UCC-related Uspiritus and Centerstone Kentucky Sign Letter of Intent to Merge

United Church of Christ-related Uspiritus — the Louisville, Ky.-based provider of therapeutic treatment and counseling to children and youth living with the effects of abuse, neglect or other mental health crisis situations — has signed a letter of intent to merge with Centerstone Kentucky.

The merger between Centerstone and Uspiritus will unite the region’s most notable residential service provider for youth with one of the largest behavioral health organizations in Kentucky to create a unique continuum of care for children transitioning from state custody into adulthood.

At the forefront of the discussions with Centerstone has been continuing the faith heritage of Upspiritus, and its connection to the UCC as a CHHSM-member ministry.

“Uspiritus has a long faith heritage tradition, and we know that many of our children come to us with a faith heritage,” says Abbreial (Abby) Drane, president and CEO of Uspiritus. “Our merger will create more solutions for children and families in the foster care system and therefore increase our CHHSM ministry throughout Kentucky.”

As part of the proposed merger, Uspiritus will change its name to Centerstone. Currently, Centerstone is one of the largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare in the nation. In operation for more than 60 years, it has provider organizations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Centerstone provides an array of treatment, support and educational programs and services to more than 172,000 individuals with mental health and addiction disorders, and developmental disabilities.

Kentucky, like most U.S. states, has seen a substantial increase in the number of children entering foster care due to the effects of opioids and heroin. In 2012, 6,000 children were in the state’s care, says Drane. Today, that number has grown to more than 8,600, due in large part to the number of parents who have lost custody because of their addiction to opioids.

“The phrase ‘opioid orphans’ is becoming an all too familiar and common reality. We want children to get treatment in the residential setting and then move back to homes and community schools,” Drane says. The merger will “open doors and expand our current services to more children and families.”

By combining their expertise and resources, the organizations will be able to enhance access to behavioral health treatments, housing assistance, community resources, education services and job training for children, youth and families across the region.

“UCC and CHHSM ministries have always been at the forefront of the least among us,” says Drane. “We must come together as providers of services for children and families. We can no longer raise children in institutions without a family and the experiences that every child needs to become a health adult.”

“This is not just a Uspiritus or Kentucky problem. Our nation needs real solutions,” Drane adds. “I believe we can improve the outcomes for children and families.”

Uspiritus and Centerstone are currently finalizing the agreement. The process, which includes standard due diligence, legal and regulatory reviews, is expected to conclude in spring 2018.

Uspiritus is one of the largest agencies for at-risk youth in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, serving more than 1,000 children each year at its two residential campuses in Louisville, and its community-based services in Louisville and Bowling Green. For more information, please visit www.uspiritus.org.

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