Home of Hope
St. Joseph Children’s Home Offers a Wide Range of Programs
Writer / Kelsey Schneider
Photographer / Falls City Photography
For more than a century and a half, St. Joseph Children’s Home has been a part of Louisville. One of the city’s oldest institutions, the home has been a fixture of the Crescent Hill community for generations, and is a hidden jewel of the city’s history. St. Joseph used to be located on Liberty Street, and in 1885 moved to its current, 70,000-square-foot location on Frankfort Avenue.
When St. Joseph was first established as an orphanage nearly two centuries ago, children most commonly lived at the home due to economic hardship, wartime or disease epidemics. Communications Director Christina Miller says the home has evolved to meet the current needs of the community. She says the children who reside at the home today were removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Once a case of abuse or neglect has been investigated by authorities, a child will be removed from their home and placed temporarily in the custody of a state social worker.
Christina says the state of Kentucky is number one in the nation for abuse and neglect.
“People don’t want to talk or think about children being abused, or who’ve been hurt and have nowhere to live,” Christina says. “It’s natural for people to avoid talking about uncomfortable topics unless they’ve gone through that experience themselves. So how do we get the community to care enough to at least sit down and listen? Kids are healing here but what we want most is to connect them with their forever family.”
In 2015 St. Joseph Children’s Home joined The Face It® movement, which seeks to end child abuse and neglect once and for all.
“We currently have three core programs – residential treatment, therapeutic foster care and adoption, and the child development center, which serves close to 350 children, infant to 21 years old, annually across programs,” Christina says.
The residential treatment program is home to 48 children who live on campus while waiting to be placed back into a home setting such as a foster home or a relative’s home. The children receive intensive individual and group therapy, and participate in an array of therapeutic activities like yoga, a bike club, and a hip hop dance class.
“Art therapy is huge here”, Christina says. “Mainly that just has to do with how your brain really copes with trauma at that age. A lot of our kids haven’t developed the brain structures or neuronal connections necessary to process trauma in a verbal way. Art is a nonverbal way to do that.”
St. Joe’s therapeutic foster care and adoption program is aimed at providing safe and loving homes for children in need. The driving force behind the program is to find kids their forever, adoptive families, and St. Joe’s continues to have one of the highest rates of adoption in the state among private agencies.
“We provide our foster families with every level of support, from physical needs such as clothing or car seats to emotional needs,” Christina says.
The child development center (CDC) cares for children six weeks to five years old. The program is open to the community, and to St. Joseph Children’s Home foster families and staff. Kids can come in and be involved in early childhood education programs. Some of the CDC staff has been working at St. Joe’s for more than thirty years.
“What I want the community to know the most about St. Joe’s is that we remain a top leader in the state for taking care of children across our three programs,” Christina says. “We also give our kids across our programs what every human being deserves, and that’s safety and love. I think that’s beautiful. That’s really what we do best, and we hope to continue helping more kids. There’s big things coming down the pipe in our future and we’re excited to expand our reach further in the community.”
An annual St. Joe’s picnic – a tradition that dates all the way back to 1850 – is held every August.
“New families have been created at picnics,” Christina says. “Couples or individuals have come to the picnic, happened to talk to a volunteer at our foster care booth, got connected, and now have adopted children through our foster care and adoption program.”
St. Joseph Children’s Home depends on the generosity of the community to continue operating as a safe and loving place for children to thrive.
“Working with kids is my passion”, says Christina, who has a master’s degree in applied clinical psychology. “A lot of bad things that happen in this world happen because people are in pain. If I can at least help someone when they are young enough to heal from their pain, then maybe, just maybe, they will grow up to make a positive difference in the community.”
St. Joseph Children’s Home is located at 2823 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville. To learn more about St. Joseph Children’s Home, call 502-893-0241 and visit sjkids.org.