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united-states-mint-unveils-designs-for-boys-town-centennial-commemorative-coinsUnited States Mint Unveils Designs for Boys Town Centennial Commemorative CoinsCalifornia, Iowa
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016

​​​This press release was published on August 23, 2016.

Designs for coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town were unveiled today during a ceremony at Boys Town Music Hall in Boys Town, Neb.

"Each time a person looks at any one of these unique designs, it will spark an interest in learning about the history of Boys Town, acknowledging the extraordinary efforts made by this organization to give comfort and purpose to children in need, and recognizing the significant contributions of Father Flanagan," said United States Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson.

Jeppson was joined by Boys Town​ representatives Cordell Cade and Kymani Bell, mayor and vice mayor, respectively; Dan Daly, Executive Vice President, Director of ​Youth Care; and Jerry Davis, Vice President of Advocacy.

Public Law 114-30 authorizes the Mint to mint and issue no more than 50,000 $5 gold, 350,000 $1 silver, and 300,000 half dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the centennial of Boys Town. 

The gold coin obverse (heads) features a portrait of Father Flanagan.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "FR. EDWARD FLANAGAN," "LIBERTY," and "2017."  The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

The gold coin reverse (tails) features an outstretched hand holding a young oak tree growing from an acorn.  As ​stated in the idiom "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow," this design represents the potential of each child helped by Boys Town to grow into a productive, complete adult.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "THE WORK WILL CONTINUE," "FIVE DOLLARS," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The silver $1 coin obverse features a young girl sitting alone and gazing upward into the branches of an oak tree looking for help.  The empty space around the girl is deliberate and meant to show the child's sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "When you help a child today...," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "1917-2017."

The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. 

The coin's reverse features an oak tree offering shelter and a sense of belonging to the family holding hands below it, which includes the girl from the obverse.  Inscriptions include " write the history of tomorrow," "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "ONE DOLLAR," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Damstra and sculpted by Menna.

The clad half dollar obverse features an older brother holding the hand of his younger brother in 1917.  They walk toward Father Flanagan's Boys Home and the 1940s pylon representing what would become Boys Town.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "1917," "2017," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "Saving Children."  The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

The coin's reverse features a present-day Boys Town neighborhood of homes where children are schooled and nurtured by caring families.  Out of these homes come young adults who graduate from high school and the Boys Town program.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "Healing Families," and "HALF DOLLAR."  The reverse was also designed by Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

Pricing for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins will include surcharges-$35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 for each $1 silver coin, and $5 for each half dollar clad coin-which are authorized to be paid to Boys Town to carry out its cause of caring for and assisting children and families in underserved communities across America.

The Mint will announce the release date and additional pricing information for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins prior to their release in 2017.

boys-town-iowa-in-home-family-services-supervisor-heads-to-central-florida-to-assistBoys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services Supervisor Heads to Central Florida to AssistCentral Florida
Monday, Aug 15, 2016

​​​At the end of June, Keely Heitland, Sioux City’s In-Home Family Services Supervisor, traveled to Central Florida to assist the site’s In-Home Family Services (IHFS) program while their supervisor, Erica Vagle, is on maternity leave.

“I was excited to volunteer,” Heitland said. “I was intrigued by the idea to observe another site and how they deliver IHFS using the Boys Town Model."

While in Florida, Heitland has a similar role as she does in Iowa. She is supervising four consultants, providing consultation and support, as well as attending intakes and visits for observations to ensure quality services are provided.

“One of the things we say about using evidence-based practices is that our model should be replicable, which means that whether you are in Iowa or Central Florida, we should be using the same interventions and strategies and our hallmarks and model elements should be clearly consistent across the services we offer,” Bethany Lacey, Director, In-Home Family Services, Boys Town Central Florida, said.

”Having someone like Keely step in temporarily to fill our need has been a huge asset,” Lacey said. “She may not be familiar with all nuances of Central Florida, but she knows the model and she knows families and staff. A family in need is a family in need no matter where they live.” 

It has long been common practice for Boys Town to share staff between Family Home and Intervention and Assessment Centers.

“If one site is low on staff, it often happens that another site will send staff to help out,” Lacey said.

However, it isn’t as common for In-Home Family Services. Lacey’s hope is that what they’ve accomplished can be replicated and that other sites can use the lessons they’ve learned on how to organize such an experience.

Heitland also attends internal and external meetings in Vagle’s place, which “has allowed me to learn about other programs to assist Iowa in developing their site.”

Central Florida has a smaller IHFS program but offers more services within the continuum of care. The biggest difference Heitland has encountered is the “application of [the in-home services]” and how it “takes in consideration the many different consumers, grants and contractors” the site is working with.

“Florida’s programs are more preventative versus reactive,” she said, citing an example of working with families before they are court involved. “Florida also has the ability to provide multiple services within the Boys Town continuum and does well linking them.”

“I have enjoyed further learning about and observing the services within the continuum and hope to bring this knowledge back to Iowa to assist us in further grants and contracts,” she said.

spencer-office-moves-to-larger-locationSpencer Office Moves to Larger LocationIowa
Monday, Jul 11, 2016

​​The Boys ​Town office in Spencer, Iowa is approaching its five year anniversary since its opening in 2011. The office opened its doors in early July 2011 and during their first year, they were able to serve a total of 29 families and 61 youth. Since its opening, the office has continued to grow in the number of children and families they serve within the Spencer community and surrounding communities with 93 percent of the children they serve remaining in their homes.

“Over the past five years, the Boys Town Spencer Iowa office has established presence within the community as a high-quality family service provider,” In-Home Family Services Supervisor, CJ Bauman said. “We have built our knowledge base on services provided to families within the community.”

The office is moving to a larger office to accommodate the growing number of families they serve. This move will provide the office with additional space to conduct valuable employee meetings and to serve more families.

The new office is located in a neighborhood setting and CJ Bauman hopes this will help build their already established community relationships. “Consumers and client surveys have been very positive,” Bauman said. “The new move into a residential setting allows us the opportunity to really make our presence known in the neighborhood.”

In honor of its five year anniversary and new office space, the Spencer, Iowa office is hosting an open house. The open house will serve as an opportunity to invite community members into the office and educate them on the services they provide while building valuable relationships.

Congrats to the Spencer, Iowa office on five years of serving children and families!

firefighters-top-police-in-council-bluffs-drive-to-help-boys-townFirefighters Top Police in Council Bluffs Drive to Help Boys TownIowa
Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016

​​This article is written by Derek Sullivan of the World-Herald News Service. It was posted on on July 3, 2016.

The Council Bluffs Fire Department got bragging rights, the Council Bluffs Police Department got a roll of toilet paper and needy families in western Iowa received more than 2,000 pounds of household goods.

On Friday at Boys Town Iowa, local firefighters and police officers found out who won a monthlong contest between the two groups. Throughout June, the two agencies had drop boxes throughout Council Bluffs asking local residents to donate household goods to the families who work with Boys Town Iowa.

The fire department collected 1,109.5 pounds of household goods, roughly 110 more pounds than the police department.

Officer Jill Knotek, who represented police at the weigh-in, accepted the runner-up trophy, which consisted of a roll of toilet paper on a 6-inch pedestal.

“I’m definitely disappointed, but we gave them a run for their money,” Knotek said. “We worked very hard, but it’s OK because everyone wins in this scenario.”

Council Bluffs Assistant Fire Chief Jim Wheat said everyone in the fire department enjoys the running competitions with the police department and enjoys giving back to the citizens of Council Bluffs.

“We’ve got a lot of service-oriented guys,” Wheat said. “Council Bluffs is our community, too, and there are lots of stuff we can do to help the community.”

During the contest, local residents were asked to donate household items such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper and laundry detergent.

Debbie Orduna, director of Boys Town Iowa, said she was shocked by the amount of donated items. She said it took more than two hours to weigh everything, and items kept arriving throughout Friday.

“It’s wonderful because there is a significant need. Many people take these items for granted,” she said. “The cost of those items can add up, and most of the families we are working with are dealing with poverty. To provide these items to families helps them keep their utilities on and helps make sure their rent or house payment is made.”

Boys Town Iowa helps families in 30 western Iowa counties, but the household items collected are expected to be handed out to families in Council Bluffs.

business-helps-cbpd-cbfd-collect-items-for-boys-townBusiness helps CBPD, CBFD collect items for Boys TownIowa
Rick Benson, EMS Division Chief for the CBFD, left, and Dale Schmitz, community affairs officer for the CBPD.
Monday, Jun 27, 2016

​​This article is written by Derek Sullivan. It was posted on on June 21, 2016.

The Heritage at Fox Run wanted to do something to help Council Bluffs police officers and Council Bluffs firefighters in their quest to donate hundreds of household items to Boys Town Iowa.

Lacy Jungman, director of sales and marketing for Heritage, said working with the community was the best solution.

All this week, anyone who tours the assisted living facility can decide whether the Council Bluffs Police Department or Council Bluffs Fire Department gets $10 worth of household goods, purchased by Heritage at Fox Run for an ongoing competition between the departments.

In June, the two agencies are collecting household goods, such as cleaning supplies and hygienic products, for Boys Town Iowa.

Boys Town Iowa helps families in 30 western Iowa counties, but the contest between the police and fire departments, called the Boys Town Iowa Drive, will make life easier for Council Bluffs families, said Debbie Orduna, director of Iowa operations.

Boys Town Iowa officials will name the winner of the contest and the amount of household goods collected on July 1.

Each department has six collection boxes located throughout Council Bluffs at the police station, fire department stations, local Hy-Vee grocery stores, Hy-Vee Drug Store and The Center on South Main Street.

Jungman said Heritage supports all three agencies (CBRD, CBFD, Boys Town Iowa) in the competition, so it made sense to help out.

“The Heritage at Fox Run is always looking for opportunities to give back to the community,” Jungman said. “Just as we wouldn’t want our elderly to choose between paying bills and necessary staples, we certainly don’t want others, including families with young children, to have to make that choice.”

Jungman said there are many similarities between the elderly and children.

“The goal of this drive is to ensure families have the supplies they need to live their daily lives,” she said.

“At times, we see seniors who are struggling to provide those same staples for themselves. Both generations are vulnerable age groups, and we felt it was a necessary gesture to give back.”

Jungman said Heritage spoke with Boys Town Iowa and the CBPD and CBFD and everyone was very excited for their help.

“Our hope is that we get a flood of people in our doors, and make a positive impact in the lives of families and children through our donations,” she said. “We are prepared for the Council Bluffs public to tour the community next week.”

teamwork-pays-as-officers-therapists-combine-expertiseTeamwork Pays as Officers, Therapists Combine ExpertiseIowa
Copyright Joe Shearer, The Daily NonPareil
Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016

​​This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted June 18, 2016 on

A growing relationship between local law enforcement agencies and a mental health crisis team is paying dividends, officials say.

The Crisis Response Team is made up of therapists and social workers from ​Heartland Family Service, Veterans Affairs, area schools, CHI Health, Boys Town and private practice, according to Director Jenny Stewart of Heartland Family Service.

Counting Stewart and two lead therap​ists – one for Iowa, one for Nebraska – there are 18 on the team.

The CRT responds to calls from law enforcement officers when they see signs that someone involved in an incident is in a mental health crisis, Stewart said. The team always has at least one person on call.

“We typically have one assigned, and then there’s backup,” she said. “There’s four who could go out.”

Team members try to be on scene within 30 minutes, Stewart said.

“The therapist will go out and will be debriefed by the officer on what’s happened,” she said. “The therapist will do a safety risk assessment.”

The team member tries to determine how likely it is that the person might hurt himself or herself or someone else, Stewart said. They consider whether the person has a plan to do that and a weapon, whether they have support people who can stay with them for the night and other factors.

Then, the therapist makes a recommendation to the law enforcement officer on what level of care the person needs.

“Law enforcement makes the final decision on what happens to that person,” she said. “If that person goes to the hospital, the therapist will follow that person to the hospital to speak to the doctor or medical staff.”

The goal is to avoid unnecessary incarcerations and hospitalizations, Stewart said.

The relationship between law enforcement and the CRT has changed the way suspects in mental health crises are handled, said Officer Ben Lake of the Council Bluffs Police Department.

In the past, officers’ options were limited.

“We can’t solve their problem in 15 minutes on a call,” he said. “We would just immediately take them to the hospital.”

There, they would see an emergency room doctor who could not help them immediately – only hold them to see a psychiatrist the next day (if there was a bed available) or refer them to someone who could provide outpatient treatment, Lake said. If the person was admitted to the hospital, taxpayers would likely have to pay the bill.

“The CRT helps us connect that person with other resources, instead of us just taking them to jail or to the hospital,” said Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jerome Stewart, Jenny Stewart’s husband.

The team was formed in 2008 and initially served only Sarpy County, Nebraska, Jenny Stewart said. Pottawattamie County was added in January 2011 and Cass County, Nebraska, in June 2011. Some team members are only licensed in one state or the other.

“We have a number of therapists who are trained in both states, so they sit on every county’s team,” she said.

Sometimes Stewart or one of the lead therapists debriefs a team member after a call, she said.

“Crisis response can be really intense,” she said. “We’ve had tables flipped on us, people charge us. There is always at least one law enforcement officer there, but things can change quickly – and there are often several people on site.”

The CRT is in the process of adding eight more counties, all in Iowa: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page and Shelby, Jenny Stewart said. Because the team doesn’t have members in all of the counties, members respond to calls from rural counties via telehealth – a live video broadcast between the officer’s cruiser and the therapist’s computer or smart phone.

“There’s not enough therapists in those areas,” she said.

With the video hookup, the therapist can still look for body language and other visual cues, Jenny Stewart added. Telehealth may be used for calls from eastern Pottawattamie County, too, depending on whether the officer is willing or able to wait for a therapist to get to the scene.

Two deputies are currently ​testing reception in the rural counties, she said.

The team trains law enforcement officers annually on dealing with people with mental health issues, she said. In turn, law enforcement officials train CRT members on what they might encounter on a call.

“We really need that situational training everywhere we go,” Jenny Stewart said. “There’s no charge to our agency, and we, in kind, don’t charge them for our training. It’s a great partnership.”

Added Jerome Stewart: “I have found in my years the more I have learned about mental health or behavioral health, the better I have been able to communicate with people on the street.”

The deputy said he is better able to recognize signs of mental illness now and is better able to de-escalate the situation when someone is upset.

“The more I learn, the easier it gets,” Jerome Stewart said.

cbpd-and-cbfd-collect-items-for-local-needy-familiesCBPD and CBFD Collect Items for Local Needy FamiliesIowa
Copyright Joe Shearer
Thursday, Jun 9, 2016

​​​​​​This article is written by Derek ​Sullivan. It was posted June 2, 2016 on

Regardless of which team wins, hundreds of needy children will come out on top.

In June, the Council Bluffs Police Department and the Council Bluffs Fire Department will collect necessary household items, like cleaning supplies and hygienic products, for families helped by Boys Town Iowa.

Boys Town Iowa helps families in 30 western Iowa counties, but the contest between the CBPD and CBFD, called the Boys Town Iowa Drive, will make life easier for Council Bluffs families, said Debbie Orduna, director of Iowa operations.

Each department has six collection boxes located throughout Council Bluffs at the police stations, fire department stations, local Hy-Vee grocery stores, Hy-Vee Drug Store and The Center on South Main Street.

“We feel very fortunate that the police and firefighters are helping our cause,” Orduna said. “They put their lives on the line everyday to ensure our safety, and they also have a true understanding of the importance to help families receive basic needs. We are very appreciative of the passion they have put behind this cause. It’s just another way they go above and beyond.”

Council Bluffs Fire Chief Justin James said Boys Town has helped him in a personal way by assisting a boy he knows.

“I think (Boys Town Iowa) is trying to get into something that is missed right now. A lot of time these children are in very rough conditions,” James said. “The kids and their parents are living in poverty and they don’t have any money to go out and buy cleaning supplies or hygiene products, so we are just trying to done those items so they can have a better and more successful home, a cleaner environment for the children.

“I don’t believe there is a charity out there that provides these necessities,” he said. “There’s nowhere else for them to go.”

Council Bluffs Police Officer Jill Knotek said for many people items such as toothpaste and toilet paper are necessities, but for some needy families those items are luxuries.

“A lot of families live in poverty and they have to decide how they are going to spend their money. They have to decide whether to spend it on transportation, items for their children or food. Oftentimes, there is not a lot of money left over. “

On July 1, the donations will be weighed at a ceremony at the Boys Town Iowa office at 1851 Madison Ave. After the weigh-in, a winner will be crowned.

“It makes it a little more fun,” Knotek said. “It’s for bragging rights.”

James joked that since the fire department traditionally comes out on top in competitions with the police department it ​isn’t that big of deal. Of course, providing necessities to needy family is a big deal.

“Our guys love kids and we see many families in terrible spots,” James said. “We want to do whatever we can to help.”

Contest Details

Drop off locations

  • 227 S 6 St., Police Records
  • 757 W. Broadway, Hy-Vee Drugstore
  • 1759 Madison Ave., Hy-Vee
  • 2323 W. Broadway, Hy-Vee
  • 714 S. Main St, The Center
  • 200 S. 4th St, FD Headquarters
  • 30 S. 27th St, Fire Station 2
  • 2111 Greenview Road, Fire Station 4
  • 3405 S. 11th St, Fire Station 5
  • 1000 Oak St., Fire Station 6
  • 1851 Madison Ave., Boys Town Iowa Office

Items needed
shampoo/conditioner, bar soap/hand soap, unscented deodorant, toothbrushes/toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, lotion, disposable razors, toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner, rags/sponges, buckets, dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, sanitizer, diapers and baby wipes, baby bottles/sippy cups, childproofing, accessories, bug bombs/ant traps

Copyright Joe Shearer 

face-of-the-day-debbie-ordunaFace of the Day: Debbie OrdunaIowa
Debbie Orduna is the director of Boys Town Iowa, an affiliate of the national Boys Town organization.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This ​article was posted on on April 18, 2016.

Debbie Orduna is the director of Boys Town Iowa, an affiliate of the national Boys Town organization that has been bringing hope and healing to children and families for nearly 100 years. Boys Town Iowa primarily provides In-Home Family Services, which began helping families in Pottawattamie County in 1989 and has since grown to serve 30 western Iowa counties.

Boys Town Iowa prevents child abuse by teaching parents skills that empower them to overcome challenges that threaten the stability of their home and the safety of their children. These challenges include economic hardship, substance abuse, marital issues and family conflict. In-Home Family Services help families stay together by preventing the removal of children from their homes or by reunifying children with their families if outside placement is necessary.

“Every family deserves the chance to stay together and receive services that can help them heal and thrive,” Orduna said. “When families are strong, our communities are strong. Helping children grow up in safe, stable homes and providing parents with the tools to support their family is critical to keeping children safe and keeping families together.”

Boys Town Iowa Family Consultants are available to work with and provide support to families 24/7, helping parents build on their strengths, improve their parenting skills and connect to community resources and supports. Family consultants also coach parents on how to solve problems on their own so they can maintain a stable, nurturing home long after an intervention ends.

Boys Town Iowa also provides Common Sense Parenting classes, which teach parents and other caregivers proven techniques for building strong family relationships, preventing and correcting children’s misbehavior, using consequences to improve behavior, maintaining self-control and staying calm. Classes are presented in the community in formal and informal settings.

boys-town-participates-in-race-for-prevention-of-child-abuseBoys Town Participates in Race for Prevention of Child Abuse Iowa
Friday, Apr 22, 2016

Boys Town staff from Nebraska and ​Iowa showed their support for the Prevention of Child Abuse as they raced in the second annual Metropolitan Child Advocacy Coalition’s Child Abuse Prevention Council Race for Prevention of Child Abuse on April 9, 2016.

The race took place in Downtown Omaha on the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge; the bridge that connects Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha. Members of various Nebraska and Iowa child and family services organizations came together to take a stand against child abuse.

Both Boys Town Nebraska and Iowa In-Home Family Services (IHFS) teams were present to volunteer and to watch as Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh met in the middle of the bridge to sign a proclamation recognizing the importance of child abuse prevention and April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“It is important for Boys Town staff to team up with other members of the community to show we are in the efforts of protecting children and healing families together,” said Lisa Pierce, Director, In-Home Family Services.

Additionally, the Nebraska In-Home Family Services team placed pinwheels outside of the South Omaha office in an effort to bring awareness to child abuse prevention. Pierce said this serves as a reminder that everyone has a responsibility to keep kids safe. She said, “These pinwheels allow for the community to see them and be reminded that it is an entire community’s responsibility to keep our children safe and free from abuse.”

classes-help-siouxland-mothers-in-recovery-improve-parenting-skillsClasses Help Siouxland Mothers in Recovery Improve Parenting SkillsIowa
Copyright Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal
Monday, Oct 5, 2015

​​This ​article is written by Dolly A. Butz of the Sioux City Journal . It was posted on on October 3, 2015.

Christina ​Pool lifted her infant daughter into the air and planted numerous kisses on her chubby cheeks in a conference room at Jackson Recovery Centers Women & Children's Center.

Neither mom nor baby could help but smile.

The 28-year-old, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol for five years, entered treatment when 6-month-old Myracle Rose-Pool was just 3 weeks old. Words on Myracle's pink bib say she's "Mommy's new BFF."

Pool, who is living at Sanctuary Apartments on Jackson's campus, is enrolled in out-patient treatment and working part-time. She said her daughter truly is a "miracle" because she saved her life and gave her a second chance to parent with a clear mind right from the start. Pool has four other daughters and a son all under the age of 9.

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) classes that Pool received through a partnership between Jackson Recovery Centers and Boys Town of Iowa are helping her meet Myracle's needs while finding a work-life balance as a woman in recovery.

"It just really helps to be able to get to know her, which is something that I didn't do with my other kids like knowing what her cries mean or being able to sense when she's upset or fussy," said Pool as Myracle babbled.

CSP, an evidence-based parenting program, can be applied to any family. The program is offered to mothers in treatment at Jackson once a week for eight weeks. During the two-hour classes participants learn parenting techniques that address issues of communication, discipline, decision making, relationships, self-control and school success.

Trisha Wegner, Jackson's clinical supervisor, said some patients possess basic parenting skills, but their addiction has removed them from the role of mom for a while.

"For some of them (CSP) is a reminder -- getting back to information they're already aware of. Some of them are learning new skills as well," she said. "I do believe the patients here find this beneficial to have while in treatment."

Jeff Hackett, director of community engagement for Boys Town, said he wishes CSP had been around when he had his first child. The father of four said being a parent is the most difficult job a person will have in their lifetime. CSP provides an instruction manual for parent  who often revert to how they themselves were parented, he said.

"People assume parenting is innate and it's not necessarily. There's an emotion that's innate, but it's not style," he said. "(CSP) avoids so many butting of heads that parents and children can get into."


Pool, who is the youngest in her family, said her stepmother raised her, while her dad spent his days on the road as a truck driver.

"Growing up, I helped my sisters take care of their children. I was the big sister to my nieces and nephews more than their aunt," said Pool, who is from Lincoln, Nebraska.

By the age of 21, Pool had two children of her own. She worked nights as a grocery store clerk and was then promoted to assistant manager. After Pool's third child came along, she said she really struggled balancing full-time work and being a single mom.

"It was work, work, work. By the time I got home I was too exhausted to even try to parent," she said.

Her family helped her out as much as they could, but Pool said it was tough raising three children born a year apart.

Her third child was born with a variety of disabilities, including a cleft palate, and had to undergo several surgeries.

"That's when things kind of got overwhelming for me with my children," Pool said. "I picked up drinking really bad."

Drinking led to marijuana and methamphetamine use. Pool had two more children. Eventually, Nebraska's Division of Children and Family Services stepped in and the court terminated Pool's parental rights. One of her cousins adopted her son and four daughters, whom Pool is allowed to visit.

Last year, Pool's attorney told her she would have to leave the state if she wanted to keep the child she was carrying.

"It took my dad looking at me and asking me was I gonna keep having kids and giving them away. That was probably the biggest point in my life where I realized I didn't want to just not keep caring anymore," she said.

Pool moved to Iowa to live with a friend. The Department of Human Services encouraged her to enroll in an in-patient drug treatment program at Jackson Recovery Center's in Sioux City, which she did shortly after giving birth to Myracle.

"Being in treatment and (my cousin) seeing the effort I have put forth has really helped. I've got to go home and do therapy sessions with my children," said Pool who has seven months of sobriety under her belt. "I'm just truly giving thanks to God for where I'm at today."


The first session of parenting classes, which Pool attended, were held in the spring. A second round of CSP recently wrapped up.

Hackett brought the classes to the Women & Children's Center with funding Boys Town received from the Iowa Child Welfare Decategorization Project. Decategorization of the child welfare system redirects child welfare and juvenile justice funding to provide services that are more preventative, family-centered and community-based.

CSP focuses on modeling, demonstration and role-playing rather than lecture, which comprises only about 15 minutes of each class. Hackett said participants break into groups, watch a segment of a video depicting a parenting scenario, determine what the problem is and come up with a solution. The women engage in role-playing, taking turns being both parent and child. They receive workbooks and are expected to complete homework assignments.

Hackett said instructors also observe the women interacting with their children in the home setting. He said it gives participants the opportunity to concentrate on certain aspects of parenting that they may be struggling with.

Shopping with her nieces and nephews used to drive her crazy, Pool said. She assumed they knew how to behave in the store.

Now, she knows to state the rules and her expectations to the children before entering the store and to repeat those rules if needed. She rewards positive behavior with praise, a high five or a trip to the park.

During a recent visit to Lincoln, Pool used CSP methods to discipline her children. She said she put them in timeout and explained why they were receiving that particular punishment. Their behavior improved.

"It's just kind of trial and error -- seeing if it works. And it works," she said. "It's amazing."

new-downtown-park-a-great-project-mayor-saysNew Downtown Park a 'Great Project,' Mayor SaysIowa
© Joe Shearer
Tuesday, Sep 8, 2015

This article was written by Tim ​Rohwer and published on September 2, 2015 in The Daily Nonpareil .

It’s been said that broken windows breed crime.

“The same thing can be said with a vacant lot,” said Jaymes Sime, community outreach coordinator for Boys Town Iowa.

That’s why a proposed neighborhood park near downtown Council Bluffs in the West Bayliss neighborhood is such a good thing, according to numerous local officials. Proponents say the park would provide youth recreational and healthy activities in a neighborhood in need of more such options.

Plans call for a small soccer field with a half-basketball court nearby. Some play features, such as a sandbox and swinging tires, might be included as well. A 4-foot-high chain-linked fence would be installed around the area as a safety precaution.

“This is just one piece of the puzzle in the (redeveloped) neighborhood, but an important piece,” Sime said.

And he is certainly not alone in pushing for such a park.

The Morning Rotary Club, of which he is a member, has provided a $2,000 grant for basketball hoops and equipment. Area churches and organizations have expressed interest in helping out, he said.

“It’s a grassroots neighborhood park,” said Mayor Matt Walsh.

Once completed, activities not only could include structured games, but perhaps frequent cookouts attracting the nearby residents and others in the community.

“It could serve multiple purposes,” he said. “I think 95 percent to 99 percent of the residents there love their neighborhood and want to see it reach its full potential.”

Added Walsh: “I think it’s a great project. The park is in an area of town that have a lot of kids living in apartments that don’t have yards to play in. Kids need to get out and get fresh air.”

parenting-classes-at-recovery-center-make-perfect-senseParenting Classes at Recovery Center Make Perfect SenseIowa
Monday, Aug 24, 2015

It seems like Boys Town is always finding new ways to help families in need. This spring, Boys Town Iowa did its part to expand the reach of Boys Town’s mission by partnering with Jackson Recovery Center, providing Common Sense Parenting® classes to parents going through treatment for addiction.

Jeff Hackett, the Director of Community Engagement at Boys Town Iowa, realized the potential for collaboration when he heard from the treatment center’s Administrative Director that they were seeking an effective parenting curriculum. Reporting that he is “constantly” bragging about the positive impact of the Common Sense Parenting program, he made the connection naturally, and a plan was set into motion.

The partnership has been a win-win. The staff at Boys Town Iowa found that many concerns which are normally present when planning a parenting class were already handled, seeing as all of the participants were already living together for 90 to 120 days in a safe, structured home. The team at Jackson Recovery Center, who provide a “very intensive treatment”, adjusted the group’s schedule to create room for the first 7-week long session. Each week, Boys Town consultants visited the center for 2 hours, making sure to leave time for one-on-one Q&A.

Keely Heitland, a Supervisor of In-Home Family Services at Boys Town Iowa, noted that the participants are often eager to learn. “It’s really cool to see how excited they get,” she said, recognizing that the opportunity to make a fresh-start with both their own health and with their children is huge.

Debbie Orduna, Program Director of Boys Town Iowa’s In-Home Family Services, pointed out that this partnership is key in that it allows the parents to recognize that being a parent is just as important as being a recovering addict. She adds: “Our agencies working together are strengthening the success of these families’ futures by giving them tools to abstain from substances, and proven techniques to build good family relationships.”

The program, which received “rave reviews” from the first class of 15 participants, has just started their second round of classes with a group of the same size. Even participants who “bridge out,” or graduate, from the treatment center during the 7-week session are able to attend most of the classes.

Jeff, who first joined the Boys Town team in 1973 and returned in 2011 with more passion than ever, feels enthusiastic about the program’s potential. His hope is to provide these classes on a quarterly basis.

And it isn’t just Jeff who sees a bright future ahead. One participant, he remembers, took the time to express her gratitude on a comment card, writing: “My parents always told me they did the best they could without a manual… Now I have that manual.”

boys-town-iowa-spreads-mission-to-the-communityBoys Town Iowa Spreads Mission to the Community Iowa
Monday, Aug 17, 2015

Rose Stanley, Administrative ​Assistant, Boys Town Iowa, had fond memories of the Siouxland River-Cade Parade, a summer tradition in her hometown of Sioux City that she calls “a highlight of her summer”. Rose figured what better way to educate people about Boys Town having a site in Sioux City, Iowa as well as spread the incredible mission of Boys Town to those in the community then by participating in this beloved summer event. Last year, Rose reached out to Phil Claeys, parade director, who warmly welcomed Boys Town Iowa to the parade.

Boys Town Iowa had such a great time participating in the parade that they gathered together for this summer tradition once again this year. Nine Boys Town employees walked in the parade along with 14 of their family members. The employees and their families had a blast representing an organization they are passionate about.

Those who walked in the parade were extremely thankful for the many other contributions that were made. The Boys Town Iowa management team donated money for the candy, kazoos, and balloons for the parade and Brandi Weyer, Boys Town Iowa Intake and Compliance Specialist, prepared goodie bags and blew up balloons prior to the event. The youngest participants were able to ride in a pickup truck driven by Rose’s uncle, Earl McKinley Sr., allowing them to experience the joys of the parade as well. The support even extended to Boys Town Nebraska due to Mary Huard, Manager of the Gift Shop, who created Boys Town T-shirts and Boys Town pens for the parade.

The Boys Town Iowa office had an incredible time spreading the mission of Boys Town to the Sioux City community. “It really is a collective effort to make this event possible,” said Rose. “I am extremely grateful for everyone that lent a hand”.

from-ruin-to-redemption-iowa-familys-long-journey-leads-to-recovery-and-healingFrom Ruin to Redemption: Iowa Family's Long Journey Leads to Recovery and Healing Iowa
Thursday, Aug 13, 2015

It was the first home visit by the Boys Town Family Consultant, and it didn’t go well.

Ryan Doyle was strung out and paranoid as he sat on a tattered recliner cursing the CIA, convinced “they” were trying to kill him. His wife, Juliana, stared blankly and swayed back and forth. She bore the telltale signs of a meth addict… hollow face, rotted teeth, scabs and scars.

Addiction had robbed the couple of their health, their jobs and their child.

The Doyle’s 9-year-old son, John Ryan (JR), had tested positive for narcotics during a routine medical exam, which then triggered an Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) investigation. JR was placed in foster care, and the family was referred to Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services ® for support and counseling.

When services began, Ryan and Juliana were defensive and hostile, treating the Family Consultant, who they saw as a “stranger” in their home, with belligerence and mistrust.

Overcoming the couple’s suspicions took much patience and effort. The Consultant spent considerable time listening to their rants, offering sympathetic words of understanding and showing compassion without judgment. It took several months, but the Doyles’ arguing and resistance eventually faded as they grew more at ease with the Consultant’s weekly visits. They started listening and, most importantly, began taking to heart the realities of their situation.

Meth is highly addictive, and the Doyles’ road to recovery proved to be an uphill, uneven and ongoing battle. The Consultant spoke honestly and forcefully to the couple about getting treatment for their addictions and educated them about local recovery programs. The couple also was reminded that they would have to get clean if they ever wanted JR home again. Juliana voluntarily agreed to outpatient treatment. Ryan did not and was later involuntarily committed to an inpatient facility.

While addiction specialists addressed the Doyles’ inner demons, the Consultant addressed the family’s dynamics.   

The Consultant coordinated and supervised visits between the Doyles and their son so they could maintain a presence in his life. The poignant gatherings served as powerful motivation for Ryan and Juliana to try to quit their drug habit. Before, during and after the visits, the Consultant taught the couple parenting techniques, including positive discipline, praise and appropriate consequences. When Ryan graduated to an outpatient treatment program, the Consultant worked with him and Juliana on ways to create structure and routines in their home – concepts that were lacking during their drug-fueled days.

Turning their lives around didn’t happen overnight; both Ryan and Juliana suffered relapses. Both had their dark moments, moments they described as being filled with “resentment, guilt, shame and despair.” Yet through the turmoil and the triumphs, their Consultant stood by them to offer encouragement, support and the occasional reprimand.

After 18 months in drug treatment and nearly two years of Boys Town services, Ryan’s and Juliana’s greatest hopes were realized… they were living drug free and their son was home. Despite a long history of bad choices and questionable judgment, the couple didn’t quit on their treatment or Boys Town, and Boys Town didn’t give up on them.

Today, Ryan and Juliana describe their family life as “healthy and honest.” Both have stable employment and housing, and take advantage of support programs in their community. JR is nurtured and loved, and even admits to liking his parents’ house rules and routines. He says they make him feel safe and secure.

The couple is also sharing their experience with other parents who are caught up in Iowa’s child welfare system. The Doyles hope that by telling their story, families facing their own demons will be inspired to get help and start their journey toward redemption.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.

local-organizations-team-up-on-united-way-programLocal Organizations Team Up on United Way ProgramIowa
Monday, Aug 10, 2015

This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was published August 5, 2015 on

Two local organizations are working together to extend in-home services to more area families with the help of a $37,500 grant from United Way of the Midlands.

“Thanks to this grant from United Way of the Midlands, we will be able to foster a partnership with FAMILY Inc. and serve more families and children in the Council Bluffs area,” said Debbie Orduna, director of In-Home Family Services at Boys Town Iowa. “The goal of this program is to work with families before they’re involved with the (child welfare) system.”

Acting on referrals from local schools, Boys Town will identify stressors families are facing and, if needed, refer people to behavioral health or substance abuse treatment providers, Orduna said. The agency will also provide transportation to behavioral health appointments and school or housing meetings.

FAMILY Inc. will provide medical services – such as oral health screenings, physical well being checks and health education – and transport clients in need to medical appointments, she said.

“It is through programs such as this one and true community collaboration that we are able to make the greatest impact on children and families,” said Sarena Dacus, executive director of FAMILY Inc. “We know this is the beginning of a critical partnership between family support and direct public health services.”

Boys Town’s IHFS Program has been work to ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of children since 1989, while FAMILY Inc. has provided maternal and child health services to families in Pottawattamie and Mills counties in southwest Iowa since 1991.

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