Barber National Institute

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Barber National Institute
Barber National Institute logo.jpg
Founded 1952
Founder Dr. Gertrude A. Barber
Type 501(c)(3) charitable organization
Area served
Key people
John Barber (President and CEO)
Over 2100

The Barber National Institute (formerly the Barber Center) is a nonprofit, multi-faceted organization that provides services to more than 4,200 children, adults, and families who are faced with developmental disabilities, autism, learning delays, and mental health disorders. The institute’s central facility was founded in 1952 and is located in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Barber National Institute now employs more than 2,100 staff members throughout the state.


Dr. Gertrude A. Barber, Founder of the Barber National Institute

The Barber National Institute was founded in 1952 by the late Dr. Gertrude A. Barber.[1] An educator and administrator in the Erie City School District in Erie, Pennsylvania, Dr. Barber, along with a small group of local teachers and parents, opened a one-classroom school in the local YMCA for children with developmental disabilities. As programs expanded, the City of Erie leased its former communicable disease hospital to the Barber Center in 1958. The first permanent location for the programs, the site has formed what has become the main campus in Erie. Construction began in 1968 for new Administrative offices, a medical suite, cafeteria, and classrooms for middle and high school aged students. In 1969, a facility was opened in Corry, Pennsylvania to provide services for individuals in southern Erie County. The Barber Center’s first group homes were opened in 1973, after the closing of an institution in Venango County, PA. A satellite center was also opened in Girard, PA to accommodate those living in the western portion of Erie County. The Barber Center expanded to other areas of the state by opening group homes and support services in Philadelphia in 1990 and a day support program and residential group homes in the Pittsburgh area in 1999.


In 2003, the Barber Center name was changed to what is now the Barber National Institute. It currently serves 4,200 children and adults annually in locations across Pennsylvania. The seventh largest employer in Erie County,[2] the Barber National Institute staffs approximately 2,100 employees. The Institute provides services in a variety of fields including Autism, deaf and hearing impairment, mental retardation, Asperger Syndrome, and other disabilities.

Accreditations and memberships[edit]

Services and programs[edit]

Infants and children[edit]

  • An Autism Center for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism
  • An approved private school,[10] which includes the eleven modern classrooms housed in their Elizabeth Lee Black School
  • Bright Beginning, offering early intervention for infants and toddlers in their homes or child care centers that include physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral therapies
  • Happy Hearts Child Care and Preschool, featuring “inclusive” classrooms for typically developing children and students with disabilities
  • A preschool program for children who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • A Mental Health Partial Hospitalization Program,[11] which integrates mental health services into a child’s educational program
  • A summer camp for children and teens with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning Autism


  • Employment services including an Employment Opportunities Center, which trains and places adults with disabilities in jobs in the community
  • Adult Day Services – Assists in vocational, recreational and social skills
  • Production Services – Employs adults with disabilities in packaging, assembly, light manufacturing, and mailing services to businesses throughout the region
  • Retirement Center
  • ESO (Expanding Social Opportunities) – Recreational program in conjunction with typical peers at area colleges
  • Adult autism service that provides diagnosis, treatment and medication management

Residential services[edit]

  • Forty-six group homes throughout Erie County, Pennsylvania, as well as 25 homes in the Philadelphia area and six homes in suburban Pittsburgh
  • Supported Living, where individuals reside in their own apartments or homes with staff support
  • Life Sharing through Family Living, a program administered through the PA Department of Public Welfare[12] which enables an adult with a disability to reside with a family provider.

Community services[edit]

  • Several types of therapies, psychological and behavioral services, for example, its Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Program, family-based mental health services and targeted case management for children with autism and their families.

Location and facilities[edit]

Facilities are located in Erie, Corry, Girard, and Warren, PA; Residential group homes and adult day services are located in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions.


Erie, NW PA, Main Campus

Barber National Institute
100 Barber Place/136 East Ave
Erie, PA 16507

Philadelphia, SE PA

Barber National Institute
Two Falls Center Suite 900
3300 Henry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19129

Pittsburgh, SW PA

Barber National Institute
20 Emerson Lane
Bridgeville, PA 15017

Pittsburgh, SW PA

Barber National Institute
35 Wilson Street, Suite 103
Pittsburgh, PA 15223

Corry, NW PA

Barber National Institute
670 Sciota Road
Corry, PA 16407

Girard, NW PA

Barber National Institute
1126 Lake Street
Girard, PA 16417

Warren, NW PA

Barber National Institute
Rural Autism Program
27 Hospital Drive
North Warren, PA 16365


External links[edit]