Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters “Lighting the Way” for Children’s Mental Health

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters saw the number of mental health patient encounters grow by more than 600 percent between 2015 and 2021.

To address the growing youth mental health crisis, CHKD will open a children’s mental health hospital and outpatient center in Norfolk in 2022. It’s the first of its kind in the state.

To aid the effort, Hampton Roads Community Foundation awarded a $1 million grant over six years to CHKD, one of the largest grants in the foundation’s recent history.

“The hospital — coupled with broad community support for it — will have a transformational effect on the lives of children and families in the region and state,” said Deborah DiCroce, president and CEO of the community foundation. “It will put us on the map nationally at being at the forefront of addressing this critical issue of children’s mental health.”

Construction of the 14-story facility began in 2019. The $224 million tower will provide a full spectrum of mental health care for children, including outpatient therapy, inpatient rooms with sleeping accommodations for a parent, and a “partial hospitalization” program in which children will receive treatment during the day, and return home at night.

CHKD President and CEO Jim Dahling said that “The foundation’s leadership and support of our mental health initiative serve as a rallying cry for the community, as individuals, organizations, and businesses work together to bring these desperately needed services to our children.”

CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region.


Children’s mental wellness is a civic leadership initiative of the community foundation, and it has hosted forums, created resource libraries, and funded multiple community-based mental health programs. During the pandemic, mental health became even more important as children’s social and educational foundations shifted while families experienced financial and emotional hardships.

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