Thank you, Jefferson Circuit Judge James M. Shake, for helping ensure that young boys and girls, who require residential treatment due to abuse, neglect or emotional problems will continue to have a safe haven.
Shake’s decision to not allow for the youths’ eviction or ejection stems from a lawsuit by the city of Anchorage, an affluent community in northeast Jefferson County, against Bellewood Presbyterian Home for Children, where trauma-affected children are placed by social service officials with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Anchorage sought to block the center from accepting youths it deems too dangerous for the neighborhood, but Shake rejected Anchorage’s petition.
It’s the right decision and reflects compassion for the extreme abuse and hardship many of these children have suffered, and a commitment to continued care by staff at the facility, now called Uspiritus since a 2012 merger with Brooklawn.
The decision also ensures uninterrupted operations for a statewide network of private residential centers, many of them faith-based, that care for about 1,000 children in state care who need residential treatment. A ruling for Anchorage could have upended this continuum of care for these at-risk children. This is especially important, say child advocates who point out that there is no other system in place to care properly for these children.
It was doubtless a difficult case on both sides – Anchorage realizing the children need structured help and support, but wanting to protect the safety and security of its community, and Uspiritus, wanting to be a good neighbor, but also committed to providing the best care possible to these children. It’s the best decision for the children and absent evidence of genuine threat, we hope a livable decision for Anchorage.
Children at Uspiritus deserve the same chance as their counterparts in Anchorage – happy, healthy lives filled with meaningful relationships.