The Northern Westchester Examiner

Shrub Oak Treatment Center for Teens to Close in June

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A residential treatment center for troubled teens that drew the ire of some neighbors when it first opened more than 30 years ago will be closing its facility on Stony Street in Shrub Oak in June.

The Phoenix House Academy, which at one time had about 250 students ranging in age from 14 to 18, expects to have less than 10 clients by June, at which time the remaining students will be served on an individual basis, according to Karen Sodomick, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Phoenix House Foundation.

“This was a difficult decision given our almost 50-year record of providing a lifeline to teenagers who are struggling with the disease of addiction,” Sodomick said of the nonprofit organization that was created in 1972 and currently operates nine academies in six states.

“Since 1981, The Phoenix House Academy in Westchester has helped thousands of troubled teens reclaim their lives, establishing itself as a vital county resource for at-risk youth and their families,” Sodomick stated. “Today, we operate in a very different funding and regulatory climate. Juvenile justice reform and changing arrest policies have had a significant impact, reducing the number of teens referred for residential treatment. Funders prefer smaller, community-based programs that are ‘close to home’ and our campus proved to be a bit too far from the city. It is also large and expensive to maintain.”

The 140-acre property, surrounded by a stone wall, includes a five-story, 270,000-square-foot building, six houses for staff residences and several other buildings. The main building houses dormitories, classrooms, offices and a bomb shelter. In 2000, the property was put on the market for $15 million.

Built in 1954, the property once housed Loyola Seminary and a Bible college. Sodomick said the Phoenix House Foundation Board of Directors was “assessing its options” regarding the future of the site.

Meanwhile, 59 full-time and part-time staff members of the academy will be out of work. “We have provided more than three months’ notice and hope this is sufficient time for staff to map out their future endeavors,” Sodomick stated.

The Phoenix House has two other academies in New York State (East Hampton and Brooklyn) and operates more than 20 residential and outpatient programs for approximately 2,000 adults and adolescents in the state.

“This move in no way affects our commitment to continuing adolescent programming across Phoenix House and in New York State,” Sodomick stated. “We remain committed to serving vulnerable youth and will work to develop other models of care to serve adolescents with substance abuse challenges.”

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