Thanks to a $100,000 matching grant provided by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and two lead gifts from local philanthropists Jodi Bertholdt and Jerry Nichols, the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit Expansion has been fully funded.

The funds will cover the $250,000 construction costs that will double the capacity of the vital, life-saving services provided in the Children’s Crisis Unit. The plans call for enclosing the existing porch, adding and reconfiguring rooms, adding an additional bathroom and investing in additional security equipment. The result will be a three-bedroom unit, each with separate bathrooms, and a total of eight beds. The project is expected to be complete in November 2016.

Together, these donors have answered a tremendous need to ensure that children experiencing acute behavioral, emotional or psychiatric crises can be kept safe from immediate harm and, eventually, safely returned to their families, schools, and communities.

Each year, 300-400 children, primarily ages 10-17, spend time in the inpatient mental health unit that provides brief voluntary and involuntary evaluation and treatment for children experiencing a psychiatric crisis. These include suicidal thoughts, severe depression, anxiety, stress/trauma, auditory/visual hallucinations, bizarre or threatening behavior, or drug or alcohol addiction – at times the result of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Children who are in danger of harming themselves or others can be admitted to the Unit under the Baker Act law. The Center is the only designated Baker Act Receiving Facility in Collier County. Referrals for this vital safety net come from parents, law enforcement, hospitals, physicians, the school system, and other concerned parties. Children typically stay for three to four days and, depending upon each child’s unique needs, receive follow-up therapy on an outpatient basis at the Center, at home, or their school.

For the past five years, The Center has experienced a significant increase in demand for children’s services. The Children’s Crisis Unit was at or above capacity all too often. The number of days during the month when the unit exceeded four beds continued to increase throughout the year and at times there were as many as 11 children in the unit.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation creates grant partnerships with organizations that generate transformational results in human and social services, education, health and health care, and entrepreneurship. Their Board understood the fact that access to proper treatment and mental health services in Florida was desperately needed and for the first time funded a mental health project in the state of Florida.

Florida’s lack of community services strains acute care hospitals and emergency rooms. There have been 36 private community psychiatric hospital closings since 1992, reflecting a loss of 4,430 psychiatric and substance use beds. Crisis stabilization units are the most cost-effective alternatives to inpatient hospitalization for those suffering acute episodes. An average emergency room visit costs $2,887, while the average cost of a crisis stabilization bed in a behavioral health facility is under $400. Because the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and its Board are interested in funding responsible and efficient human and social services agencies that demonstrate effective use of their resources, the David Lawrence Center’s crisis unit project was a perfect fit.

Mary Beth Geier, The Schulze Family Foundation Region Coordinator, said, “The Schulze Family Foundation appreciates the various initiatives and services provided by the David Lawrence Centers .  Their expertise and interest in mental health, especially the mental health of the young people in the community, is a worthwhile endeavor that the foundation is proud to support. We are confident that their outcomes will positively impact the community and we look forward to working with DLC in the future.”

Early identification and treatment of mental illness has been demonstrated to show great short and long-term results in the areas of improved social comfort and academic performance; increased attendance in school; decreased involvement with the juvenile justice system; increased college admissions; and the increased ability to be gainfully employed as an adult.

David Lawrence Centers CEO Scott Burgess said, “It is our belief that the investments made in a child’s development are essential to them growing up into a happy, engaged, and productive adult. The support of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Jodi Bertholdt and Jerry Nichols will directly make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children and adolescents each year who have challenges that are unimaginable for us to fully comprehend. Their help is providing hope to children in great need, their families and our community as a whole. We are indebted to each of them for their investment in our mission and this critical expansion.”

Aug 29, 2016 | News

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