$6.5M youth treatment center moves forward

Montgomery County is a step closer to a new treatment center that could keep more children in the community who need inpatient substance and behavioral health treatment.

A $6.5 million project to expand an existing Jefferson Twp. facility is moving forward with most of the construction contracts expected to be awarded at the Feb. 27 meeting of the Montgomery County Commission.

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The county is paying $2.9 million toward the project, which calls for relocating the Frank W. Nicholas Residential Treatment Center for Youth, 5581 Dayton-Liberty Rd., into larger quarters at 593 Infirmary Road in Jefferson Twp.

County officials say there’s a shortage of inpatient treatment options in the area, particularly for girls. The Nicholas center only houses boys age 11 to 17.

The new center will have 40 beds — 18 more than the current facility — and have both girls and boys dorms.

Phil Miller, deputy director of facilities management for Montgomery County, said the project is still on track to be completed in early 2019. Pre-construction meetings should start next week.

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Opioid users are struggling with addiction at extremely young ages, according to the county. When the project was announced in July, Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi said he saw 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 at the time. “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.”

County officials also previously said they routinely send girls to open treatment beds as far away as Cincinnati, Akron or the Cleveland area.

Jewell Good, Children Services director, Montgomery County Job and Family Services, said at the time that her agency has on average 50 youth a month who require residential level of care. She said the anticipated project is a vital piece for the future success of youth battling drugs and their families.

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“It’s something we don’t currently have for this age group within the county lines,” Good said. “So it’s a big deal for these teenagers and their families to be able to be placed locally, get the attention they need, while keeping that family connection and the family involved in services.”

Once the move is complete in 2019, the Nicholas Residential Treatment Center will be demolished, according to the county.