Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) are psychiatric institutions that are designed to care for, treat and educate children whose problems are so severe and chronic that they require an environment that is supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While most youth can be served in their homes and communities, others have more complex issues and at times may pose a danger to themselves or others. RTC programs are designed to keep youth safe and ensure that they have the opportunity to develop positive skills and behavior.
Over the last few years the number of Maryland RTCs that are licensed by the Maryland Department of Health has decreased from ten to seven. At the same time, the state has severely restricted the placement of youth in out-of-state RTCs, while working to bring back to Maryland those youth who have been placed out-of-state. These changes have resulted in a tight supply of RTC beds.
The following are some facts about the Maryland RTCs that are licensed by the Department of Health:
- One facility is only for youth referred by the Department of Juvenile Services (Chesapeake Treatment Center) and one facility only serves younger children
ages 5-13 (St. Vincent’s Villa).
- Of the five other RTCs, three are private (Woodbine, Jefferson and the Eleanor and Berkeley Mann RTC) and two are operated by the state: the Regional
Institutes for Children and Adolescents (RICA Rockville and RICA Baltimore).
- All of the RTCs have their own schools. The private RTCs have non-public schools, the RICAs are attached to public schools.
- About 50% of the youth served by RTCs have been placed there by the Department of Social Services or the Department of Juvenile Services.
Ideally, stays in RTCs should be as short as safely possible. In most cases, youth should begin to re-integrate with their family and community soon after placement. Long-term stays in RTCs have been found to not produce more positive outcomes than shorter stays. A successful RTC placement will include step-down services that slowly fully integrate the youth back into their community with intensive services and supports.
Accessing placement for a child in a Residential Treatment Center can be a complicated and sometimes lengthy process – especially since so many Maryland RTCs are now at full capacity. Processes for placement vary depending on whether or not a family has private insurance or Medicaid, on whether or not the child has an IEP with a non-public school placement, and on the particular RTC. In order to be considered for placement, a youth must meet the “Medical Necessity Criteria,” which includes having had a psychiatric evaluation done in the last 30 days which states that a child needs RTC level of care.
If your child has been determined by a professional to require an RTC level of care, your next step should be to contact your local Core Service Agency or Local Behavioral Health Authority to get some direction on how to proceed to try to access a placement.
For additional support, connect to MCF Family Peer Support by calling 410-730-8267, press 1 or reach out via email.