Randy Yohe Published

Children’s Crisis Center Will Offer ‘Safe Haven’ Treatment

Maltreatment in childhood raises the risk of physical and mental health problems throughout life.

A proposed Children’s Crisis Center is intended to offer a safe alternative to the use of hospital emergency departments and hotel rooms for children experiencing a behavioral health crisis and who have been removed from their homes.

The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) plans to build the facility in Elkins, on the current site of the West Virginia Children’s Home.

The target population of the new center is children and youth under the age of 21. It is intended for young people that need to be urgently evaluated, stabilized, and then referred to the most appropriate level of care, including community and home-based services.

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said the center will offer a safe alternative to using hospital emergency rooms as crisis treatment facilities.

“We’ve had multiple instances of children being in emergency rooms of hospitals for days and even weeks and this needs to stop,” Crouch said.

The proposed facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will offer private patient rooms to provide services with stays up to 14 days. It will offer services that begin with initial triage and includes crisis assessment, stabilization and intervention, nursing assessment and intervention, psychiatric intervention, peer support, observation, ongoing assessment, and disposition and discharge planning.

“DHHR, out of sheer necessity, has had to have staff stay with children who are difficult to place and difficult to care for in hotel rooms due to the lack of an appropriate facility,” Crouch said. “We expect this facility to alleviate that need to provide the necessary and appropriate care and treatment of West Virginia’s youth.”

A request for proposal will be issued by DHHR for the construction of the new facility.