Idaho expands mental healthcare for children and youth with complex needs

DHW Communications

Idaho’s children and youth with complex mental health needs will be better served thanks to $15 million in grants awarded in December 2022.

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

The Department of Health and Welfare awarded the grants to three partners that can serve different parts of Idaho. They are the Idaho Youth Ranch in southwest Idaho, Northwest Children’s Home in north Idaho, and Jackson House in east Idaho. The new facilities will provide 80 or more beds for children who need this level of treatment.

“This level of mental healthcare does not currently exist in Idaho, so these three facilities will fill a critical gap in our continuum of care for children and youth,” said DHW Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds. “Previously, around 100 kids were getting treatment in other states because we didn’t have these services available in Idaho.”

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

During those sessions, stakeholders stressed patient safety as a key concern. They also asked about age limitations, whether Idaho patients would be prioritized, and how PRTFs could work with nearby states.

With that feedback in hand, an application process involving multiple state agencies resulted in the selection of the three recipients to establish new PRTF facilities in Idaho.

“DHW is confident these strong partnerships will further Idaho’s ability to serve children with complex mental health diagnoses in Idaho,” Edmunds said. “This will also reduce the need for children to leave the state for care we simply didn’t offer.”

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