Duval County is getting the only group home meant to help kids with severe mental health issues.
For the first time, Action News Jax got a tour of the Daniel Kids group home weeks before it opens.
There is a full kitchen where kids will learn how to cook and make their own meals and a laundry room where they will also learn skills that will transfer to life after they leave the group home.
Within months, the number of children on the waitlist for specialized therapeutic group care more than doubled in the state.
“Adolescents who have severe mental health issues that need residential mental health care,” Elizabeth Sizler, director at Daniels Kids, said.
There were 28 kids on the waitlist originally, but that number increased to more than 70.
“There’s a shortage of therapeutic group homes around the state so we needed to open one locally to provide for our kids,” Sizler said.
Daniel Kids stepped up and created a group home in Duval County.
The next closest group home is in St. Augustine.
“There was a request for action that was put out last year,” Sizler said.
The home can serve up to 12 kids at a time and is intended for kids ages 12-17 who have similar issues.
In staying at the home, they are able to stay close to their loved ones.
“We help them with that and improve their functioning and be able to function better in community at home and be successful,” Sizler said.
Sizler said the group home is different than others because although there is therapy within the facility, kids can also go off campus for various things.
“We make sure they get school attention, school in community, do recreational activities with them and get them involved and get that connection,” Sizler said.
The group home is set to open at the end of the month.
Daniel Kids still needs some items that can be donated such as a vacuum, broom, iron, microwave, blender, TV stand, Nair, nail clippers, dishwasher soap, disinfectant sprays and yoga mats.
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