New children's mental health center for Minneapolis

Artist's rendering of the new Washburn Center
An artist's rendering of the new Washburn Center.
Courtesy Washburn Center

Politicians, government representatives and community members will participate in a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday for a new children's mental health center in north Minneapolis.

The Washburn Center for Children is replacing its existing building in south Minneapolis with a $24.5 million state-of-the-art facility. When finished, the new building will have more space and lots of natural light to create a healing environment for children with social, emotional or behavior problems.

The center still needs to raise $2.5 million for the project, which will be designed as a healing environment for children suffering from anxiety, abuse, depression and other conditions, executive director Steve Lepinski said.

"One, they're being robbed of a happy childhood," Lepinski said. "Two, their families are enormously stressed by the issues that are going on in the family. Most of these kids are not doing well in school; children's mental health issues really impede and impair learning."

The Washburn center serves about 2,700 children each year with its non-residential programs. Lepinski said most of his agency's clients live in Hennepin County.

Construction on the new building will get underway in September. It is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.

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