State data shows that 42 Maine children are living outside the state, receiving treatment they can't access in Maine.
The Bangor Daily News reports that the state wants to fill in the gaps with proposed psychiatric residential treatment facilities for children and teenagers with intensive mental health needs.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration last month released proposed regulations governing psychiatric residences that would be a step-down from psychiatric hospitals.
The facilities would cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Advocates have long pushed for individuals to receive care in communities, not institutions.
Maine DHHS spokeswoman Emily Spencer said the department doesn't plan to seek providers through a competitive bidding process.
Maine has 330 residential treatment beds for kids with mental illness, autism and intellectual disabilities but they're either filled or unavailable.