A first-of-its-kind real estate plan for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services received $107 million in additional funding Thursday, according to a news release from the department.
The funding, approved by the State Building Commission, will go toward designing new Woodland Hills and John S. Wilder youth development centers, as well as renovations and construction of assessment and intake facilities in each of the state’s three grand regions.
DCS will use $19 million of the approved funding to begin the design phase for the new Woodland Hills and John S. Wilder youth development centers. The new facilities will increase bed capacity by more than 150 across the state.
The new Wilder hardware-secure facility in Somerville will have 72 beds and the infrastructure to expand to 96 beds for future needs. The new Wilder staff-secure facility will have 24 beds with the ability to expand to 48.
The Woodland Hills staff-secure facility in Nashville will replace vacant buildings on the campus. It will include a 72-bed facility that can expand to 96 beds in the future.
At full capacity, the facilities will give DCS the ability to offer a total of 216 beds.
Approximately $88 million of the additional funding will go toward the conversion and construction of intake facilities and assessment centers across the state.
One assessment center and two intake facilities will be located in each of the state’s three grand regions (West, Middle, East) for a total of nine facilities. The assessment centers will each have 16 beds to house a child for up to 30 days. The intake facilities will welcome youth for short-term transitional stays with 12 beds as well as have offices for case managers and other DCS staff.
The centers will serve as crucial entry points for youth in need of immediate care and ensure best initial placement.
“This real estate plan will expedite the process of finding children their forever homes and create a home base for DCS staff for the very first time through the new intake and assessment facilities,” DCS Commissioner Margie Quin said in the news release.
DCS’s real estate expansion project is aimed at addressing the lack of placement options for children entering the care of the department. The plan will also enhance safety and security for youth and staff at DCS facilities across the state.