Guests interact with therapeutic tools on display at PUCK Open House January 2020
Pictured above: Officers of the Bennington Police Department and the staff of Youth and Family Services at UCS, interact and learn about PUCK’s offerings at the PUCK Open House in January 2020.

Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids (PUCK) is an innovative concept in action in Bennington County, Vermont. It serves as a safe alternative crisis intervention site for schoolchildren who are in mental or psychological distress at school to keep them out of the emergency department.

PUCK had a soft opening in late 2019, serving elementary-aged children. They expanded the age of children served on February 1, 2020 to include middle school. When PUCK reopened after a pause due to COVID-19 from March 20, 2020 to April 20, 2020, they increased the age served up to 18 years old. PUCK reported an uptick in the number of calls and usage of PUCK by teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monument School was the pilot location for this project and reports a significant cost savings related to children in crisis receiving appropriate care and intervention at PUCK instead of teachers, administrators, and/or the police accompanying them to the emergency department before PUCK was established.

PUCK is a joint effort of United Counseling Service (UCS) & Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) and was funded by OneCare’s Innovation Fund.

To learn more about UCS, visit: To learn more about Southwestern Vermont Health Care, visit

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