Kentucky has a profound track record when it comes to taking care of its children. Among our library of accomplishments, we held first place in 2009 for the highest death rate from child abuse and neglect. We don’t seem to want to relinquish this title either because currently every 8 minutes a child in this state is the reported victim of some form of abuse.
It seems much easier to turn a blind eye on disturbing statistics such as these, but one long-standing nonprofit is taking a successful, proactive approach toward improving childcare – and parents in Owensboro are right there with it.
Bellewood Home for Children has been providing care to abused and homeless youth since it began in 1849 as a small orphanage. Now, more than a century and a half later, Bellewood is a statewide agency with a multitude of services to children and young adults who have experienced abuse and neglect is the worst ways.
“Our young people have been through unimaginable events by the time they get to us,” Bellewood President and CEO, Jerry Cantrell, says. “But our mission is to reclaim them, educate them and empower them to live as self-sufficient adults who have overcome the barriers of their past.”
One of Bellewood’s services is a highly successful therapeutic foster care program, which has spread throughout Owensboro and Western Kentucky, equipping parents with the tools they need to meet every obstacle.
Tackling a challenge is part of every parent’s life, but as a foster parent, the challenges often increase because of the emotional baggage a child brings inside the home. Bellewood’s innovative program is designed to help every parent manage each challenge successfully.
What makes Bellewood’s program different from traditional foster care is the purposeful planning and ongoing support it gives its parents. Financial assistance is about as far as most agencies go, but Bellewood offers parental training and preparation long before a child even enters the home. Continued guidance, therapy sessions and individualized services are also part of the package.
Rhondalyn Randolph is a single mother in Owensboro and believes foster parenting is an opportunity to make a positive impact in a child and the community.
“What I’ve learned about foster parenting is that one individual can make a big difference,” Rhondalyn says. “The smallest accomplishments can inspire a person to tackle other challenge.”
Since Bellewood’s therapeutic foster program began in 2008, more than 370 youth have been placed in homes. In Owensboro, 35 homes have been a part of the program, which continues to go across the state.
Keith and Patricia Satterfield are parents in one of those homes, preparing for the adoption of two children after foster parenting for more than a year.
“We never expected to adopt our girls,” Patricia admits. “And Bellewood’s staff has gone above and beyond for our family.”
Going beyond the limit is part of Bellewood’s mission for young people who have been abused and abandoned. Their programs are turning Kentucky’s track record around, and foster parents in Owensboro are needed to help.