Bellewood Handling Financial Battles as Agency Grows Older
Bowling Green Daily News | February 27, 2012
Bellewood Home for Children is reaching a milestone but is facing a challenge.
The statewide, nonprofit agency, which provides care, education and support to children and families who have experienced abuse and homelessness, is marking 163 years of service this week.
But as the organization grows – and grows older – it’s having to do more with less.
“The needs are greater,” said Kristy Watt, director of community-based services for Bellewood. “We’re seeing kids that are coming in with a lot more complex issues, even more than five years ago, yet our services are limited. We’re having to provide a lot more service for a lot less.”
Bellewood was founded in 1849 in Louisville as an organization to care for orphaned children, and that mission has evolved.
Watt said for a long time the practice in child care was to remove children from bad environments and provide care in a residential, campus-style setting. Now, the organization focuses on keeping the family together and doing what it can to teach parents and children how to handle difficult situations they might face, Watt said.
Bellewood began offering foster care services across in the state in 2008. When it started, 16 families were participating. At the end of fiscal year 2010-11, 207 families were involved, according to information provided by Bellewood.
“Our tagline is ‘Changing lives, building futures,’ ” Watt said. “I would say that’s what we do. We strive to make relationships, which in turn fosters the ability to change the people we serve.”
Bellewood also provides support services to youth who have aged out of the state’s child-care system at 18 years old but still need support and guidance.
Watt said it’s Bellewood’s goal to continue to educate kids on the advantage of “re-committing,” because they often don’t understand the advantages or don’t have the social support network and without assistance can end up homeless.
As it stands, Kids Count, by looking at results of the American Community Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau, estimated that between 2006 and 2010, 13 percent of the state’s children lived in areas where the poverty rate is 30 percent or higher.
Watt said since joining the agency five years ago, the agency now has a large therapeutic foster care program, which started in Bowling Green, where Bellewood has had offices since 1992.
Watt said Bellewood remains very much a nonprofit agency.
“What we don’t make up in fundraising is a loss for us,” Watt said.
And as for the future, Watt said the agency will always be in need of quality foster parents for children in need.