That a state would have insufficient intensive residential care for children is more common than one would expect. South Carolina’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is desperate for access to psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) beds for children. That state’s PRTF beds are filled with children from other states, leaving little room for children from South Carolina and forcing the state’s DJJ to place children out-of-state.
The report is in The Post and Courier‘s “Acting DJJ director proposes $20M to fund rehabilitation facility for DJJ youth“.
At the Feb. 8 hearing, (DJJ acting director, Eden) Hendrick requested $20 million in funds to build a new (20-bed) facility designed by the Department of Mental Health for youth transferred from the juvenile justice center. But DJJ would not run the facility, as individuals considered “incarcerated” cannot receive Medicaid funds and would cost the agency upwards of $1,000 per day for youth admitted to the facility.
“Our PRTFs in South Carolina are becoming full of kids from outside the state,” said (director of the Department of Mental Health, Kenneth) Rogers.
“Kids that are much easier to take care of are getting these bed spaces,” said Hendrick.
Out-of-state PRTF placements typically occur for one of four primary reasons. First, a specialized treatment may be required that is only available in another state. (This happens, but not as often as one believes.) Second, a state may have too few PRTF beds available to meet the needs of the state’s children. Third, an out-of-state PRTF bed may be cheaper per day than an in-state bed. Fourth, no one challenges a child’s out-of-state placement to ensure she receives care closer to home and her family when it is possible.