Virginia relies on trouble-ridden UHS program because no other options are available

Posted on February 17, 2012


Excerpted from May 3, 2011 article, Report: Virginia lacks mental health services for kids. The Pines is owned by UHS.

Last week, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services suspended admissions to and downgraded the license of The Pines Residential Treatment Center’s three Hampton Roads-area facilities after a North Carolina boy’s claims of sexual abuse by another resident weren’t properly reported.

The agency said it was the latest of more than 150 investigations in the centers, which opened in 1986 and provide in-patient treatment for more than 400 youth. Agency spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said the department wanted to work with the center to correct the problems rather than shut it down because there are few options for residential mental health services for children.

Only one state-run facility remains open. Last year, more than 750 children cycled through the 48 beds at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents in Staunton.

“The fact that we rely so heavily on a facility that has had a history of problems and licensing violations and safety concerns for children just shows you how strained the system is — that if we had other community-based services for these kids we’d be using them,” Crowe said.