BUCKHORN — Negotiations between the management teams for Kentucky River Community Care and the Buckhorn Children’s Center have resulted in an agreement which administrators say will save the children’s center from a possible shut down, while also helping to actually expand services.
Buckhorn Children’s Center has for years served to help troubled youth at their campus in Perry County, but like many nonprofit organizations the center had been seeing financial hardships, noted CEO David Graves, who said these difficulties stem from deflated budgets at both the state and national level, along with fewer donations coming from individuals that are also feeling the crunch. As a result, the center’s doors could have closed in a matter of months prior to this agreement, Graves added.
This new collaboration with Kentucky River Community Care (KRCC), an organization that aims to improve the mental health and well-being of local residents, was made in an effort to assist in the center’s mission and will prevent that closure.
At the time Buckhorn and KRCC’s management team, Community Care Development and Management (CCDM), began talking about coming to an agreement, Graves said he was worried about just being able to pay employees in the coming weeks and months.
“It was really scary; it was down to the wire,” Graves said. “We were afraid we weren’t going to be able to meet our payroll and that we may have to close down some or all of our operations.”
Buckhorn Children’s Center is governed by the board of directors of the Presbyterian Child Welfare Agency. The board met with CCDM officials to create a mutually beneficial agreement to help keep the children’s center afloat during a difficult time.
The idea of collaborating instead of buying out entered the conversation, and both sides agreed this could have benefits for both KRCC and Buckhorn. “During the course of our negotiation, we started talking about a collaboration with them and they were excited about that possibility,” said Graves. “In less than six weeks we pulled it all together.”
Ivan Schell, board chairman for Buckhorn, said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon that he is excited about this agreement and what it could do for both agencies. For Buckhorn, it could mean added services.
“On October 27, 2012, the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Child Welfare Agency,Inc … approved a management contract with Community Care Development and Management, Inc. creating an historic strategic alliance,” Schell explained. “The advantages of this new alliance for Buckhorn include expansion of core programs and development of new programs responsive to the needs of the Appalachian region.”
The agreement means that not only will Buckhorn benefit from new programs and opportunities for the children at the center, but that CCDM will be able to use Buckhorn facilities and technology. “They really like the software that we are using to keep our patient records, and they have some need for some new programing space,” said Graves.
Graves added that the children’s center currently uses some of KRCC’s services, but this would expand and help them to not only continue to serve, but better serve the children with whom they work.
“The services that they provide and the services that we provide are very complimentary,” said Graves. “We had already been using their psychiatrist working with some of our children. That is only going to expand as we move forward here in the next few months.”
While mutually beneficial, this agreement does not mean that the two groups have combined, however. They are retaining their individual identities, but will be working closely together.
By remaining separate entities the tradition started back in 1902 at the Presbyterian campus in Buckhorn can continue. The center had been a school and evolved over the years to house and rehabilitate troubled youth, but always having the same mission to take care of and educate children.
“I think we need to reassure the public that Buckhorn will remain as a private nonprofit so we will maintain that heritage,” said Graves.
Graves will become a consultant under the agreement, and the management will be handled by a professional management team dedicated to making the most of both organizations and the collaboration between them.
Officials with Buckhorn Children’s Center are hopeful that this new partnership will expand their resources and help to refurbish and bring back to life some of their programs and facilities.
“I am delighted that with this new collaboration, Buckhorn Children and Family Services will expand programs, refurbish facilities on both the Dessie Scott campus in Wolfe County and the Buckhorn Children’s Campus in Perry County, and recruit additional foster homes throughout the region,” said Graves.
According to an official statement from the two parties, the announcement represents a committed effort of all parties to join together in the continued goal of improving lives.