Johnson County works to build a community of hope

Today leaders from government, courts , schools, nonprofits, philanthropies, businesses, law enforcement and elected officials came together to launch a new effort to improve the health, safety, education and well-being of vulnerable children and families in Johnson County.

Building Communities of Hope is based on a simple concept – that everyone has a role to play in ensuring our children have the opportunities to succeed in school and in life. But that we will struggle to provide those opportunities unless we work together in common vision and purpose to achieve those goals.

This new community initiative is being spearheaded by the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) in a partnership with the Model Family Court Program with support from Casey Family Programs, national nonprofit foundation.

Johnson County Judge Executive Tucker Daniel said, “We are excited about the partnership between DCBS and Casey Family Programs. With community support and engagement, I know that we can make Johnson County a better place for children and families.”

“To ensure that Johnson County is thriving well into the future, we must help our community’s most vulnerable youth and families today. We have many of the resources we need in our backyard to ensure that at-risk children grow up to be healthy and successful individuals,” said Judge Janie McKenzie Wells.

DCBS Commissioner Teresa James said Johnson County was selected for the partnership because of its model collaborations among judiciary and child welfare agencies. “To our staff and their partners, it is an honor to be part of bringing about changes in families — many of whom are their friends and neighbors. The Building Communities of Hope concept is one that Johnson County has already heartily embraced: When children have a need, this group joins resources and works to develop the services to help them.”

The goals of the proposed community initiative include: improving education and well-being outcomes for at-risk children and their families; preventing their involvement with the court system or entry into the foster care system; and strengthening families and providing services to at-risk children that help them remain in their home or return safely to their homes and community.

Children who experience foster care often face higher barriers than their peers. “It is our goal to engage, our community in an effort to assure the needs of our children are met. We have a great opportunity to assist at-risk children and their families in providing a network of support that will level the playing field for children in our county. We want them to have the same opportunities, educationally and otherwise, as their peers in not only our state, but also our country,” said Susan Howard, DCBS Administrator for the Eastern Mountain Region.

“We recognize that we cannot continue to view the well-being of children through the single lense of the child welfare system. We have a shared responsibility to create better futures for our children and we understand the importance of engaging a broad coalition of community members and organizations to makes that happen,” said Dr. Page Walley, Casey Family Programs’ Managing Director of Strategic Consulting.

Mayor Bob Porter said, “Everyone has a role in creating a community where children are safe from harm and the adults in their lives are supportive and invested in their happiness, well-being and future success. We have a long road ahead, but I am confident that if we can engage all people and organizations that touch the lives of children and families in our community, we will succeed.”

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