Tri-Cities District opens Pasco office, drawing ‘awesome’ review from mayor
Families dealing with a youth mental health crisis know that being wait-listed for treatment can be a harsh fact of life. That goes double in the Tri-Cities area.
There aren’t enough places in the Columbia Basin region of Eastern Washington for children and teens to find reliable care, let alone in an outpatient setting where they can stabilize safely at home without hospitalization. The COVID-19 pandemic further limited the options.
But LCS Northwest, a fixture in the Tri-Cities for nearly 60 years, shines as a beacon of hope for families at times when life might seem most hopeless. At the agency’s main office in Kennewick, an uplifting tone is set by the Hope Wall visible through glass windows facing the parking lot.
Now the agency has expanded its youth therapy, skill-building and peer support programs to a second location.
A new office in a fast-developing section of west Pasco opened to clients on Monday, April 4. A few days earlier, the agency hosted an open house where the mayor dropped by for a look.
“Awesome” is how Pasco Mayor Blanche Barajas summed up what she saw, after touring the 6,724-square-foot facility with Pasco Police Department Community Resource Officer Ray Aparicio.
“It’s going to help officers triage where to send young people in crisis,” the mayor said. She added that behavioral health is a “huge issue” for the community, but that authorities need options other than having to “put kids away.”
It will be nice to alleviate staff crowding in the Kennewick office, said Sharon Gentry, LCSNW’s Tri-Cities District Director. But the demand for services across the county line in Pasco was a driving force; she noted that of the 200-plus clients being served in Kennewick, between 30 and 40 have Pasco addresses.
“We have wanted to be more accessible to the youth and families whom we are here to serve,” Gentry said. “This new space will allow for LCS Tri-Cities to expand its reach into Franklin County and to support youth with complex needs and their families using the Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) approach.”
WISe is a family-centered, strengths-based model intended to lessen the need for out-of-home placements.
In Kennewick, the agency also operates SWIFT, a stabilization program for youth at risk of harming themselves or others. It features 24/7 crisis support, access to psychiatric evaluation and medication management as needed.
Gentry said LCSNW will look to add more critical services to support youth in Benton and Franklin Counties, a sprawling area of nearly 300,000 people.
The Pasco office was formerly occupied by a media production company. Conversion into therapeutic spaces was made possible by a $510,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.