DePelchin Children's Center closing Elkins residential treatment center in Houston, laying off dozens of employees

February 25, 2013 5:02:31 PM PST
A center that helps children and families near downtown Houston is closing in just a few weeks, and dozens of people will lose their jobs under the plan.

The DePelchin Children's Center is closing a building on its main Houston campus.

More than 40 people will lose their jobs and the closure, and some in the medical community say it is part of a much bigger national trend.

The Elkins residential treatment center is a nondescript building on the campus of the DePelchin's Childrens Center, and after years of providing 24-hour care and temporary residence to youths struggling with severe mental, emotional and behavioral issues, it's closing its doors and laying off staff.

Experts say the closure is part of a sad reality: residential treatment centers are too expensive to run.

"There has been a trend to get kids and adults out in community-based care. The parallel trend has been to reduce hospital stays," University of Houston Professor Dr. Carla Sharp said.

The administration at DePelchin declined to go on camera, but released this statement: "As the state moves toward a model of supporting more children in the home environment, we have decided to focus our efforts on the recruiting and training of additional loving foster families to care for children."

Though residential treatment is expensive to operate, Sharp says it's severely needed.

"With the move to more community-based care, there is a gap for kids who are in need of intensive services who end up falling through the system," she explained.

By April 20, DePelchin will lay off 44 full time employees, 13 part time employees and shut down the Elkins Residential Treatment Center.

"You need both, and we have to streamline services for families to navigate through that system," Sharp said.

DePelchin Children's Center says they will continue providing residential care at the Richmond residential treatment center.

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