Educational Service Unit 13 (ESU 13) announces the award of a Sherwood Foundation grant that will support the establishment of Panhandle Beginnings Day Treatment/Day School (DT/DS) Facility in western Nebraska. The $2.1 million grant will be dispersed over five years and will provide funding for the initial startup and a portion of the operating expenses. ESU 13 is proud to be working with The Oregon Trail Community Foundation (OTCF) as the fiscal agent for this pilot project.

The ESU 13 pilot initiative will address the current gap in day treatment facilities available to youth with significant behavioral health concerns in the 11 counties forming the Panhandle. Panhandle Beginnings will serve as a therapeutic treatment and educational setting, providing youth with an individualized, educational and therapeutic environment that supports social-emotional awareness and promotes personal growth in a safe, healing environment. Specific services to be provided through the facility include day treatment, day school, and intensive outpatient program services to school age youth.

The need for a youth day treatment facility has been at the forefront of many ongoing local and statewide discussions, including many local schools, community organizations and leadership committees. ESU 13 Administrator Andrew Dick has been among those participating in these conversations and has recognized the need for collaboration and innovation to bring this youth focused higher level treatment to the Panhandle. “Our schools and communities are faced with increasing mental and behavioral health needs,” he said. “Local schools, community agencies and ESU 13 have worked to expand the scope of services available to support these youths, yet to this point these services have not included the higher level therapeutic care that this facility will be designed to provide. We have found tremendous support among local community and state leaders, and are particularly thankful for Senator John Stinner’s support of the pilot project. This opportunity is the result of this support and collaboration”.

ESU 13 Director of Behavior and Mental Health Katherine Carrizales echoes the need for this level of treatment within western Nebraska and highlights the state-wide benefit that could result from this pilot program.

“This project has been a focus of need for ESU 13 and our member school districts for several years. We are beyond excited for the opportunity to create this service in an effort address the specific needs of our western Nebraska youth, while also focused on how we can design this evidence based model in a way that allows replicability in other areas throughout Nebraska” she added.

Students referred for treatment at Panhandle Beginning will be determined appropriate for enrollment based on a comprehensive intake process implemented by the DT/DS treatment team. Youth will have or be eligible to be diagnosed with intensive emotional and behavioral conditions adversely impacting the youth’s daily living skills and ability to successfully participate in school – academically, behaviorally and socially.

For more information regarding ESU 13 and the range of services offered see the full website:

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