Idaho expands in-state care for children and youth with complex mental health needs

March 28, 2023
By Ross Edmunds, Division of Behavioral Health

In his 2022 budget, Idaho Gov. Brad Little included $15 million to establish facilities called psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs). They provide children with inpatient psychiatric services that are not offered at Idaho’s existing facilities.

In December, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) awarded grants totaling $15 million to three partners that can serve different parts of Idaho. They are the Idaho Youth Ranch in southwest Idaho, Northwest Children’s Home in northern Idaho, and Jackson House in eastern Idaho. The new facilities will provide 80 or more beds for children who need this level of treatment.

What this means for Idahoans is that children and youth with complex mental health needs will receive care closer to their families. They’ll have someplace to go rather than being treated at a hospital emergency department or being sent to a treatment facility outside Idaho.

This level of mental healthcare doesn’t currently exist in Idaho, so these three new facilities will fill a critical gap in our system of care for children and youth. Previously, around 100 kids were getting treatment in other states because we didn’t have these service in Idaho.

The $15 million in earmarked funds were approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2022. DHW conducted a series of community stakeholder engagement sessions to clarify how best to meet the need.

We’re confident these partnerships will further Idaho’s ability to serve children with complex mental health diagnoses in Idaho. This will also reduce the need for children to leave the estate for care, and that will directly benefit Idaho families.

Ross Edmunds is administrator for the Division of Behavioral Health and has worked for DHW for 25 years.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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