KENTucky Kids: Building Careers in Youth Services

Kent School partners with residential youth care organizations to bring social workers to KY


 Two youth residential care programs in Louisville, Kentucky, have partnered with the Kent School of Social Work to bring KENTucky Kids to life and offer out-of-state prospective Master of Science in Social Work students an opportunity to receive in-state tuition and valuable training as a Youth Care Worker with staff support and mentoring.

Being a youth care worker is not just a career – it’s a calling to provide committed care to vulnerable youth. Maryhurst and Uspiritus are the partner organizations for this initiative and will provide students a supportive environment in which to gain significant, beneficial experience.

“The partnership of the Kent School of Social Work with KENTucky Kids is a wonderful collaboration.  It offers us the opportunity to bring out-of-state students into Louisville, expand our student diversity at the University of Louisville, and bring more social workers into the area of trauma-informed care for youth.  Uspiritus and Maryhurst are leaders in this type of care and our students and the community will all benefit from this endeavor,” said Kent School Dean Dr. David Jenkins.

Acceptance to KENTucky Kids is contingent on both admission to Kent School’s MSSW program and an official job offer from one of the participating residential care agencies. Students accepted to the program will receive an in-state tuition waiver and the opportunity to graduate with a MSSW in three years and with a competitive resume.

“I am excited about our partnership with Uspiritus and Maryhurst.  Uspiritus and Maryhurst are the leading agencies in offering trauma-informed care to the youth in Kentucky. They came to the Kent School because they have the desire to prepare the next generation of residential care professionals. In KENTucky Kids, MSSW students who have a passion for working with youth will embark on a career in residential care through a strong graduate education that is matched with relevant agency employment and strong mentorship,” said Dr. Pam Yankeelov, Associate Dean for Student Services.

Per the role description for the Youth Counselor positions, students placed in either Maryhurst or Uspiritus will be responsible for providing a therapeutic milieu within the program setting.  Youth counselors supervise the activities of clients and work as part of a team to maintain a safe and secure environment for all clients and promote growth and development.  Students accepted into the program are assigned specific clients with whom they will work with as mentors and advocates. 

Maryhurst programs include an intensive campus-based residential treatment program, two community-based therapeutic group homes and treatment foster care. Many foster care placements turn into adoptions, creating “forever families” each year. Maryhurst has established collaborative relationships with a number of community partners, one of which, MB Care, provides Psychiatric Residential Treatment Services to adolescent girls.

“I am thrilled about the upcoming partnership between Maryhurst, Uspiritus and the Kent School. It provides a unique opportunity to not only shape future leaders in the behavioral health sector, but also identity those individuals looking to make a long-term investment in the future youth of Kentucky,” said Judy Lambeth, Maryhurst President & CEO.

At Uspiritus, youth live in family-style cottages on two Louisville campuses (Bellewood and Brooklawn) that are supervised by trained youth care workers, shift supervisors and cottage managers. Youth learn basic and advanced social skills that help build self-esteem, communication, self-awareness and healthy relationships. Staff supports youth by holding daily family meetings, setting expectations and pro-actively teaching skills needed to become successful in the community.

“This new partnership is a win, win for children and future behavioral health providers. Louisville’s Kent School gains top level students from across the nation, living, working and learning about the latest in trauma-informed care of children, and will be putting that knowledge to work in the field. We are excited to be a partner in any endeavor that helps our kids have a brighter future,” said Abbreial Drane, Uspiritus President & CEO.

For more information about the KENTucky Kids program, including admissions requirements, visit