Montgomery County is looking to expand a residential treatment facility as opioid addiction grows among young people. BILL LACKEY/STAFFCHRIS STEWART / STAFF

County set to expand juvenile drug treatment center

Nicholas Center in Jefferson Twp. would grow from 22 to 40 beds, add programs for girls.

As the opioid crisis intensifies and ensnarls a growing number of ever-younger users, Montgomery County commissioners are expected to approve funding that will assist an expansion of a facility to treat juveniles of both sexes addicted to drugs.

The board is scheduled to hear about plans to expand the Frank W. Nicholas Residential Treatment Center for Youth. The project would increase capacity to 40 from 22 at the facility at 5581 Dayton-Liberty Rd. in Jefferson Twp. where currently only boys aged 11-17 are treated for drug use and behavioral disorders.

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“It’s probably the most significant investment we’ve made in the drug treatment world for juveniles in a long, long time,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, anticipating approval of the project the county is putting at least $519,540 into.

Commissioners already approved a $183,000 portion before revising an agreement with John Poe Architects.

The scope of the project, other partners, and total costs of the expansion should become clearer Tuesday.

Tim Nolan, the county’s budget director, and Eric Shafer, Montgomery County Juvenile Court assistant court administrator, will detail construction plans for commissioners during a 9:30 a.m. work session.

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Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi said last week that he sees 20 to 120 youth a week in his specialty drug court.

“I can tell you three years ago I never had a child in my court have a test positive for opioids,” he said. “It’s sad to say, it is no longer a shock to have a child testing positive for heroin, fentanyl. Probably 20 percent of the youth in my treatment program right now are abusing those kinds of drugs.”

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The Nicholas Residential Treatment Center currently consists of two cottages, which house dormitories, an education program area, kitchen and dining rooms, recreational space and administrative offices, according to the county. The youth are actively involved with Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Probation Services after adjudication of either misdemeanor or felony offenses.

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