Bellewood & Brooklawn Mission: Providing Care from Childhood through Adulthood

Natalie Kelly leads the continuum of care services for Bellewood & Brooklawn/Seven Counties Services.

It’s an all-too-familiar story: “Sarah” arrived at UCC-related Bellewood & Brooklawn in Louisville, Ky., at age 15 after years of abuse and trauma. Deserted in infancy, she had been raised by a family friend, whom she called “aunt,” and then by a sister. Sarah was a victim of sexual abuse at age 12 and began abusing marijuana and alcohol. By the time she came to the Bellewood campus, she was displaying verbal and physical aggression, trusted no one, and was unable to set healthy boundaries.

Thankfully, at Bellewood, Sarah found the help she needed. “During her time in our care, therapists worked with Sarah on regulating her mood and identifying healthy relationships with others,” says Natalie Kelly, vice president for system of care services for Seven Counties Services/Bellewood & Brooklawn. “Sarah improved quickly with the help of the Bellewood & Brooklawn team and was able to discharge from treatment just shy of three months to go live safely with her aunt’s daughter.”

Following discharge, Sarah continued to receive follow-up care and treatment thanks to Bellewood & Brooklawn’s sister organization, Seven Counties Services. That care included outpatient services, including regular meetings with a therapist and a psychiatrist. Serving the community with a “continuum of care” approach is key to the outreach success of UCC-related Bellewood & Brooklawn and Seven Counties Services, and helps provide Louisville-area youth and families with access to an increasingly wide variety of services.

Though operating separately, Bellewood & Brooklawn and Seven Counties Services share IT, medical staff, health records, management staff, and a single board of directors. Their services are particularly important to one of the most vulnerable populations served by Seven Counties Services and Bellewood & Brooklawn — youth and young adults in transition to adulthood.

Youth in Bellewood & Brooklawn’s residential program begin a life skills program well before age 15 that helps prepare them for living independently. The youth work on job interview skills, financial planning, and other aspects of becoming self-sufficient. Following discharge, an entire team of health professionals is on hand to help the youth successfully walk into adulthood.

“The larger vision for the continuum of care is really two-pronged,” says Kelly. Regardless of how or where individuals enter the services provided by Seven Counties Services/Bellewood & Brooklawn, their needs are met, she adds. Additionally, staff members work to engage families sooner and reduce the length of stay for a child at Bellewood & Brooklawn, with in-home and community-based services made available as needed.

This approach also helps young adults without family supports succeed after they leave Bellewood & Brooklawn.

“We know that youth who are transitioning to adulthood and back into the community without the support of a family will also be more successful because they are supported beyond a residential treatment setting,” Kelly says. “Should the young person need additional mental health support, we can provide that through Seven Counties Services and continue their care with us.”

Seven Counties Services and Bellewood & Brooklawn joined forces in 2018 in order to create a comprehensive program of care for at-risk children and families in Kentucky. To help the continuum of care operate even more efficiently, Kelly currently is developing an in-depth assessment of the programs within the two organizations in order to identify and remove challenges and barriers to treatment, and to enhance the integration of services across agencies.

The goal, Kelly says, is to prepare the youth they serve to become successful adults by providing the services and supports they need as they grow. Even though “the agency cannot replace parents or family, we can provide a consistent and supportive environment that functions alongside the young person, so they are not alone,” she says.

Although combining the efforts of two agencies into one model of care can present challenges, Kelly says it’s a model for ensuring that families get their needs met, “no matter the intensity of those needs — from prevention services on the front end, to helping youth get stabilized in the community after leaving residential treatment.

“Our common platform between Seven Counties Services and Bellewood & Brooklawn is to bring healing to families so they can thrive.”

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