Peninsula Behavioral Health is preparing to open its Youth Services Center, which will allow children to have a space dedicated to them. An open house is set for Wednesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula Behavioral Health is preparing to open its Youth Services Center, which will allow children to have a space dedicated to them. An open house is set for Wednesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula Behavioral Health to open new youth services center

Public invited to see it Wednesday

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula Behavioral Health is ready to show off its new Youth Services Center, which will allow children to have their own space and free up much-needed space in its main building.

“What’s happening now is kids are mixed in also with adults and it’s hard for them,” said Children and Family Services Supervisor Carla Grace.

“Having their own space is a really big factor so they don’t feel intimidated. Sometimes they are hesitating to come to therapy, so it’s nice that it will be more welcoming and tailored to them.”

Staff serving children at PBH are getting ready to move over to the new facility on Monday and are preparing to show off the facility and to thank the public for its support.

It is hosting its “Lemonade and Lemon Drops” open house Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Youth Services Center, 112 A E. Eighth St.

Development Associate Jessica Hackett said PBH will be unveiling an art piece to thank donors as PBH “celebrates the transformation of our lemon into this beautiful space.”

PBH currently has 19 staff in Children and Family Services and saw 900 youth last year, about 200 more than in 2017.

The reception area of Peninsula Behavioral Health’s new Youth Services Center, which is expected to open soon. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The reception area of Peninsula Behavioral Health’s new Youth Services Center, which is expected to open soon. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Many young people seen at PBH are part of the foster care system, involved in the juvenile court system, are grieving the loss of a family member or have a disorder, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The newly-renovated facility features child-size drinking fountains, sinks, toilets and has a new playroom. The new playroom is designed in a way that will allow kids to better express themselves, officials said.

Grace said unlike adults, children don’t have the words needed to verbalize how they’re feeling, so therapists will have them express themselves through play.

“They’ll set up a story about what represents a good day or a sad day,” Grace said. “We’re looking at what things they pick first, if they put themselves in the scene or don’t. How do they set it up? It’s very helpful in working with them.”

The move to the former St. Vincent de Paul building — across the parking lot from the main office — will free up four of the 60 offices in PBH’s 26,000 square-foot Port Angeles office at 118 E. Eighth St. Some staff had been doubling up on offices and the children’s team has grown so much recently that not everyone fits in the retrofitted building.

PBH will continue with the state-mandated Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) program, which is a team-based approach to provide services and is available to eligible youth younger than 21 who experience complex behavioral health needs.

The WISe teams include a clinician, adult peer partner, family support specialist and a WISe clinical supervisor who work with a maximum of 10 children at a time.

Construction started on the building in September and officials had originally hoped to be in the children’s center at the start of the year, but there were some difficulties, said Development Coordinator Rebekah Miller.

“It’s been permit problem after permit problem and the whole thing has ended up costing us $300,000 more than it originally was,” Miller said. “By the time we got up and going supplies and materials were more expensive and subcontractors had gone on to other jobs.”

What was estimated to cost $950,000 ballooned to $1.26 million, she said.

The agency raised more than $500,000 in grants and private donations and had budgeted to spend $500,000 out of its reserves.

Some donors include the Albert and Helen Mangan Fund, First Federal Foundation, a gift to memorialize Mary Whitmore, the Crow Family, the Phillips Memorial Fund and an anonymous gift from a board member couple.

PBH is continuing to accept donations to support the project.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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