The Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children & Youth will break ground July 18 on a $15 million campus in Nicholasville for abused, neglected or abandoned children.
The program is moving from the Woodford County location where it has been since the 1930s. The new campus will feature residential facilities for 20 teens ages 12 to 17, paddocks for equine therapy and an on-campus school staffed by Jessamine County Schools alternative teachers, said Melinda Ryles-Smith, Vice President of Advancement. The new building will include offices for expanded community services.
“We are expanding,” Ryles-Smith said. “We are going to continue to do residential, but we have a vision for going into all the counties in the state, working with families in their homes and helping stabilize those homes so hopefully things don’t keep escalating where the child has to be removed. Sometimes it’s just a lack of resources.”
“For those children for whom removal is the best alternative, we will be able to provide a residential program in state-of-the-art facilities,” said Ryles-Smith.
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Methodist Home officials say that more than 47,000 Kentucky children are reported abused, neglected and abandoned each year. Of those, 7,000 are subsequently removed from their homes because of imminent danger. The Methodist Home program serves those families through both residential and community services. The programs offer a safe environment for the most severely abused and neglected, and independent living for those aging out of state custody who could otherwise be homeless.
“Our services include a variety of programs such as in-home crisis intervention services, independent living, home monitoring, youth substance abuse program, adoption,” and emergency residential, and residential treatment, said Ryles-Smith.
In 2012, the nonprofit corporation purchased 30-plus acres at 1115 Ashgrove Road in northern Jessamine County for $915,000 from David and Alta Marshall, according to Herald-Leader archives. The property is just south of Brannon Crossing shopping center off U.S. 27.
The children at the Methodist home are referred by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the family courts, and private referrals. They are treated for trauma related to the issues that caused their removal from their homes.
After spending four to nine months at the Methodist home, they go home if it’s safe, enter foster care, go to live with other relatives or transition to independent-living apartments in Lexington
The new campus will include:
▪ A 31,000-square-foot center that will provide housing, kitchen and dining, educational, therapeutic, medical, community services offices, and a full gymnasium space.
▪ Renovation of a historic home that will serve as administrative space
▪ A new 12,500-square-foot chapel and staff and community training center
▪ An Equine Therapy Complex with a six-stall horse barn and paddocks
▪ Outdoor Recreation Areas for softball , tennis, and basketball, nature walk trails and a lake
“Currently, we serve over 140 children on average per day ... ,” Ryles-Smith said. “This new facility will relocate 20 beds from our Versailles residential program. With expansion of our community services, we will significantly increase the number of children, serving hundreds more each year.”
Frontier Nursing University in Hyden will add another location by moving into the Methodist Homes’ current Versailles campus. The Methodist Home has 216 acres on U.S. 60 east of Versailles.
The Rev. Randy Coy, president and CEO of the Methodist home, has said that the home doesn’t need as much space as it currently has.
One of the primary factors in choosing Jessamine County was the school district’s “excellent” alternative school program, said Ryles-Smith. “Matt Moore, Assistant Superintendent of Jessamine County Public Schools, has worked closely with us helping plan the design and equipment for our on-campus school which will be staffed by Jessamine County Public School educators. “
The Methodist home has been in existence since 1871, when it started as an outreach to widows and orphans impacted by the Civil War. The home was originally in downtown Louisville but relocated to the farm in Woodford County in 1931, said Ryles-Smith.
In the 1970s, the home transitioned from an orphanage to a treatment facility. The 20 children who are on the Woodford campus are in group and individual therapy.
The new main building will put most services under one roof rather than spreading it out among a dozen buildings as it is in Woodford County. The money for the Jessamine purchase came from privately raised funds. The organization has started a capital campaign.
Additionally, when there is a fifth Sunday of a month, Methodist churches in Kentucky are encouraged to take an offering for the home. Those offerings generate about $1.5 million each year.
“It will be wonderful to have a new facility designed specifically to meet the complex needs of youth entrusted to our care,” Coy said. “However, what is even more exciting is the ways in which this move allows us to meet the future needs of hundreds of families across the commonwealth.”