LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are kids in Kentucky with nowhere to go. It’s a problem folks who work with foster youth daily warn will persist unless more people step up to become foster parents.

What You Need To Know

  •  Those who work with foster youth say the state is in dire need of more foster parents

  •  A majority of foster youth awaiting placement are teenagers

  • Residential facilities like the Boys & Girls Haven and St. Joseph Children's Home are often full, unable to house any more foster youth
  • Anyone who is interested in becoming a foster parent can reach out for a no-pressure consultation to learn more

The Boys & Girls Haven has a residential facility to house older boys in the foster care system. Their stay at the facility is meant to be temporary. However, Leslie Bratcher, the clinical director of services, said lately the stays have been long. This is because there are more boys living there awaiting placement than there are foster families willing to take them in.

“In Kentucky, we have around 8,500 children in out-of-home care. Around 4,000 are teenagers,” said Bratcher. “It’s not always easy to say ‘yes, I want to take a teenager into my home’ or ‘I want to take a teenage boy into my home purposefully.’ It feels like sometimes we have the lost boys of Louisville who are living over in our residential facility that people don’t realize are waiting for homes.”

The residential facility is full, unable to house any more foster youth. The same is true at St. Joseph Children’s Home.

“It has become almost a crisis the number of kids in out-of-home care now, and the fact that we just don’t have enough families to meet the need,” said Lisa Barber Atwell of St. Joseph Children’s home.

She recruits, trains and provides support to foster families. Barber Atwell can provide realistic expectations, as she was a foster parent herself at one point.

“This is not easy,” said Barber Atwell. “It’s one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.”

Both Barber Atwell and Bratcher say a loving foster parent can change the course of a child’s life.

“Family should not be a privilege. These youth deserve a family just as much as anybody else,” said Bratcher.

She said if someone is interested in learning more about what becoming a foster parent would entail to reach out.

“We would just love for you to learn more about it and see if you can make a difference in the life of a child. I know it sounds corny, but it’s the reality. A family can make a complete difference in the lives of these children,” said Bratcher.

The Boys & Girls Haven offers resources to help prospective foster parents throughout their journey. You can find more information, including a form to inquire about becoming a foster parent on the organization’s website.

Another way to help the Boys & Girls Haven’s mission is by attending the 10th Annual Gravy Cup on Feb. 18 at the Mellwood Arts Center. Over 40 chefs will present their best gravy recipe to a panel of judges for a chance to win the grand champion title. The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon for regular admission, and 9 a.m. to noon for VIP guests. Tickets are available for purchase on the event’s website

At St. Joseph Children’s Home, Barber Atwell encourages anyone who has curiosity about becoming a foster parent, to reach out for a no-pressure consultation to learn more about what it would entail. You can reach out to her at lisab@sjkids.org or by calling 502-839-0241 extension 208.