The $5.2 million Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents now under construction in Rockville represents "a very promising program" to provide educational and therapeutic help for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents from Montgomery and Frederick counties, according to Dr. Alp Karahasan, deputy director, Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration.
State and county officials discussed plans for the new institute at a meeting this week at the County Office Building in Rockville. About 40 people attended the meeting.
Construction on the state's third such regional institute began about five months ago and is scheduled for completion in spring, 1979. It is being financed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Located near Route 28 and Shady Grove Road in Rockville, the institute will have a capacity for 80 residents and 120 day students from 6 to 18 years old.
A satellite day school treatment facility of the institute is located in Frederick County for education and treatment of 15 youths from 6 to 12 years old. Children already are being screened for that program, which begins next month.
Emotionally handicapped youngsters in Prince George's County are served by the Cheltenham Center in Cheltenham, Md., which also is the regional center for St. Mary's, Charles, and Calvert counties. The state's first Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents is in Catonsville, and serves youngster in the Baltimore area.
The new Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents will offer what officials call a psycho-eductional program designed to meet the psychological and eductional needs of emotionally handicapped youngsters who cannot be educated in regular public schools.
The institute will provide for the study, evaluation, diagnosis, prescription, intensive care, highly specialized treatment and specialized education of emotionally disturbed youths.
Group, individual and play therapy will be part of the youth's regular school day. Emphasis for some students may be academic and for others, vocational.
The state has requested that the Montgomery County Health Department operate the institute. The Montgomery County Public Schools will be responsible for educational services and the Montgomery County Health Department holds responsibility for health services.
Although private and public agencies already provide some services for emotionally handicapped students in this area," existing programs are not enough to handle the problem," according to George Warner, children and adolescents coordinator of the Southern Maryland.
In the past, many emotionally handicapped young people have been sent away from home in order to attend school and get psychological help.
During the 1976-77 school year, 220 emotionally handicapped Montgomery County students had to be placed in special residential facilities outside of the county or state, according to Peter Ziebell of the Montgomery County Health Department, who is coordinating the new regional institute. In Frederick County, eight emotionally handicapped youngsters had to be sent away from their county or state during the last school year.
According to Carl Manwiller, director of pupil services in Frederick County, many emotionally handicapped children already enrolled in existing county programs "might more appropriately be served" at the new regional institute.
For both financial and philosophical reasons the State Dapartment of Education is moving away from placing emotionally handicapped children in facilities outside of their communities.
"The closer the child can be maintained to his family and friends, the easier it is to rehabilitate him," said Dr. Sanford Biene, assistant director of the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration.
The new facility is part of the five year plan of the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration "to have a regional center in each geographical area of state" in order to "provide service no farther than one hour away from any child in the state," Warner said.
The institute will rely strongly on public and private agencies in the Frederick and Montgomery County areas for supportive services. Those who are involved in the news regional institute say the intent of locating it in the community is an effort to avert and bringing of sending a child away and bringing him back to a community that might not be ready for him.
The new regional institute will probably begin taking its first students in July 1979, officials said. Children and adolescents will generally be referred by schools, juvenile services, state hospitals and other agencies.