RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – In Wake County, there is no place to temporarily house teens in the foster care system who need heightened behavioral health care.

This has led to kids seeking care in office buildings and emergency departments, Sheila Donaldson, the co-interim director for child welfare in the county said.

“Are these children really better off from our intervention?” Donaldson asked. “And what we’re seeing when children are in our building or they’re sitting in the emergency department, they’re not better off.”

This week, Wake County leaders approved $2 million to fund three new transitional homes for children 12-17 years of age who need residential mental health or substance abuse care for up to 90 days.

“We have increasingly noted youth who are having mental health needs,” Donaldson said.

Each home will have 18 beds.

The county is partnering with Alliance Health to oversee the care.

While good, Donaldson said the need goes beyond just three group homes, though.

Overall, Wake County has more than 500 children in foster care but only 90 licensed foster homes within the county.

“While this is an incredible opportunity, there also has to be a place for these children to transition to when they come out of these transitional homes,” Donaldson said.

The goal is to open the three transitional homes in the next calendar year.