Northwood rescues children's day-treatment programming in Duluth

The children's mental health provider will take over programming from The Hills, which closes Friday.

File: The Hills Youth and Family Services
The Hills Youth and Family Services is located in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Duluth. (Jed Carlson / 2020 file / News Tribune)
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Another legacy provider of children’s services in Duluth is stepping in to fill a gap in treatment caused by this week’s closing of The Hills Youth and Family Services .

Northwood Children’s Services announced Thursday it will provide mental health day treatment for children once served by The Hills.

“We were concerned there were kids in need of intense mental health services who wouldn’t be getting them,” Northwood CEO Richard Wolleat told the News Tribune. “There was a need, we knew how to do it, and it was a good fit.”

Northwood’s rescue of The Hills’ outpatient mental health services means 40 children will be able to continue with their ongoing care beginning July 12. Nine employees from The Hills will also be joining Northwood.

"The first thing we did was meet with The Hills' staff and ask if they were committed with continuing to do this, because we needed them," Wolleat said. "Enthusiastically, to a person, they were."


The transitioning group of children will join a roster of 125 children currently enrolled in Northwood’s outpatient mental health programming.

Last week, Life House announced it would be taking over The Hills' Neighborhood Youth Services at the Washington Community Center in downtown Duluth, a youth drop-in site for tutoring, meals and activity programming.

“It’s tragic,” Wolleat said. “The Hills provided good service and programming for many years.”

Northwood is older even than the 112-year-old Hills, having been around since 1883.

In picking up the outpatient mental health component of services, Northwood is also taking on leases at Rockridge Academy in Duluth, the Essentia Wellness Center in Hermantown, and an afterschool site in Duluth's Denfeld neighborhood, increasing Northwood’s day treatment operations from six to nine sites in the community.

Northwood’s day treatment programs serve children throughout the Northland. It also operates psychiatric residential treatment facilities.

“We’ve learned a lot in almost 140 years of providing services to kids and families,” Wolleat said. “It became clear to us about 10 years ago that our vision as an organization was to operate a full continuum of intensive mental health programs, so we can do the right thing at the right time for families.”

Related Topics: DULUTH
Brady Slater is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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