July 18, 2024

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Central Ohio program addresses foster kids’ mental health

2 min read

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As children enter into the foster care system here in central Ohio, many of them have dealt with trauma throughout their lives. It can make adjusting to a new foster home difficult, and that’s why The Buckeye Ranch developed a new program for high-risk kids. 

It’s called the Healing Alternatives for Youth program, or HAY, and it’s the only one of its kind in Franklin County. The HAY program helps respond to the need for the placement, stabilization and treatment of kids who have been through trauma. 

Lindsay Williams, the Vice President of Child Welfare Services at The Buckeye Ranch said they focus on, “Youth with more intensive needs because they have been dealing with lots of trauma and as a result of that, we’re seeing youth that have been overnighting in the lobbies of children’s services agencies.” 

Local foster parent Rev. Belinda Woods said when she heard about this new program, she knew she needed to get involved. 

“The HAY program to me, when it was rolled out or explained to us initially, was so there would be no children left at Franklin County sleeping in an office. That’s what tugged at my heart,” said Rev. Woods. 

The goal of the HAY program is to connect kids who have been through trauma to resources as soon as possible. Williams at The Buckeye Ranch said that’s the key to stabilizing these children. 

“When youth experience a lot of trauma, the way that we work with those youth is we provide very supportive resources, very supportive services and provide them with a healing environment,” said Williams. 

For Rev. Woods, being a HAY foster parent is really the same as fostering other children in the past. She said she just makes sure to give these kids even more grace. 

“The trauma that some of these children have experienced is, first of all, unbelievable. The fact that they are still here, alive. Regardless of the harm that’s been done to them, they are so resilient,” said Rev. Woods. “I just want to give a child a soft place to land until they get to where they’re going.” 

Foster parents are always needed at The Buckeye Ranch. Those who are interested in becoming a HAY foster parent or just a regular foster parent can learn more here or call 800-296-5113.


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