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Psychiatric Care for Abused Children

October 24, 2002

Re "Troubled Home for Children May Close," Oct. 22:

Instead of replacing Los Angeles County's MacLaren Children's Center in El Monte with a facility of a lower level of care (e.g., a group home) it should be upgraded and specialized into an intermediate-level-of-care facility, specifically for abused and neglected children who suffer from psychological and psychiatric illness.

The length of stay should average one month, with placement in the community as the goal. This would avoid having these children stay in acute psychiatric hospitals (average length of stay, one week) for extra days or weeks while placements are made from the acute hospital.

How is this different from the way the MacLaren Center runs now? Only in the added funding, commitment and mission of specifically serving children with psychiatric illness, as opposed to being a shelter with minimal psychological support for these children.

A group home, while a needed resource, would not offer a needed transition from placement or hospital to another placement. There is a dearth of acute and sub-acute psychiatric services for children as it is.

Bernardo J. Mora MD

Rancho Palos Verdes

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