Local leaders to host Volunteers of America town hall

Published 3:17 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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STANFORD – Lincoln County leaders will hold a town hall meeting Monday in Stanford featuring the Volunteers of America, a group dedicated to helping those battling addiction.

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VOA is a non-profit that has been operating programs and services throughout Kentucky for the past 126 years.

“We provide licensed and very professional services that have been proven to be effective at healing families who have been affected by substance abuse disorder,” said Jennifer Hancock, president and CEO of VOA Mid-States.

“Representative David Meade secured some funding in this last legislative session so that VOA could bring some comprehensive solutions to the community to address addiction,” Hancock said.

VOA is hoping to bring its many resources to Lincoln County.

Hancock said there are three main programs VOA can offer.

One program is a family recovery court that works in partnership with the local family court and allows families who are in the child welfare system because of substance use to access additional supportive services to help prevent unnecessary removal or reunite families who have been separated.

“The second program is a partnership with the Department of Community Based Services whereby VOA will provide a therapist who will work alongside the front line workers and provide training and consultation associated with substance abuse disorder,” Hancock said. “And then we will help assess families who have been identified as having addiction and will give them access to treatment…”

The third program is called a Freedom House Program.

“This is a nationally recognized comprehensive residential treatment program for women and their children,” Hancock said. “It is a long term program and it’s been proven to enable mom to deliver a healthy baby if she’s pregnant. It is highly effective in helping mom reunite with her kids and graduate from our program where she can return to the community as a contributing taxpayer and citizen where she’s working and going to school and being a positive part of the community.”

These programs aim to address some of the challenges that families affected by addiction face and to work in partnership with local community leaders and service providers so those in need have immediate access to care.

“We stay with them, as long as it takes, until they’re ready to be independent and stay in long term recovery,” Hancock said.

It’s a regional approach, she said.

“We are based in Clay County and serve the eight counties surrounding it,” Hancock said. “Then we will add Stanford and then we will add a program in northern Kentucky and one in Owensboro.”

Hancock said the organization does a comprehensive needs assessment to determine which communities could benefit most from VOA services.

“We do a needs assessment based on data from the Administrative Office of the Courts, we look at child welfare data and the numbers of families affected by addiction who are engaged with DCBS as well as overdose data and incarceration data associated with substance abuse disorder,” she said. “So we look at it county by county but we also know that this program is the only one in Kentucky, Freedom House is the only program in Kentucky that enables mom to bring all of her kids into treatment, regardless of the number of kids she has and regardless of their ages.”

For those reasons, the program is in high demand, Hancock said.

“…because more women of child-bearing age have been affected by substance abuse disorder, particularly during the pandemic we’ve seen this uptick in need,” she said. “That really drove lawmakers in Frankfort to consider expanding the financial support for this program, enabling us to regionalize this approach.”

Hancock said VOA is excited to expand its services into communities like Lincoln County.

“We are really honored and excited about developing partnerships on the ground to replicate the success we’ve had in eastern Kentucky and the success we’ve had in Jefferson County,” she said.

VOA has a history of integrating into the local community.

“We’re going to hire local individuals and create nearly 20 job opportunities for the community,” Hancock said. “We have in our plan to develop an advisory council so that this will be locally led.”

VOA aims to be transparent about the outcomes of its programs, she said.

“We are very focused on being transparent about our outcomes; we are high-quality and high-touch and very accountable to delivering quality outcomes,” she said.

The public is invited to a town hall meeting with VOA, which will be held Monday, Aug. 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Historic L&N Depot and Museum in Stanford. The town hall will be hosted by State Rep. David Meade, Stanford Mayor Dalton Miller and Judge-Executive-Elect Woods Adams.