Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility, File Photo

The Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Essex is the state’s only locked juvenile mental health facility.

Emily Hawes, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) announced today that plans are moving forward for the construction a 16-bed secure, step-down recovery residence in Essex.

On Aug. 18, the Green Mountain Care Board approved the Certificate of Need that is required for the project to advance.


Step-down facilities provide care for those who are no longer in need of inpatient care in a hospital, but who still need intensive services in a secure setting that often exceed the capacity of community health providers. 

The new facility will be built on the site of the former Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, the state’s youth detention center that was permanently closed in October 2020.  The center will be demolished and replaced with the new adult facility. 

Currently, there are no other permanent, secure residential facilities, and associated services, like the one planned to be built in Essex. After Tropical Storm Irene flooded the Vermont State Hospital in 2011, the state used FEMA funding to erect a temporary facility in Middlesex, but it has outlived its lifespan. 

“A permanent secure program is a key component in Vermont’s system of care available to individuals needing 24/7 treatment and support services, including mental heath, physical health, and substance use,” said Commissioner Hawes. “This facility will be a state-wide resource for this level of care, regardless of ability to pay.” 

The new facility, which will be energy efficient, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

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