OP-ED

Sunrise, state have been good partners for decades

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During the last legislative session, Sunrise Children’s Services was commended in both chambers on its 150th anniversary.  Sunrise is one of several private religiously affiliated childcare agencies that work with the commonwealth.


Sunrise has long been an organization that makes a life-changing difference for children in Kentucky and that sometimes occurs even as a referral service to other religious and secular agencies. Through the love and compassion of this Christ-centered ministry, Sunrise has found ways to work through obstacles by being a referral agency. This has allowed Sunrise to maintain a cooperative working relationship with every administration in Frankfort for the good of Kentucky’s children and families for more than 50 years.


In a recent case in the U.S. Court of Appeals, the opinion included a reference to the good work that Sunrise has done and how legislators commended it for the long service to the state.  Private agencies, like Sunrise, do not count as state actors but are only under contract with the state.


The appellate court, quoting the Kentucky Senate, wrote: “Sunrise, a private Christian organization that 'has been at the forefront in the fight to protect Kentucky’s children since June 30, 1869' and that continues to shoulder that flag today, is one of the Commonwealth’s 'oldest and largest childcare agencies, providing a full continuum of services for abused and neglected children.'” 


Every administration has recognized the value of Sunrise and its family of churches as part of the solution regarding the care of hurting children.  Legislators have long known the need for churches to join with them to help meet the overwhelming need for our most vulnerable citizens throughout the Commonwealth.  Yes, organizations like Sunrise have beliefs and convictions based on the Bible which ultimately drive the love and compassion that children so desperately need.


Sunrise is a residential center for hurting youth, a therapeutic foster care placement center, a therapeutic family services center, and also a referral agency.  Not everyone who comes to Sunrise is the best fit, but Sunrise lovingly refers them to the state of Kentucky. For example, Sunrise primarily recruits foster parents from the Commonwealth’s church body. Individuals or couples that have a lot to give but are not the best fit for Sunrise’s services are referred to the state’s foster care program. This referral service has helped the state serve children, and helped the individuals find a way to serve.  It is a win, win!


It has been the working relationship between Sunrise and the state that has proven to be an indispensable part of the solution to help children who have experienced traumas one can only imagine.  How about that, church and state coming together to show love and compassion for “the least of these.”  We think that’s a pretty good idea!

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