‘Healing in the community’

LIHUE — For more than a decade, county leaders have been working toward a treatment and healing center for Kauai’s youth. On Thursday night, about 50 people gathered at the Lihue Civic Center for the unveiling of the draft environmental assessment of the proposed center.

“The center would service off-island children, but preference would be given to Kauai children,” said Theresa Koki, leader of Life’s Choices, the county entity proposing the facility. “Healing in the community is so important so they can face their (triggers) head on.”

The facility is planned to be an eight-bed residential facility for adolescents, with additional outpatient services and post-treatment services for clients, as well as their families.

The $5 million needed for construction has been dedicated by the Legislature, the county council has backed the center in a resolution, and Grove Farms has donated a five-acre parcel for the facility on Maako Road.

Youth in need of treatment would be referred to the center by parents, members of law enforcement, and their teachers or school administrators.

“As far as the Department of Education, every school has a referral process,” said Bill Arakaki, superintendent of Kauai Schools. “If there’s a concern expressed by the parent or at school, we will refer and check into the matter.”

According to Koki, it wouldn’t be a lockdown facility, but there will be security to “keep the kids and the community safe.”

Marcie Brown, who said she has a history of working with treatment for drug and alcohol in adolescents, said she thought the center is a great idea, but she hopes to see a component for families.

She also wondered if those in treatment would be able to seek spiritual guidance.

“Will there be an opportunity for the kids to have contact with their churches?” she asked.

Koki said the patients will have access to spiritual guidance as well as the opportunity for church visits.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. said it’s been a lot of work keeping the vision alive, but he and the administration are excited about the project.

“The bigger picture is that this healing center will be a facility that will heal our youth with their families,” Carvalho said.

The next steps are for Grove Farm to subdivide the 5-acre parcel out of their land for the county to use for the center, secure permits and complete the final design, complete construction, and then secure an operator for the facility.

Comments and questions on the draft environmental assessment are being accepted until Aug. 22 and can be emailed to jkirkpatrick@bchdesign.com.

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