IDAHO FALLS — A $15 million grant is being used to build facilities for kids with complex mental health issues. These types of services are not offered by any existing facilities in Idaho.
The Department of Health and Welfare announced in a news release on March 27 that Idaho had been awarded the funds. Gov. Brad Little earmarked the funds to establish psychiatric residential treatment facilities throughout the state.
A PRTF isn’t a psychiatric hospital. Rather, it’s a residential treatment facility that can help children or youth with mental health conditions. Kids diagnosed with depression, anxiety, bipolar and other complex mental health issues can receive services that include family and individual therapies and medication management.
It is an “intense level of treatment,” Stahl said. “They would need to be severe enough that the child struggles to be successful in their homes and communities.”
Currently, Idaho families have to send their children to neighboring states to receive this level of care. The DHW estimates that 100 kids each year have to be sent to a different state for treatment, according to the news release.
The DHW split the grant between three companies that will serve different parts of Idaho, the news release said. The facilities will have a combined capacity of about 80 patients when completed.
Idaho Youth Ranch (western Idaho) will house about 64 patients.
Jackson House (Idaho Falls) will have a 24-patient capacity.
Northwest Children’s Home (northern Idaho) will be able to handle under 10 residents.
The new facilities, Stahl said, are not meant as acute care facilities like the Behavioral Health Center, nor are they meant for long-term placements. The goal is to provide services that allow the child or youth to return home.
The average stay would be anywhere between 90 to 120 days, according to Stahl.
“A placement could be shorter or longer and is based on the unique needs of each child or youth,” he said.
Kids between the ages of 7 and 17 will be eligible for admission into the new facilities. Children ages 7 to 12 will be housed separately from the older patients, Stahl said.
Idaho children would take priority over patients from neighboring states.
“One condition on receiving these funds was that the facilities are required to prioritize Idaho children or youth,” Stahl explained.
A location for the Idaho Falls facility hasn’t been identified yet, according to Stahl. They hope to have Jackson House ready to accept patients as soon as the summer 2024.
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