Buckhorn Children and Family Services is preparing for major upgrades, including campus and on-site school renovations, program expansions, and new projects that will benefit whole communities.
Reverend Ricky Creech, BCFS’s president and CEO, said his organization’s vision is to transform its aging facilities as it evolves into Kentucky’s go-to agency for the most severe child needs.
“That’s what this fundraising campaign’s about,” Creech said. “We want to be at a higher level, because that’s what these kids need. So, it’s not about just getting us through today — it’s about the future.”
A recent report from The Courier Journal revealed that the number of Kentucky children removed from homes because of abuse and neglect has reached the unprecedented number of more than 8,000. Those children, according to Creech, need more services than ever before, despite the fact that the amount of state funding for these programs is severely limited.
“Neither the government nor private childcare agencies can respond in total,” he noted. “The community needs to rally around these kids, too.”
However, if BCFS’s 2-year, $11 million capital campaign is successful, Creech said his agency will not only be able to meet regional needs in eastern Kentucky, but will also be able to address child welfare issues that other children’s homes across the state are simply not prepared to handle.
Beginning Sept. 8, BCFS will publicly launch its “Stand Up for Buckhorn” campaign to revitalize its campuses in Buckhorn and Pine Ridge, including its two schools, and to set up endowments to support its long-term strategic plan and vision.
“If we don’t stand up for these kids, who will?” Creech said. “It’s not only going to take me and my staff standing up on behalf of this agency, but it’s also going to take people who are passionate about kids and who are willing to be a voice for them.”
Creech, a native of South Carolina, was recruited by Community Care Development and Management Inc., a local business management and development company, to lead BCFS to future growth and sustainment.
According to Creech, the capital campaign is designed to “transfigure” the over-a-century-old institution.
If they reach their goal, Creech said BCFS will use $6 million of the raised funds to renovate and modernize campus facilities and technology. He said the rest will be used to create an endowment for an Appalachian Institute of Specialized Services for Children and Families, which will offer expanded outpatient services to local communities and a fund for continuing education for BCFS staff.
“When you work with kids who come from poverty, who’ve been abused and neglected, you need to bring them into a place that is clearly different and a place of means,” Creech said.
“And when you talk of Buckhorn, it’s not just an agency that focuses on southeastern Kentucky anymore,” Creech added. “Our pool of clients comes from across the Commonwealth, so we have a major interest in every county in the state.”
BCFS now includes three campuses in the state of Kentucky — children’s homes in Buckhorn and Pine Ridge (Dessie Scott) and a program for developmentally delayed and intellectually disabled children in Beattyville.
Beyond the campaign, Creech and his staff also have plans to renovate the on-campus schools on their Buckhorn and Dessie Scott campuses, making them centers of innovation.
Also, the agency has recently added an expanded therapeutic recreation program, two new trauma cottages, and has plans for a wilderness camp, redesigned gymnasiums, after-school programs, and a summer camp, all of which are open to parents and kids in surrounding communities.
“And they don’t have to be in any trouble,” Creech explained. “It’s just that we want to do something for kids in this area, because there are so little activities for them.”
He continued, “When it comes to at-risk kids, we’re not going to give up on any kid. We’re here for Kentucky’s kids, but at the same time, we’re in a place with limited resources. It’s going to take philanthropists, churches, and volunteers from across Appalachian Kentucky and the state to help us serve these kids.” Ricky Creech, BCFS President/CEO