WILLISTON, N.D. — Western North Dakota will soon have the only state-funded residential adolescent treatment program in North Dakota.

Eckert Youth Homes in Williston was awarded a contract by the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division to provide the program to males and females ages 14 to 17 with addiction and co-occurring mental health issues.

“This award supports statewide efforts to increase access to needed services,” said Lacresha Graham, program administrator with the Behavioral Health Division. “The opening of this program aligns with the state’s goals of providing treatment that is needs-based and trauma-informed for adolescents while also supporting the entire family.”

Prior to 2013, adolescents could seek treatment at Grand Forks’ Children and Adolescent Treatment Services, funded by the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant. In 2013, the funding was transferred to Bismarck and Youth Residential Service was opened. When it closed in Jan. 2018, the state was left with no publicly funded addiction treatment program for teens.

Eckert will fill the gap it left when it begins accepting admissions by March 2, 2020. Until Eckert opens, Northeast Human Service Center has three available beds.

“We’re not a hospital level of care, but we’re a level of care below that where they live with us,” said Leah Hoffman, clinical director for Eckert Youth Homes. “It’s a residential program, so they receive their services — their addiction counseling and therapy — in house, and they also have a bed here. We provide all the board and care as well as meals and recreational activities.”

There are private providers in the state that are closer to Dickinson, including the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in Bismarck, Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte and Prairie Learning Center in Raleigh. However, private providers can be more costly, and as The Press has previously reported, cost can sometimes be a barrier to treatment.

Eckert Youth Homes will have the capacity to serve eight youth from anywhere in the state.

“The award of a contract to provide residential treatment services to Eckert Youth Homes is a positive step toward addressing the treatment needs of youth in North Dakota. I look forward to our continued collaborative efforts to expand behavioral health services in communities and rural areas, which currently have scarce resources to meet the urgent needs of families,” said Cathy Ferderer, juvenile court coordinator for the North Dakota court system.