WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A Williamson County nonprofit has partnered with the county to bring in more mental health support services.
On April 21, Bluebonnet Trails will open the county’s first youth respite center, which will provide mental health support services for children.
Bluebonnet’s current facility in Round Rock has been undergoing a restoration for months to prepare for the 16-bed facility.
It’s a resource one Georgetown family plans to take advantage of.
“He gets equine therapy, he gets breather therapy and community life skills therapy,” said Sofie Coronado.
When Coronado’s son ended up in crisis two years ago, she and her family were left feeling overwhelmed.
“I was feeling desperate at times like, ‘Where can I take him? What can I do?'” said Coronado.
The Coronado family found Bluebonnet Trails, which connected them to the Texas Health and Human Service’s program called YES Waiver. It’s a Medicaid program that helps children and youth with serious mental, emotional and behavioral difficulties.
It took roughly six to nine months to apply, get accepted and get connected to the organization’s services.
“Bluebonnet Trails, by doing that, they make the calls, find the therapist and set up the appointments,” said Coronado. “When you’re struggling, you’re like, ‘I can’t do this; I can’t make one more call.'”
In a couple of weeks, Bluebonnet Trails will launch its second phase in a continuum of care for children.
“Everything is coming into place for opening day,” said Mike Maples, Bluebonnet Trails chief health programs officer. “It’s a needed service. We had a single parent that ended up in a car wreck, and that kid had nowhere to go. This facility would fill the gap while his parent healed. Because the child had special needs, this facility would be designed to keep him from going into a hospital or somewhere that wouldn’t have been appropriate.”
The respite center, which will be located inside the Bluebonnet Trails Round Rock center, will serve children ages five to 17.
“We will certainly look for planned admissions, but if our mobile crisis team encounters a family in need of services, they will be referred, and we can admit them 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as little as hours to up to thirty days,” said Maples.
It’s a facility the Coronado family said would have been helpful during their sons initial time of crisis.
“When we started this, that would have been a godsend. That’s what we needed. He would have somebody to hear him and could calm him while we were calming ourselves,” said Coronado. “He would have somewhere that he knows he’s not in trouble, and he’s not being held in a hospital. We went to a hospital as a need, but in a child’s eyes, he just wants to come home.”
Williamson County leaders are pouring roughly $22 million in leftover federal pandemic funds into the county’s mental health services.
On April 6, the county will also open a mental health drop-off center for people coming into the justice system with mental health issues. The goal is to keep people out of the jail system who may not need to be there.
County commissioners approved the money during a August 2021 meeting to pay for both the respite and diversion center. There are two funds commissioners are pulling from for the programs, which are the CARES Act and American Recovery Funds granted during the COVID-19 pandemic.