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A Healing Place for Children

A Healing Place for Children
The Washburn Center for Children, a mental health center based in the Whittier neighborhood, is planning a major expansion and drafting plans for a new campus near the International Market Square on Glenwood Avenue.

The plan calls for a 50,000-square-foot building designed to be a state-of-the-art treatment center on a 2.5-acre site at Glenwood and Dupont avenues. Pending fundraising efforts, groundbreaking will be in 2013 with an opening planned for the following year, said Steve Lepinski, executive director of the Washburn Center for Children.

Washburn is in the midst of a $21 million capital campaign to raise money for the new facility. Currently, the center occupies about 27,000 square feet of space in two buildings on the 2400 block of Nicollet.

In recent years, the center has been growing at a fast pace. It serves about 2,500 children a year — an 81 percent increase in the number of children helped compared to 2005. The size of the agency has also doubled.

Washburn’s new building will serve an important need in the community and allow the treatment center to increase its capacity. The metro area has four major hospitals focused on children’s physical health, but no such place devoted to children’s mental health issues, Lepinski noted.

“Children’s mental health is a critical issue for our community,” he said. “Several hundred thousand kids have social and emotional behavioral problems that interfere with some aspect of their lives and keeps them from being happy and successful.…
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