Free Catch the Spirit Tours August 16

Uspiritus, a non-profit organization helping kids and families heal, will host free Catch the Spirit Tours on Tuesday, Aug. 16. Choose the time and location convenient for you:

  • noon-1 p.m. in the Uspiritus-Bellewood Administration Building, 11103 Park Road in Anchorage, or
  • 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Uspiritus-Brooklawn Administration Building, 3121 Brooklawn Campus Drive

While you enjoy a delicious meal, find out more about our mission and services, and how you can kick up your involvement. A brief tour of campus is also offered.
Each session is free, but pre-registration is required by contacting Aimee Conrad-Hill at 502-753-5503 or aimee.conrad-hill@uspiritus.org. Please specify whether you would like to attend the noon or the 5:30 p.m. session.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood

By Slim Nash
Director of Community Based Services, Western Kentucky

A large component of the work we do with children and families involves educating them and encouraging them to change behaviors. Whether we are teaching coping skills, basic household management or parenting, our jobs involve influencing change in the lives of our clients.

Recently, a Diversion Case Manager in the Family Preservation and Diversion Program in the Bowling Green office faced a particular challenge as she provided services to a family whose value system did not match hers. The family had been referred due to concerns related to the teenager’s and parents’ drug use, including cultivating and selling marijuana. The family not only actively used marijuana, but also relied on the income generated from selling it.

While the family initially presented with much resistance to services and much suspicion regarding our role in “the system” they distrusted, the case manager approached the situation by first seeking to understand the family’s perspective. By investing the time to learn about a value system very different from her own, the case manager both learned about the family and developed a trusting relationship with them.

As the case progressed, she was also able to share with the family information about the concerns and risks associated with continuing their behaviors. At the end of the case, the family had obtained legal employment and they were passing all drug screens.

Six months following the end of their intervention, the family reached out to the case manager to notify her that they knew it was time for their follow-up and indicate they were eager to see her. You read that correctly — the family that was once resistant and suspicious took the initiative to contact the case manager about the six-month follow-up.

The adults are still gainfully employed and their case with Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) has been closed. Seeking first to understand their situation created an environment where resistance shifted to resilience and lasting change was able to occur.

Great things are happening at Uspiritus

By Abbreial Drane
Uspiritus President/CEO

Approximately 200 people came together at our March 16 breakfast not only to renew the spirit, but also to celebrate the spirit of the youth we serve — that strength of spirit that helps them defeat the toughest opponents and come out champions. As members of the Uspiritus team, we are privileged to see, celebrate and be rejuvenated by their spirit each and every day.

It’s 2016 and children no longer live out their lives in orphanages that are fully funded and overseen by the local and faith-based communities. Children no longer work the farm to pay for and provide the food they eat. Children no longer have the option of avoiding facing the pain that brought them to our care.

Yes, they come to us in some of the same ways they did 100 years ago — abandonment, abuse, neglect, poverty, loss of a parent. But today we provide life-saving psychological and psychiatric treatments to heal the wounds and provide hope long before the next generation is impacted.

Today we need the federal, state, foundations, individuals, and faith-based partners’ financial support to care for the children we serve.

I can report to you today that great things are happening at Uspiritus.

At last year’s breakfast, I promised that we were moving forward, removing barriers and having faith.

This year, Dr. David Finke and his team are building Uspiritus’ treatment program … one that I believe all Kentucky’s children should receive if placed in residential care. One built on evidence-based practices, research driven care, and trained trauma-informed staff at all levels.

We are expanding our relationship with the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work with practicum opportunities for master’s level students.

We’ve committed to joining community members for an Office of Juvenile Justice grant that will improve the identification, treatment and follow-up of youth at risk for human trafficking.

And, we have joined the parity team to improve trauma-informed practices in the juvenile and family courts.

Additionally, with financial help from a concerned parent/donor, we have begun the work of developing a comprehensive program for youth in transition to adulthood.

Doors have been opened a little wider at The University of Louisville’s Weiskoff Center, where children can receive evaluations, providing the roadmap for our therapists.

We’ve signed a covenant with our faith-based partners, opening pathways of support through prayer, volunteering and gifts.

Uspiritus also partners with Kentucky Youth Advocates and Children’s Alliance, and seeks to partner with all children’s service providers who are headed in the right direction of putting children first.

As you read this, you may think I’m proud of myself, but I’ll tell you I probably feel like my peers must from time to time. Most days, I feel as though I haven’t done enough.

Just a few weeks ago, I headed into the cafeteria to grab some lunch. I can usually walk through the tables full of children, passing out a hug, warm smile and sweet words to each child who calls my name to warm their day. But not this day. This day, one little girl took the hug and then, with a smile and joyful heart, asked me to adopt her.

I struggled with my answer, explaining that I wanted to adopt all of the children who live here and, if I did that, I couldn’t work anymore. I explained that I have two grown children of my own and three grandchildren.

She promised to be a good girl and help me around the house and care for my grandchildren. She held my arm and hoped for my positive response. I left her with hopes that those caring for her would find her a much better home, one with parents who could care for her, letting her be a child for once.

My answer was truthful but feels a bit lacking for one of faith. I’ve been the little girl wanting someone to just love me, take me home and let me be a child. It’s real to me.

I’ll always wonder if I can do more. I’ll always question what enough is. I only know that each of us must answer that question for ourselves.

As you consider that question, please think about what you can do each day to be a most valuable player for these kids. Thank you for all you do as a most valuable player on the Uspiritus team.

There is a great need for the work Uspiritus does

By Abbreial Drane, CPA, MBA
Uspiritus President/CEO

Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves why we do the work we do and just how many children need our help. The following is from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services describing foster care:

When children have experienced abuse or neglect and must be separated from their parents or other relatives, they are most often placed in the temporary and safe care of approved foster parents.

While children are in temporary foster care, the main goal of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is to reunify them with their birth parents as soon as the parents have received services to provide a safe and stable home. While working toward the goal of reunification, the child’s worker will complete a relative search and possibly place the child with relatives. The main focus is for children to have a permanent home, where they can be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

In some cases, children may not be able to be reunified with their parents or placed with relatives. The courts may terminate the parents’ rights and legally free the child for adoption. In many cases, foster parents choose to become the permanent and legal adoptive parents of children who have been in their foster homes. A temporary situation (foster care) then becomes a step forward to a permanent and lifelong commitment (adoption).

Why are children placed in foster care?

  • Some birth parents simply aren’t able to give appropriate physical and emotional care or appropriate supervision.
  • Some parents and some children can’t control their behaviors.
  • Some families have temporary crises, like health problems or loss of income and housing.
  • Some parents have serious parenting problems because of drug abuse, mental illness or other conditions.
  • Some birth parents voluntarily place their children for adoption.

How many Kentucky kids need foster care services? More than 7,500 children are currently in CHFS foster care and more than 900 of those children are in residential care. Last year, more than 700 children in CHFS foster care were adopted and more than 80 percent were adopted by their foster families.

Uspiritus is doing great work for children across the state with foster care, residential placements, family preservation and outpatient care services. There are many children who need our help. I’m glad children have a safe place like Uspiritus to help heal their hearts and minds.

Small steps result in big changes for a family

By Slim Nash
Director of Community Based Services, Western Kentucky

It is the time of year when many of us have made wonderful New Year’s resolutions and already shifted our focus to other things, allowing our hopes for change to fall by the wayside.

Often when we think about change, we think about the major changes we hope for and fail to recognize the small steps we have taken along the way that are still leading us toward our goals.

The case managers with the Family Preservation, Reunification and Diversion programs work daily to help families make changes and encourage them to notice the strengths they do have and the small steps they are taking toward their goals.

Recently, one of our case managers has been working with a family that is currently living in a motel in a very confined space. The single mother and her daughter have been referred to the program for assistance in obtaining more permanent housing and to increase the positive interactions between parent and child. These are big goals for a four-week intervention, but the case manager recently received the following feedback from his client:

“Someone must have switched children on me because this one looks like [my child] but is being very sweet.”

“Wait until you see how much better our room looks; so much better and we did it together!”

The case manager believes the operative word in the latter statement is “together.” The change occurred when Mom realized that being an Authoritarian or Permissive parent does not work. She became an Active Parent by utilizing empathy (listening to her child, allowing her child to participate in decisions, etc., and having consistent rules and fair consequences).

Recently, the case manager told the mom that her way of communicating was exacerbating her child’s anger. A few days later, Mom told him, “I never realized that I was whiny until you mentioned it. You’re a [explicative] genius!”

Today, the family is still living in a motel but has plans to move into assisted housing soon. They are confined in a small space that can hinder even the best relationships, but they have hope for their relationship and a commitment to improve it together. While the surface situation may appear the same to others, they have taken some very important small steps toward big change.