(LEX 18) — Kentucky continuously does not rank well when it comes to issues like addiction and child abuse.
So, the state is teaming up with Volunteers of America to launch a new pilot program aimed to help these families and protect neglected and abused children.
It's called the Family Recovery Program, and it is being launched in Clay, Hardin, and Lincoln counties to start.
The program essentially builds safe alternatives to out-of-home placements. Often in substance use cases, kids are taken from the home and placed elsewhere. According to Volunteers of America, nearly 10,000 kids in Kentucky are currently in out-of-home placements. In Clay County, nearly ten percent of children are in out-of-home placements, and addiction contributed to, or was a risk factor, in about two-thirds of those cases.
And experts believe keeping the family together is more helpful.
"What I know as a social worker, what I know as a recovering addict and alcoholic is that it's really crucial - really crucial - to keep everyone who has been through the trauma and the illness of addiction together," said Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub. "So that recovery is also a family recovery, just like addiction is a family disease."
"People need to stay in the community. Services need to be provided in the community. Not in institutions," added Miranda-Straub.
Dr. Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, also expressed his support for the program on Tuesday.
"When it comes to supporting kids and families today more than ever, incremental change and gnawing at the edges simply will not cut it. [Tuesday's] announcement reminds us that the all too often missing element of innovation is achievable and is imperative to genuinely impact the tragedies of abuse, neglect, and addiction," Dr. Brooks said.
The University of Louisville's Kent School of Social Work will evaluate the pilot program's success. Depending on the outcomes, Kentucky hopes to offer it to all 120 counties.