functioning adults. Now, it is a behavioral health program located in Robinson Township that operates as a psychiatric residential treatment center, a licensed, private academic school, and an outpatient program for individuals who are struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral health and intellectual challenges.
North Hills Monthly spoke with Chief Executive Officer Lisa Fox about the ways in which the Bradley Center is making a difference in the lives of children, youth, and families.
North Hills Monthly (NHM): On your website, you talk about ‘Building Lives of Possibility,’ and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to what you do—can you elaborate on this philosophy?
Lisa Fox (Fox): Kids have a lot to navigate in today’s world. Mental and behavioral health issues along with trauma can, in some cases, really impact how a child develops. At Bradley, we offer opportunities for kids to be kids. Our residents and students can grow, laugh, learn and be successful in a supported, therapeutic environment that celebrates their uniqueness. For many, it’s the first time that they’ve ever been able to experience that kind of support and success. It’s the most incredible thing; it keeps me grounded and why I do what I do.
NHM: What types of issues can you help them with?
Fox: In our school and psychiatric residential program, we work with children and youth who have challenging mental health and behavioral health needs. They are referred to us when their behaviors and emotions require additional support from trained professionals. We provide services to children with multiple diagnoses, including but not limited to autism spectrum, intellectual disabilities, depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, and PTSD.
Many children referred to us also have experienced trauma. Trauma comes in many forms. It can be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or the trauma experienced as the result of COVID, bullying or domestic issues. Our world has become increasingly difficult to navigate—especially for children. Our Bradley team works to create an environment that promotes safety and healing.
NHM: What spectrum of services does the Bradley Center offer?
Fox: The Bradley Center operates a psychiatric residential treatment facility, a 24-hour residential program that offers intensive mental health treatment for children ages 6-18 who have severe mental, emotional, intellectual, and behavioral challenges. The youth stay on-site at Bradley while they receive care and treatment until they are ready to return home.
We have a licensed, private academic school that serves children in K-12; children come to us from approximately 50 school districts. We operate according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) guidelines for schools. We also provide school-based mental health services which means we provide therapeutic services on site at several schools in our area.
We opened our Bradley Outpatient Program in October 2021 to serve children, adults, and families.
NHM: How and why is therapy incorporated into the school day?
Fox: Students who are experiencing trauma or behavioral health challenges often need the additional support that therapy offers in order to learn. In some cases, the therapy provides the additional focus that is needed to promote academic, social, and emotional success. Since COVID and even before, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of children who have reported feeling scared, anxious, and depressed. Therapy offers a safe place to talk through these feelings so school can be more manageable. I really think that offering therapy to students is essential for so many reasons. I’ve mentioned a few, but we also have children in our school who do not have access to food or regular shelter. Our therapists are trained to talk about these sensitive issues with children and families.
NHM: What are the ultimate goals for children who come through the Bradley Center?
Fox: Every child has their own unique set of clinical and educational goals tailored just for them, but I would say that the staff at Bradley want to see those we serve go on to be productive, healthy adults.
NHM: Recently, the facility built a creative arts studio—can you provide some detail about those efforts, including what the impetus was for this studio, and the importance of art in the healing process?
Fox: It is called the Lotus Studio—Loving Ourselves Through Unique Senses. We offer art, music therapy, yoga, movement, and a relaxation area as part of our programming. We also have an awesome, state-of-the-art recording studio for our kids to use. Expressive therapies provide opportunities for our residents and students to communicate and process unique emotions in creative and imaginative ways. We have found the creative and expressive arts to be very beneficial in treating PTSD, severe depression, and anxiety…and the kids love them. We showcase many of the art pieces in our main lobby. The artistic talent of our kids is just amazing!
NHM: You have other expansion plans as well, don’t you?
Fox: We recently purchased a 3.5-acre piece of land that is within walking distance of our main campus. We are really excited about our new property. We will eventually offer vocational training, career readiness programming, and additional services for youth and families. For now, we will utilize the outdoor open space for athletics, nature hikes, picnics, concerts for the kids, and maybe even stargazing!
NHM: What is the main thing you’d like readers to know about The Bradley Center?
Fox: We have stayed true to our mission since 1905 because we truly care about those we serve. I think The Bradley Center has been here for so long because we truly believe in the potential of children. We believe in hope because we believe in kids.
To learn more about The Bradley Center, visit www.thebradleycenter.org.