CEO Chris Groeber and his associates at Key Assets in Mt. Sterling are seeking ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things – in other words, ideal foster parents.
Or foster carers, which is the preferred term at Key Assets, a new foster agency in Kentucky that works with the Department for Community Based Services to provide high quality foster care placement for children and youth with complex needs.
Key Assets is an inter-national company started in 1994 in England and now serves 11 countries.
Its first presence in the U.S. is the Mt. Sterling office, opened in April shortly after Groeber was hired in January.
Groeber, who has 25 years of experience in the field, earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky, where he also served on the faculty for seven years, launching the school’s Training Resource Center.
When he learned about Key Assets, he knew its approach was ideal for Eastern Kentucky, an underserved area with some of the poorest counties in the country.
A partnership was born.
Key Assets is the first agency in Kentucky to provide the trademarked Team Parenting technique based on a thera-peutic approach to foster care.
It supports the carer with a group – or team – of qualified professionals, who specialize in different fields.
An assigned therapist directs the team, where everyone is considered an expert – the “ists,” as Groeber calls the professionals, and especially the foster carer and the child.
“Everybody is an equal,” Groeber said. “Problems are put on the table and dealt with in an honest and pragmatic manner to help the family and the child.
“We also will include the birth parent when possible.”
The goal is to ensure that after a child is carefully matched with a foster family, all resources are used to help the child succeed at home, at school and in the community.
Too often children are removed not only from their home, but from their community.
“If a child is from Martin County (in Eastern Kentucky) and moved to Louisville, he might as well be put on the moon,” Groeber said.
“Growing up in families and in a community is natural. We want to keep children from Eastern Kentucky in their communities.”
So, Key Assets is looking for needles in haystacks – the right kind of family for older, difficult to place kids who through no fault of their own are on their own.
Eastern Kentucky needs more foster parents – and Groeber is convinced the families are out there.
Many are capable, he said, especially with the support provided in the Team Parenting model.
“We need parents who can say, ‘My heart is big enough, brave enough, and I’m willing to learn and have something to offer,’ Groeber said.
“We want to awaken extraordinary characteristics in ordinary people to build hopeful, safe, therapeutic environments.
“After all, it’s up to us – those kids are our kids.”