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DSCYF to build adolescent diagnostic center and expand crisis beds with $16 million in ARPA funding

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Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media
DSCYF Secretary Josette Manning details how they will spend the ARPA funds.

As the coronavirus pandemic surged, so did a mental health crisis, particularly among youth.

“Let [this] one sink in. One in three high school students feeling persistently sad and hopeless,” Manning said.

DSCYF Secretary Josette Manning noted other alarming statistics, such as a 51% increase between 2019-2021 in the number of girls who ended up in the emergency room after a suicide attempt - and a 4% increase for boys.

On Tuesday, Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long announced a $16 million capital investment in the Department of Services for Youth, Children and their Families to build an adolescent diagnostic center and expansion of crisis beds on the DSCYF campus.

Hall-Long notes that while anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation is higher than ever in every zip code, solving it is a matter of equity.

“For children whose families who perhaps rely on medicaid or are uninsured, this is another incredible resource that the state is putting in place, such that they will have the opportunity for diagnostics, referral and treatment,” Hall-Long said.

Manning says uninsured and underinsured kids are the entire population they serve, and the need for crisis beds among them has increased. The beds are for kids that may not need a long-term treatment center, but are not ready to go home.

“That’s what this is for,” Manning said. “So we can access, stabilize, and find the next best place for them to go.”

Current capacity at DSCYF’s Terry Children’s Center is six crisis beds, and 10 residential beds for kids 12 and under, but Manning says the new center will have six residential beds and 10 crisis beds for any age.

She explains they are targeting the adolescent population, which displays the greatest need, and changing their programs to focus on diagnosing and stabilizing kids in crisis.

Manning said that while the staff at the Terry Center work very hard to make it warm and welcoming, it is a very old, cinderblock building and there is only so much they can do.

"The new facility will be state-of-the-art, with our Terry team ensuring every inch of it is designed in the most trauma-informed and clinically sound way,” she said.

This story has been updated to accurately reflect the staff and physical condition of the Terry Center.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.