Originally started as a home for “wayward boys” in 1886, the Berkshire Farm House and Services for Youth has provided services for boys for over 100 years in Canaan, New York. Founded by Frederick and Catharine Burnham, the husband and wife team bought the acreage from a Shaker community to fill a community need for housing troubled young boys, which started the legacy that is now Berkshire; a home-like environment where boys can thrive.
Located on a vast 2,000 acre campus, Berkshire’s residential treatment facility offers specialized treatment for young boys and their families. Berkshire is a non-institutional detention facility that provides school, workforce development, mental health treatment and specialized services at no cost to the family. Clients in the residential program have access to outpatient substance abuse treatment facilitated by the clinical staff on campus.
Accommodations and Food
The Berkshire campus offers several different academies, each with its own house where clients are accommodated. Depending on the academy, a client may have anywhere from five to 15 housemates clustered within one housing unit. All treatment and housing is located on the same campus but distributed due to the varying programs, age groups and services offered.
All clients have a private room with a twin bed, dresser, a desk for school work and closet for storage of personal belongings. All clients are expected to keep their own space clean and to perform their assigned chores so they may learn to have better hygiene and respect for others.
All meals are served cafeteria-style in the campus cafeteria. Meals are healthy and balanced, served three times per day in a large dining hall. Clients are not allowed to drink caffeine but are allowed to have sweets from time to time. All clients are supervised at all times—day and night—by staff.
The campus offers computer labs for clients to complete homework assignments. Residents have access to media rooms with appropriate movies, TV shows and video games. The Berkshire campus also has its own movie theatre where clients can enjoy a movie night with fellow residents. Off-campus trips may be organized based on each client’s progress and good behavior.
Treatment and Staff
Berkshire offers clinical treatment for boys and their families in order to provide a threshold for growth in the household. Since all clients are under the age of 18 and in the care of their guardians, the therapeutic staff focus keenly on developing trust and healing in the family unit.
Typically treatment lasts anywhere from 90 days to nine months in total, based around a school semester system. Clients may only be at Berkshire for the length of one school semester or an entire school year based on the results of a bio-psycho-social assessment. Clients are typically referrals from a mental health professional or by the juvenile criminal justice system. If a resident illustrates issues with substance abuse, they are enrolled in the outpatient substance abuse treatment program on campus.
All clients participate in weekly group therapy with Master’s-level counselors that specialize in the treatment of adolescents. Group sessions focus on anger management, conflict resolution within families, social skills, anger management and trauma. Additional groups are offered that focus on workforce skills to improve their employability and general life skills. In addition to group therapy, clients are encouraged to pursue 12-step programs when they graduate Berkshires additional support upon discharge—though there are no 12-step meetings on campus and clients are not transported to meetings.
Individual therapy is available for clients to meet once or twice a week with their counselor. A majority of substance abuse therapy is through psychoeducation and relapse prevention. Family therapy is an important component of substance abuse treatment through Berkshire and counselors work intensively with families to educate them about the reality of chemical dependency in adolescents and how to create a home that is conducive to recovery.
If a client struggles with co-occurring disorders, two child psychiatrists are on staff to provide dual diagnosis support. If a client requires medication, clients meet regularly for medication management services as well as crisis intervention and family support.
Clients are regularly taken on outings if they exhibit good behavior and are excelling through the program. Activities include recreational time on the lake with swimming lessons, fishing, BBQs, boating and kayaking. The campus includes an outdoor soccer field, rock climbing walls, tennis courts, volleyball, softball, basketball and a weight training room. Berkshire also offers a Health and Wellness program that teaches clients nutritional skills, gardening, culinary arts and community involvement.
The Berkshire Farm House and Services for Youth has a rich history of providing assistance for young boys and their families. By providing residential and mental health care, youth and their families may heal from their difficulties including chemical dependency. Clients work with Master’s-level counselors to become educated on substance abuse and addiction. For no cost to the family, Berkshire is state- and privately-funded to offer essential services to New York and surrounding communities.
Berkshire Farm Center & Services for Youth Location
13640 Rte 22
Canaan, NY 12029
Berkshire Farm House and Services for Youth Cost
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