This past summer, the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) fast-tracked a private, for-profit “Dazzy Vance Mountain Retreat,” a 70-bed warehouse for children with mental health needs, ages 4 to 21. Dazzy Vance would have cost taxpayers $500 per day, per child — nearly $13 million per year. Thanks to your support, DHHR is pulling away from Dazzy Vance.
West Virginia has been under tremendous scrutiny for needlessly institutionalizing hundreds of children involved with its mental health and juvenile justice systems. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation found that the state violated federal law by segregating children in restrictive mental health facilities rather providing community-based, in-home treatment services.
The ACLU of WV launched a campaign against the facility and urged DHHR Secretary Bowling to reconsider her decision. We made Dazzy Vance a centerpiece of our participation in the Our Children, Our Future campaign. And we started a petition urging the governor to halt Dazzy Vance from going forward.
A day after the ACLU-WV met with Secretary Bowling to voice our concerns, Secretary Bowling told the company that DHHR has serious concerns about whether to send WV children there. This is nothing short of a major victory. It’s unlikely the facility will now go forward.
Instead of funding expensive institutions that don’t work, West Virginia should invest in community programs such as wraparound services, counseling and mentoring that are proven effective in helping children with mental health or behavioral issues. This upcoming session, the ACLU of WV will advocate for the state to invest in these programs, using the money it is poised to save as a result of last year’s juvenile justice reforms.
Thank you for all that you do! It matters.
ACLU of West Virginia