County supervisors hope to give young people suffering a mental health crisis help right here in Loudoun, rather than sending them away for help, with a multi-departmental proposal to establish a new 12-bed Crisis Stabilization Center.
Director of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services Margaret Graham said her department’s number one need for youth is a stabilization unit for kids. Currently, children who need that service must be sent to other facilities around the state. The county already owns a suitable property, Graham said; with funding added to the next county budget during the Board of Supervisors meeting March 11, the department would issue a Request for Proposals to operate the facility, as well as hire a contract manager.
While that project is expected to cost $787,453 to get started, most of that—$580,000—will be funded by reallocating money from a number of human services departments, bringing the cost in the first year to $207,453.
“If we have a center in Loudoun, because their families are close by, because they’re’ in the community that they grew up in, because there can be transitions through home visits and still the school where they were going, it can make for shorter-term treatment, with a return home with that connection back to services and supports in their community,” Graham said.
The proposal garnered broad support on the board, with some supervisors lamenting how understaffed and underfunded mental health services have been in the past. Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said, “it sounds like it’s the type of innovative, leading-edge approach that I want to see from staff to try to get at an issue and provide a service that there is a need for.”
Supervisors voted to add that to the Fiscal Year 2022 budget 7-2, with Supervisors Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) opposed.
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Graham said they worry about the mental health problems that will become apparent as people emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For a year, the isolation, the grief, the fear and the transition that everyone in every community at every level has had to go through has to be worked out in the future,” Graham said. “I don’t currently have in my department a demand that exceeds my supply, and my teams are talking about it in their networks, across the networks where I do think some of this will need to come up as people venture back out.”
Supervisors also tacked on $149,890 to the budget to hire a public works project manager in the Department of General Services. That person will oversee county facility work like relocations, build-outs, renovations, space and furniture needs. That kind of work has increased as county buildings have been refitted to handle COVID-19 precautions.
Letourneau said he is concerned there is a backlog in that work, which gets in the way of the county delivering services.
“Maybe I’m extra sensitive because I serve on the Metro board, but I really want to avoid getting behind on maintenance,” Letourneau said. “That is bad, and you pay for it in the end.”
With supervisors’ votes so far, the next county real estate tax rate will be $1.01 per $100 of assessed value.