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Is your child in trouble? Or do you just want to belong? 3 new places in the Boise area offer help

Two new centers just opened in the Treasure Valley to help children and teens with serious emotional or behavioral problems, including one for Ada County youth who have been in trouble with the police.

And a third center, which provides children and teens from the Kuna area with “a fun, safe space and a stimulating environment where they can be who they are,” is on its way.

1. Help to stay away from juvenile justice and child welfare

A youth and family services center opened in Boise this month, with the goal of helping youth avoid incarceration.

The Bridge Youth and Family Resource Center provides “a single point of contact to keep youth away from the juvenile justice and child welfare systems,” according to an Ada County press release. The center is designed to screen children, refer them to community services and provide case management and support.

“In the past, law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals tried to get kids into the system to get help for them, but the formal juvenile justice system often results in poor outcomes for juveniles,” said Alison Tate, director of Ada County Juvenile Services in the press release. “Thanks to Governor Brad Little and the Ada County Commissioners Board, The Bridge is able to provide services to youth and families and prevent them from entering the system in the first place.”

The new home of the Bridge Youth and Family Resource Center is installed at 621 N. Liberty St. in Boise. “We thought purchasing a modular building was the best chance to complete it within the tight grant period,” the province said in a newsletter. “It was built in a local warehouse and lifted onto the foundation in July.”

Funding came from the Idaho Legislature, which allocated $6.5 million for “safe teen assessment centers” across the state.

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Members of the center’s Board of Directors include Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea, and officials from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Boise School District.

“Gone are the days of ‘scared straight,’ when children who had difficulty navigating adolescence, and who may have had challenging family lives or other issues, were introduced to prison life,” read a post on the county’s website. “It was a way to scare them and avoid a lifetime of incarceration. Years of research now show us that referring children to support services is the better way.”

The Bridge’s new location is at 621 N. Liberty St. The Bridge began serving youth and families in March in temporary offices at 400 N. Benjamin Lane, where the county houses its juvenile probation services and clinical programs.

2. Help with disorders and emotional or relational problems

The Idaho Youth Ranch has opened its healing and resilience residential center on the Youth Ranch’s rustic, 258-acre Hands of Promise campus near Caldwell.

Young patients can get help for depression and mood disorders, suicidal ideation and self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, attachment disorders, trauma, family conflict, unhealthy relationships, ADHD or other attention problems, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, and negative childhood experiences, says the Youth Ranch.

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The center, at 28371 El Paso Road, offers 64 bedrooms for children ages 11 to 17 from Idaho who need additional support beyond routine therapy, the nonprofit organization said in a press release. The center provides 24-hour nursing and psychiatric care and year-round training.

The center also includes a reception center, a dining and recreation room and a therapy and wellness building.

“This facility was designed from the ground up to meet the unique needs of the children,” said Spencer Merrick, the medical director, in the press release. “Every aspect of care, from therapies to nutrition, has been considered to give youth the best chance for long-term success.”

The Youth Ranch tells parents the center can help if a child:

  • No significant progress in outpatient therapy or other treatment,

  • Has recently been admitted for psychiatric treatment and needs more care than can be provided at home.

  • A mental illness that could endanger the safety of the child or others.

The center opened on August 15. The Youth Ranch said it raised $35 million for it, mostly from private donors, local businesses and foundations, and from a grant from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The center will employ more than 110 people, according to the Youth Ranch.

3. A place where Kuna children belong

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County are raising money for a new clubhouse in Kuna.

When complete, the 27,000-square-foot clubhouse on 3.25 acres of donated land will serve more than 1,200 children and teens up to age 18 each year, the Boys & Girls Clubs say.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County offer before and after school programs including sports, arts, academics, mentorship and more. According to the plans, the clubhouse is to include a gym, science, technology, engineering, arts and math room, teen center, tech lab, art room and cafeteria with complimentary meals.

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The $11 million project is being funded through a capital campaign that began with a $4 million principal grant from CS Beef Packers, which was driven in part by the need to increase childcare for its employees. The MJ Murdock Charitable Trust has just donated $375,000 to the campaign.

“With a growing youth population in Kuna, expanding the capacity of Ada County Boys & Girls Clubs is critical to meeting the needs of this community,” said Jeremy White, program director at the Murdock Trust, in a press release.

This is an architectural rendering of the proposed Boys & Girls Club in Kuna, which recently received a $375,000 donation from the Murdock Charitable Trust.

This is an architectural rendering of the proposed Boys & Girls Club in Kuna, which recently received a $375,000 donation from the Murdock Charitable Trust.

The Boys & Girls Clubs run their programs in Kuna from a classroom and old gym with no air conditioning. Only about 100 children can be served per day and there are no teen programs. Over the past 15 years, Kuna’s population has grown to over 26,000 people, of which about 11,000 are of school age.

In addition, 95% of the city’s residents work outside the city, which means many parents are away from home during the day, according to the club.

“We are the only after-school program in the city and have had a cap on it since the day we opened in 2008,” Colleen Braga, executive director of Ada County Boys & Girls Clubs, said in the press release.

The Boys & Girls Club also partners with Giraffe Laugh for on-site child care for children up to 5 years old.

The clubhouse is expected to be completed by the end of spring 2024. It is located just south of West Tern Drive, across the Teed Lateral from Butler Park, between School Avenue and Linder Road. The location is about half way between Kuna Middle School to the west and Kuna High School to the east.

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He is in prison, with no criminal conviction. Idaho placed him there for mental health care.

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