COMMENTARY

Sunrise Children's Services: Fighting for Ky. children for 150 Years

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It all began in 1869 when women of the Ladies Aid Society of Walnut Street Baptist Church founded the Louisville Baptist Orphan’s Home on June 30 to embrace the orphans of the Civil War.

In the aftermath and carnage of this war emerged casualties of children without homes to live in, and without parents to love and care for them.

These ladies changed the lives of hurting children forever by demonstrating James 1:27 – the purest religion of all is to take care of the orphaned. And what a difference they made.

Now known as Sunrise Children’s Services, our statewide organization cares for “orphans of the living,” those who have become casualties of neglect, abandonment, and the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Through all 150 years, our mission has remained clear: providing care and hope for hurting families and children through Christ-centered ministries.

Current statistics paint an alarming picture. Kentucky has the third-highest drug overdose death rate in the United States, the second highest rate of parents incarcerated in the nation, and ranks as the worst state in the nation for child abuse. Kentucky also has a high prevalence of frequent mental distress (experiencing poor mental health on 14 or more days out of the past 30 days).

Substance abuse, incarceration, and mental health issues are just some reasons why Kentucky children are without parents, and why Sunrise must respond. And we have. Sunrise currently cares for more than 100 boys and girls in five therapeutic residential treatment centers. One treatment center is an all-girl facility; four house all boys. Woodlawn Center in Danville is a specialized program and is designated as a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, caring for boys with severe emotional and behavioral problems, ages 6-18.

Sunrise also provides professional care to families in crisis, therapeutic foster care, foster-to-adopt, and a proven transition program for those who have aged out of the foster care system, holding offices throughout the Commonwealth. Today, Sunrise’s census has surpassed 1,200 individuals statewide, responding to the nearly 10,000 youth currently in custody of the state because they’ve been removed from their homes to keep them safe and protected.

We have helped our Sunrise kids find healing, purpose, and loving homes, recently reaching 475 adoptions since the start of our foster-to-adopt program in 2006. We have also helped our kids find their eternal homes. During our last fiscal year, our ministry reported five rededications, 32 baptisms, and 40 professions of faith! We give God all the glory as we welcome these children into the Kingdom.

Will you join us in the fight to help bring life and hope to Kentucky children? We will not give up on our fight for Kentucky’s kids. We will not let drug addiction, poverty, and abuse win this current war on families. We are dedicated to changing the lives of hurting children even if it takes us another 150 years.

Dale Suttles is president of Sunrise Children’s Services.

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