DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Addiction and mental health issues are plaguing teenagers here at an alarming rate, Montgomery County counselors and juvenile court workers said Tuesday.
The concerns took center stage at Tuesday’s county commission work session when commissioners discussed plans to revamp a juvenile residential treatment center.
The county will spend $6.5 million renovating the Dora Lee Tate Center in Dayton’s Drexel neighborhood and turning it into the 40-bed Nicholas Residential Treatment Center.
Both health care and court workers said the upgrades come at a critical time.
“It’s a sad statement that we actually do have a significant need to have residential treatment services for younger and younger children in the community,” said Helen Jones-Kelley of the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services.
Longtime juvenile court administrative Judge Nick Kuntz said it’s not uncommon to see children as young as 12 struggling with addiction or mental illness.
“We see that there’s a shortage in their values system or a shortage in their support system and they don’t have much hope for their own success,” Judge Kuntz said.
The new Nicholas Residential Treatment Center will nearly double to amount of beds currently available to juveniles in the region, and Jones-Kelley said it will also provide one of the few residential spaces available for teen girls. It will also give patients work and visiting spaces, as well as a full-sized basketball court for recreation.
The design resulted from years of collaboration across the county and the collaborators hope the services will strengthen the community’s future.
Jones-Kelley said, “If we can get services there very early on, we’re going to have the likelihood of a successful treatment path and then we build strong adults who contribute to the system.”
The county expects final designs for the renovation by October or November of 2016. The new center expects to start accepting patients by 2019.