Dodge City foster home shuts its doors

Youthville in Dodge City closes November 12
Youthville in Dodge City closes November 12

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — A major residential center for foster children in southwest Kansas is preparing to close.

On Monday, EmberHope announced their Dodge City Youthville campus will close November 12.

Youthville currently houses 17 foster children.  Because of the facility closing their doors, they will now go back into the state’s foster care system.

Officials say they lost a state contract and that’s created a drop in funding, and as a result, Youthville is closing.

“Our total agency funding has been reduced in the last few years,” said Shelley Duncan, President and CEO of EmberHope, “for a number of reasons. It’s just the state of affairs right now. It’s no one to blame, it’s just that there isn’t a lot of funding available.”

They intend to lease or sell the property, closing the door on a future for the Dodge City campus.

Saint Francis Community Services is the child welfare contractor in this area, and they will be responsible for finding new homes for the foster kids.

“It is unfortunate any time a child has to be disrupted from their placement,” said Duncan, “and so obviously we’re working very closely with Saint Francis to help in a very smooth transition.”

KSN reached out to Saint Francis to try and find out what their plans are for the 17 children at Youthville, but nobody was available to comment. Still, it’s unlikely their new homes will have the same resources at Youthville, like psychiatric treatment and sexual abuse treatment.

As for the nearly 50 employees, the CEO says can they can apply for other jobs within EmberHope that they’re qualified for, but she admits there’s not a lot of room in the organization.

“We have another, smaller residential program on our Newton campus, so yeah, they can apply for anything they want within the agency,” she said.

EmberHope is applying for contracts with the state to provide additional services to foster children and at-risk youths in southwest Kansas now that it will no longer provide residences.