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Child Psych Beds Nowhere to Be Found in Charlottesville Area - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Child Psych Beds Nowhere to Be Found in Charlottesville Area

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Children who face mental crisis, at a stage where they’re dangerous to themselves or others, and need inpatient care won't find it in the Charlottesville area anytime soon.

A 2011 report from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services says one of the biggest gaps for kids is the lack of crisis care.

Claire Kaplan, who lives in Charlottesville, said she had nowhere to turn in her part of the state when her child threatened suicide.

“You are worried about your child who is struggling and you want to keep them alive,” Kaplan said.

Lori Wood, director of prevention services at Region Ten, said, “In our community there is not an inpatient treatment facility or a crisis stabilization center for adolescents and youth.”

The University of Virginia here has only 500 beds but only treats adults who pose a threat to themselves or others, and it's like that at other hospitals in central Virginia.

NBC29 uncovered a 2011 report, titled “A Plan for Community-Based Children’s Behavioral Health Services in Virginia,” through the Freedom of Information Act.  The report identifies the biggest gap in Virginia's healthcare as crisis stabilization. But rather than increase inpatient facilities, the report recommends more outpatient support, citing "restrictiveness and cost."

Less than a year ago, the lack of psych beds left Senator Creigh Deeds' son to spiral into violence, stabbing his father and killing himself. And none of the reforms that resulted are slated to increase psych beds for children.

“If the child were able to stay in the community in a crisis stabilization type of setting, it would be better for the child, better for the family, and better for the community,” Wood said.

Kaplan's child got the help she needed, but still worries for other children. “In this town with all of the resources we have here and with all of the mental health there is nothing for adolescents and children,” she said.

Mental health expert Richard Bonnie at UVA says mobile crisis units may fill the gap. But because of budgetary constraints, Bonnie also says that kind of progress may take years.

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