Dr. Joan Miller, the director of Provision, was a practicing veterinarian when she adopted a young son two decades ago. That child had serious mental health issues that Dr. Miller and her husband (also a vet), were unable to address, simply because appropriate services were not available. This, despite the fact that the Millers had both the education and financial resources to address their son’s problems. Faced with this dilemma and seeing the large number of families dealing with the same issues, Dr. Miller went back to school to become a counselor specializing in children with these seemingly intractable problems.
Currently, children of normal or above normal intelligence but with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or other behavioral conditions that can disrupt regular classrooms, have three choices. They are either sent away from home to special residential schools in other states (usually after their parents beggar themselves with loans) or are sent to juvenile detention centers or other public institutions where they get sporadic treatment and education or they get no treatment at all and deteriorate at home playing computer games or sitting in school detention.
Seeing this situation still in place after twenty years, and with her own son doing well and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Dr. Miller and her daughter, a special education teacher, decided there should be a program in Kentucky that provided the kind of counseling, family care and education that has been proven effective with other children.
That is how Provision started. In their one short year of operation, they now have three teachers, two counselors, a board of committed professionals and cadre of children, who, for the first time, love going to school and are actually making real academic progress as well as learning to deal with their problems. In addition, families are getting respite from the constant stressful care such children require. Several parents, who previously had to devote all their time to caring for their special children, have been able to return to work.
One final note. Though the school is completely open to all children, regardless of faith, ethnic background, race, etc. and the curriculum is completely secular, many of the staff have joined Provision as part of their Christian commitment to serve others.
The population served by Provision is one most people do not even know exists. These are children with serious mental or neurological problems that cause them to exhibit behaviors that are difficult to manage in the classroom. They suffer from the same brain conditions and behavioral problems that adults with mental illness experience. However, because they are children, they are even more at the mercy of a society that has tremendous misconceptions and prejudices about mental illness. One of the biggest misconceptions is that there is no "cure" for mental illness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children who receive long term, wrap around care actually do quite well as adults. Further, new research into such areas as PTSD and brain structure and chemistry are producing new treatments every day. However, this type of long term, medically based care that combines a child's treatment with his or her education and family support services, and does so in one program and building, has simply not been available in Kentucky until now.
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