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Helping-families-solve-problems-on-their-ownBoys Town: Helping families solve problems on their ownSouth Florida
South Florida Family
Monday, Dec 4, 2017

This article was posted on on ​​November 29, 2017.

What does Boys Town do?

Founded in Omaha, Nebraska, in December 1917 by Father Edward Flanagan, Boys Town celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year. Originally a home for orphaned and wayward boys, Boys Town began accepting girls into its programs in 1979. Over its century of service to America's children, families and communities, the organization has brought life-changing care to those in greatest need, developed research in youth and health care that has led to improved, more-effective practices, and advocated for reform in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

In the 1980s, Boys Town expanded its locations and programs in order to reach more children and families. This expansion saw Boys Town affiliate sites develop in numerous cities across the country. Boys Town South Florida was established in 1991 to provide effective, compassionate treatment for the behavioral, emotional and physical problems of children and families in communities across South Florida.

How does your agency benefit the community?

Boys Town South Florida services take the unique approach of identifying and addressing family problems early, before they reach a crisis where children have to be removed from the home. This is generally more effective and less costly than placing children in more expensive programs, like foster care and residential treatment. It also ensures that families receive the right care, at the right time, in the right way.

When society fails to support vulnerable youth, particularly at critical times in their lives, it ends up spending enormous sums of money on the consequences of that failure – higher dropout rates, criminal behavior and drug use. In recent years, this cause-effect relationship has put a greater emphasis on reaching the very young child, a concept reinforced by brain research and the logical case for early intervention and prevention.

By identifying at-risk children early and providing them and their families with the assistance they need, Boys Town South Florida helps kids stay out of the social services system and stay in their homes, setting the stage for future success. When children can live in a safe, nurturing home, they are more likely to succeed in school and in life. With improved skills, parents and other caregivers can provide proper guidance for their kids and solve family problems on their own, while society can save millions of dollars on social services.

What is your agency's focus for 2017?

Boys Town South Florida will continue to promote and market the services we provide so more families have access to the help and support they need.

We will continue to grow awareness about our services and reach out to individuals and businesses that can help support our mission. This will enable us to provide effective, high-quality care to more children and families.

We also will promote the 100th anniversary of Boys Town as a national organization, and stress the strong connection we have as an affiliate site in terms of program development, research and evidence-basing, all of which enable us to consistently produce positive outcomes.

How can the community help?

We rely on the ongoing support and generosity of the community to carry out our mission. Opportunities to partner with Boys Town South Florida include:

-Donations: Monetary gifts of any amount help support our programs.

-In-kind gifts: We accept gift cards and certificates as well as household items.

-Event donations: Tickets to community and sports events allow the kids and families we serve to enjoy special times together.

-Event sponsorships: Individuals and businesses can sponsor and attend our events throughout the year.

-Volunteering: The time and talents of volunteers are always welcome.

-Facility use: We have an ongoing need for host sites for our Common Sense Parenting classes.


Changing the way America cares for children, families and communities by providing and promoting an Integrated Continuum of Care® that instills Boys Town values to strengthen body, mind and spirit.


Common Sense Parenting® (CSP) classes: Provide parenting advice and guidance that can be used by any family. The program's easy-to-learn techniques address issues of communication, discipline, relationships, self-control and school success. The proactive skills and techniques taught in these classes have helped parents from diverse backgrounds create healthy family relationships that foster safety and well-being at home, in school and in the community. Professional parent-trainers teach the courses.

Care Coordination Services program: Provides a lifeline to children suffering from behavioral and mental health issues by ensuring they receive care at the right time. In this intensive, family-centered case management program, Boys Town consultants help parents and caregivers navigate, access and monitor the services their children need. Boys Town is a core partner in the Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative in Palm Beach County.

In-Home Family Services program: Helps to keep struggling families together. Trained family consultants work in the homes of families to enhance parenting skills, make sure children are safe and enable families to solve problems on their own.

Parent-Child Home program: In partnership with the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition, we provide the program to families with very young children. This home-visiting program promotes early literacy, nurturing and positive parenting.

Primary Project: Is available in select Palm Beach County elementary schools. Primary Project's goals include improving students' adjustment to school and enhancing their social and emotional well-being.

BOYS TOWN SOUTH FLORIDA, 3111 S. Dixie Highway, No. 200, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. 561-612-6000;

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latoya-davenport-named-40-under-40-on-legacy-power-2017-listLaToya Davenport Named 40 under 40 on Legacy Power 2017 ListSouth Florida
LaToya Davenport
Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017

LaToya Davenport, Boys Town South Florida Director of Program Support Services, was recently honored on Legacy Magazines' 40 Under 40 list of recognized professionals. Over 200 nominations were submitted from across South Florida and 40 individuals who have made a significant impact in their professional careers and local community were chosen for the honor.

Legacy Magazine was founded in 2004 as the premier publication for South Florida's black influencers and affluences. This award recognizes leaders who are key change makers in their communities, bring new energy and advance South Florida as a center for diverse ideas and innovations.

"My nomination described my 13 years of professional work experience and contributions I've made across the state of Florida within the child welfare field, and my volunteer work with numerous community service organizations." LaToya said.

LaToya was nominated by Dr. Wesley Mills, M.D. of Mills Primary Care & Sports Medicine, a former colleague and close friend. The two served on the National Urban League Young Professionals Network Board of Directors together and their professional experience helping young professionals prompted Dr. Mills to nominate LaToya. The nominations were ultimately reviewed and honorees were chosen by the CEO of Legacy MIA Media Group, Dexter Bridgeman and the Editor in Chief, Russell Motley.

"LaToya has demonstrated tremendous growth professionally and personally over the last 13 years. She not only makes extraordinary contributions daily in her role as the Director of Program Support Services for Boys Town, but she also willingly shares her gifts, talents, keen-eye and expertise with others in her local community and throughout Florida." The nomination reads. "LaToya is always volunteering whether it's through her job's numerous community fundraising activities, mentoring youth through her sorority and the Urban League or consulting with or providing consultation services to other non-profits to ensure excellence on every level."

Davenport contributes much of her professional success to her current role as Boys Town South Florida Director of Program Support Services. During her time at Boys Town, LaToya has had many leadership opportunities including her participation in the Nonprofit First Rising Leader Program and opportunities to attend and present at varies conferences.

"Boys Town has provided me with numerous leadership development opportunities," LaToya said. "This position has also allowed me to network and build professional relationships across the entire state of Florida and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work for such an amazing organization that allows me to do work I am very passionate about."

Legacy held an award event on Friday, October 6, 2017 at the Hilton Miami Airport in Miami, Florida. The events theme was "Honoring South Florida's 2017 40 Under 40 Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow." Some of the honorees, including LaToya, were selected to participate in a photoshoot and be featured on the front cover of the magazine.

"I am honored to be selected alongside other young and elite professional leaders in our community from CEO's and business owners to judges, lawyers, doctors, etc." Davenport said.  "It was such a humbling experience to be recognized for the years of hard work and dedication I have given to my career and to my community. Our success comes not so much from what we do (our job), but how well we do it (our passion for our job)."

jill-marchitello-awarded-fccs-support-staff-of-the-yearJill Marchitello Awarded FCC’s Support Staff of the YearSouth Florida
Jill Marchitello
Friday, Sep 29, 2017

On Tuesday, July 26, 2017, Jill Marchitello, Boys Town South Florida Admission Specialist, received the Florida Coalition for Children's (FCC) Support Staff of the Year Award.

Marchitello was one of 15 individuals awarded at the FCC's annual conference, which hosts more than 600 attendees and focuses on the agencies and individuals who work with Florida's vulnerable children and youth. Marchitello's passion for helping children and families prompted her supervisor, Pam Heck, to nominate her for this annual award from the FCC.

"I nominated Jill because she consistently goes above and beyond for all of our families and staff." Pam Heck said.  "She also has excellent relationships with our referral sources.  They constantly remark at how much they enjoy referring to Boys Town because of working with Jill.  She is efficient, quick about responding to their needs and keeps them in the loop with the status of the referral."

"The nomination came as a surprise to me," Marchitello said. "I was very honored."

Marchitello began her career at Boys Town more than 17 years ago. She started as a Care Coordination Consultant for the South Florida site before spending a little over five years as a Family Consultant for In-Home Family Services. She then transitioned to a part-time position for a few years while she started her family. Today, Marchitello serves as the Admission Specialist for In-Home Family Services.

"It's a good feeling knowing that I'm making a difference in the lives of children and families every day," Jill said.

Marchitello spends her days receiving referrals for the South Florida site, making sure children meet criteria for the programs, and ensuring each family receives the right services all while working with several community agencies within the West Palm Beach and Broward communities.

"Jill has streamlined a number of our referral processes and tracking.  She has made our program run smoothly and efficiently. She really is the one that engages our families before anyone else ever sees them." Heck said. "There are a number of families that would have declined our services, but due to Jill's care and concern they are open to that initial visit."

The FCC is an organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of Florida's abused, abandoned, neglected and at risk children while supporting the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf. The vision of the Coalition is to see a system of child welfare in Florida that is fully resourced, well managed and fulfills the needs of Florida's vulnerable children and families.

bt-s-florida-employees-monkey-aroundBoys Town South Florida Employees Monkey Around at Zoo EventSouth Florida
Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017

​Boys Town South Florida recently held a fun fill day at the Palm Beach Zoo in celebration of Boys Town's 100th anniversary. Over 130 employees and their families attended the all-day employee appreciation event held on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

Each year, Boys Town South Florida hosts an employee and family picnic, but in honor of Boys Town's 100th anniversary, they opted for a larger employee appreciation event. All those in attendance were provided back packs filled with water bottles, mini fans and t-shirts to wear at the event.

"The goodie bags were a great addition to this day, especially with the Florida heat," LaToya Davenport Director of Program Support Services said. "The mini fans were used throughout the day."

Employees and their families were able to explore and enjoy the zoo all day. Davenport coordinated with the Palm Beach Zoo to set up a private area complete with a buffet for those in attendance to enjoy lunch. Staff and their families were also able to enjoy an up close and personal private animal experience where they were able to take photos with the animals and even touch some of them.

"This event took some time to plan, but the end result was worth it!" LaToya said. "Staff loved the event and their families had a ball!"

"It was nice to meet our employees' family members. Their support and sacrifice helps our staff help others," said Amy Simpson, Boys Town South Florida Executive Director. "It was also fun watching all of the kids play in fountains after the Zoo day had ended!"

First-Rising-Leader-ProgramEmployee Graduates from Nonprofits First Rising Leader ProgramAll, South Florida
Rising Leaders
Friday, Aug 4, 2017

​Pam Heck, Boys Town South Florida In-Home Family Services (IHFS) and Common Sense Parenting Director, recently graduated from the Nonprofits First Rising Leader program. The Nonprofits First Rising Leader program is a 6 month long course for leaders in the nonprofit sector looking to improve on a variety of different skills.

Potential candidates go through an application process, interview and must be recommended by their supervisors in order to participate in the program.

"I decided to participate in the program because I'm always eager and willing to learn more," Pam said. "I also saw this as an opportunity to develop a network of peers within Palm Beach County."

Through classroom work, a weekend retreat, ropes course, experiential work and a service project, those in the program focus on public speaking, strategic planning and project management and many other important skills. The ropes course is designed to promote team building and help individuals learn to communicate as a team. The weekend retreat is centered on improving public speaking skills and helping leaders become more comfortable talking in front of others. The course also includes an assessment and additional instruction to help leaders implement what they learned during the course into the workplace.

"I learned the importance of networking and having key relationships within the community as a part of helping the strategic plan of building programs," Heck said.

As a result of the valuable information taught during the Nonprofits First Rising Leader program and the relationships Pam developed within the community, she was able to apply what she learned and partner with Lord's Place, a local transitional housing for families. This organization integrated Common Sense Parenting® classes into their program for residents due to the benefits of the classes.

"This has been instrumental in developing our program and has also helped to build the program at the Lord's Place," Pam said.

Participants dedicate a majority of their time throughout the course to a group service learning project. Pam's team worked for Ike Powell, the head of My Brother's Keeper, to create a new video. This organization is a coalition of public and private entities that work together to improve the life outcome for boys and young men of color through education, employment opportunities and many other initiatives.

Despite having no prior experience with video production, Pam's group utilized connections within the community to develop a new video at no cost to the organization.

"PBCTV Channel 20 was able to do the video shoot and editing for My Brother's Keeper," Pam said. "This was a great way to utilize thinking outside of the box and to know who to ask when you need help."

Heck feels the program has helped her immensely with her current role. "Completing the program is a huge accomplishment," Pam said. "The network of colleagues that I developed in the class will be a great resource in the future as I grow and develop the programs."​

boys-town-south-florida-hosts-open-house-and-statue-revealBoys Town South Florida Hosts Open House and Statue RevealSouth Florida
Boys Town South Florida Open House
Monday, Jul 17, 2017

​Boys Town South Florida celebrated the opening of their new office located on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard at the Forum Building. The open house provided an opportunity for the members of the community to visit with more than 100+Boys Town staff who do their part every day to touch the lives of over 4,000 at-risk youth and families in the South Florida community.

The event also celebrated the reveal of the new "The Work Continues" statue for the site. "This statue represents the children and families Boys Town serves in communities across the country," said Amy Simpson, Boys Town South Florida Executive Director. "It replaces the iconic Two Brothers statue as a symbol of Boys Town's work now and into the future."

Boys Town South Florida hosted the Ambassadors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches for this event, who highlighted Simpson and members of the board of trustees at the new office ribbon cutting. Dan Overbey, Chairman of the South Florida Board of Trustees, also shared his testimonial on his continued involvement with Boys Town and his dedication to saving children and healing families.

south-floridas-25th-annual-basket-brigade-serves-hundredsSouth Florida’s 25th Annual Basket Brigade Serves HundredsSouth Florida
South Florida Basket Brigade
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

​​​​​​Thousands of people in need have been provided with holiday meals every Thanksgiving for the past 25 years due to the generosity of many caring volunteers at Boys Town South Florida’s Basket Brigade.

This year, more than 100 volunteers gathered on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Boys Town South Florida’s campus in preparation for the 25th annual Basket Brigade. More than 20,000 pounds of food was packed into baskets throughout the duration of the event.

The Basket Brigade is an annual food drive held by Boys Town South Florida to support families in need within the community. Every year, thousands of families in Palm Beach and Broward Counties are not able to afford the ingredients needed in order to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Boys Town believes that by helping children and healing families, memories created during the holidays are also created in the kitchen where children and parents come together to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.

This event provides individuals with a basket containing a full holiday meal to enjoy with their family. The contents of the basket include: a large turkey, five pounds of potatoes, dinner rolls for the whole family, two cans of vegetables, a box of stuffing, and one can of cranberry sauce, one box of Jell-O and dessert.

Boys Town South Florida’s annual Basket Brigade is funded by both corporate sponsors and by volunteers who raise money. Volunteers are broken up into teams of 10, but all volunteers raise money individually through donations to add to the fund to purchase food for the families.

Every penny is used to help provide families in need with a Thanksgiving meal. Thanks to the help of the numerous volunteers who spent their Saturday filling baskets for people within their community, Boys Town South Florida was able to serve 310 families, an increase from the 250 families served last year.

Boys Town South Florida extends a thank you to sponsors and volunteers who helped make the 25th annual Basket Brigade a success!

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthSouth Florida
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​​​​​​​This story aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was posted on on December 25, 2016.

"There's no place like home." Rarely is that truer than this time of year. Our Christmas Cover Story is all about a very special home for some very needy children, as reported by Tony Dokoupil:

Right near the midpoint of America, ten miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska, there's a town that sits between childhood and whatever comes after.

"These young people are about to become citizens of the most famous village in the world," said Father Stephen Boes at a swearing-in ceremony.

In this town, almost every kid is at a crossroads -- and the goal of all the grown-ups here is to help kids leave Boys Town behind.

"I do solemnly promise … that I will be a good citizen."

Eighteen-year-old Chase Pruss, from Dodge, Neb., was sworn in here six months ago --  arriving, like a lot of the kids, straight from jail.

"I took the school safe," he said.  "Just for money. For Beer money. And gas money. And buy cigarettes."

Two more break-ins followed, and Pruss ended up arrested in front of his bewildered parents. "My mom was crying, my dad was crying," he said.

He had run through four different schools, stolen and lied.

And he faced 80 years in prison, ​until a judge helped get him into Boys Town. "I ​​had that mindset of, "I never want to ever ​put myself in the position where I could land myself back in an orange jumpsuit," Pruss said. "I never ​wanted my ​jail ID ​number to say ​who I was."

Andre Harris (right) in class at Boys Town. CBS News

Seventeen-year-old Andre Harris came to Boys Town the same way.  Nearly three years ago, back in Amarillo, Texas, he stole a car, and ended up in juvenile detention.

"I didn't feel like I was gonna amount to anything after that," he told Dokoupil.  

Frankly, he didn't think he'd amount to much before jail, either. College seemed out of reach. He can't remember hearing someone say they were proud of him.

Dokoupil said of Boys Town, "More felons per capita here than any town in Nebraska."

"Probably!" Harris laughed. "But we're all doing our best to change."

Almost every week here at Boys Town, new boys (and since 1979, new girls, too) are sent by social workers, judges and desperate parents. Most of the kids have been unable to live anywhere else without getting in trouble.

And Boys Town is their last chance.

"A lot of people would say they're bad kids," Dokoupil said. "Is that how they see themselves when they get here?"

"Some of our kids do," replied Tony Jones, one of Boys Town's "family teachers." "They see themselves as, you know, on the bottom of the totem pole."

And how do they change that mindset? "You show them that this is your decision. This is your life."

Jones and his wife, Simone, run one of 55 homes on campus. Eight Boys Town children live there like a family, alongside the Jones' three biological kids.

"Every single young man that has come through my home has now become a part of my family," Jones said.

This is a large part of what makes Boys Town so powerful; all 360 kids living here have paid Boys Town parents like Tony and Simone.

"It's a professional, full-time Dad, brother, uncle, cousin -- whatever my boys may need me to be at that particular time in their life, that, then, is who I become for them," Jones said.

Tony Jones and his wife, Simone, and three children share their home with eight Boys Town students. CBS News​

He began at Boys Town as a boy himself. He was born to a shattered family in Detroit. "I can recall my brother and I standing at a bus stop, and it was in the dead of winter. And we only had one pair of socks to share between the two us," Jones laughed.

But then a priest gave the Jones brothers a chance to change their lives at Boys Town. "It was a total transformation," he said.

Dokoupil asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had said no to Boys Town?"

"Oh, two places: I would either be incarcerated, or I would be dead."

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. CBS News

The Jones story is typical of a hundred years of stories at Boys Town, which began in 1917 as Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. The most beloved clergyman in America, he created arguably the most famous reform school in the world.

Of his charges, Father Flanagan said, "His bruised and tortured heart and mind must be nursed back to normal health through kindness."

You may remember a 1938-Oscar winning movie about the place starring Spencer Tracy. But what you probably don't know is it's a real town, with a real post office and police department.

At about $65,000 per student per year, Boys Town is comparable to a top private college -- and it's mostly taxpayers footing the bill.

But taxpayers pay for prisons, too -- more than $39 billion a year nationally. Boys Town says it can help keep those prison cells empty, while nearly doubling the chance that these students will graduate from high school.

Dokoupil asked Jones, "How do you avoid coming in and being just another person telling them all the things they're doing wrong?"

"By telling them all the things they're doing right," Jones replied. "That's how you help kids change. It's being able to say, 'Hey, young man, you did a good job this morning getting up.'"

"It almost sounds like a joke."

"Well, you know something? That little praise goes a long way."

That little praise goes all the way back to Father Flanagan's ​founding idea: "There are no bad boys."

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful … well, the results say otherwise.

When asked where he would be without Boys Town, Chase Pruss replied, "I'd be in lockup." As did another.

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful, just listen to the results. Tesharr said, "I've been here for a short amount of time. But since my first day I didn't feel like I was in a place where I couldn't leave. I felt like I was home."

Of course, the Boys Town way does not work for every child who comes here; there are failures. But for Chase's parents, Dan and Trish, it's been nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dokoupil asked them, "Who was Chase before Boys Town and who is he today?"

"He was dishonest, disrespectful, a thief," said his mother. "And now he is the Chase that I always wanted him to be."

For Andre Harris, the change has been no less dramatic since stealing that car. "It's not even the same person," he said.

And how is he different? "My actions, the way I speak. I've grown up. I've become a young man."

He's a school leader now … a star on the track team … and he's just found out he's headed to college next year.

But first, he's headed to Amarillo for the holidays … a place he hasn't seen in nearly three years. It's a place that Boys Town has been preparing him for since the very day he made his grand theft exit:

It's home.

"This is my Christmas gift," Robert Harris told Dokoupil. "This is all I wanted!"

Andre Harris is welcomed by neighbors back home in Amarillo, Texas. CBS News
holiday-celebrations-at-boys-town-south-floridaHoliday Celebrations at Boys Town South FloridaSouth Florida
Gingerbread houses
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​Holiday season at Boys Town South Florida is filled with a few employee celebrations and a large gift drive. A holiday luncheon is held yearly for all employees. Employees come decked out in ugly Christmas sweaters and fun costumes to get into the holiday spirit. Different activities such as ginger bread house making, music and games are available for staff to participate in and enjoy themselves. The event is centered on employee appreciation and honoring their hard work throughout the year.

The large Hope for the Holidays gift drive is about providing youth in the programs with Christmas presents. Donors are given the option of either buying gifts from a wish list or providing money to purchase the gifts for the children on their behalf. This provides many children with their dream presents every year.​

South-Florida-Hosts-Boys-Town-Movie-and-Oscar-EventSouth Florida Hosts Boys Town Movie and Oscar EventSouth Florida
Saturday, Nov 12, 2016

​​Boys Town South Florida recently partnered with iPic Theater in Boca Raton to hold their Boys Town Movie and Oscar Event in honor of their 25th Anniversary. The purpose of this event was to screen the Boys Town movie and celebrate the history and success of Boys Town South Florida over their 25 years of service. The Boys Town movie was released in 1938 and depicts Father Flanagan's work and mission, starring Spencer Tracy.

"Many weren't aware of the history and legacy that continues in our daily work," said Amy Simpson, Executive Director of Boys Town South Florida.

Guests attended the private showing at the luxury theatre and enjoyed dinner, cocktails and desserts provided by the theatre from the comfort of their seats. Before the showing, Tom Lynch, National Director of Community Programs at the Hall of History, provided attendees with a history lesson of the films background.

According to Simpson, guests were really touched by the movie itself. Attendees were also happy to take a break from preparing for the approaching hurricane and enjoy a relaxing, educational movie night.

Following the showing, Lynch brought out the original Oscar won by Spencer Tracy for best actor in his depiction of Father Flanagan. Guests were given the opportunity to hold the Oscar that originally brought awareness to Father Flanagan's mission in its early days.

"Everyone loved having the opportunity to see the Oscar in person," Simpson said. "Everyone who held it remarked: Wow this IS heavy."

Boys Town South Florida hopes to hold a similar event in the future and extends a thank you to Tom Lynch for his presentation on the history of Boys Town and for managing to get an Oscar through TSA.

Congratulations to Boys Town South Florida on their 25th Anniversary of serving children and families! ​

parents-find-healing-for-preschool-daughter-at-Boys-Town-South-Florida-clinicParents Find Healing for Preschool Daughter at Boys Town South Florida ClinicSouth Florida
Thursday, Oct 20, 2016

​​​Four-year-old Renee had serious problems, problems her parents, Jeff and Rebecca, knew they couldn't fix by themselves.

When Renee's pediatrician referred the family to Boys Town South Florida's Behavioral Health Clinic, Jeff and Rebecca were both relieved and apprehensive. They'd finally found a place where Renee could get the help she needed but there was no guarantee that their family nightmare would be over.

Renee threw intense tantrums that sometimes lasted two hours or more. She had difficulty telling her parents what she wanted, she refused to eat most of the food they served her and she suffered both nighttime and daytime wetting. These symptoms had worsened over the past year, making it difficult for Renee to go to preschool and make friends with other kids.

The tantrums were the biggest stumbling block. Renee threw objects, screamed, hit herself and bit her own hand. When Renee was on a rampage, the entire household was thrown into chaos and it was all Jeff and Rebecca could do to keep Renee from seriously injuring herself, let alone try to stop the violent behaviors.

During her initial interview with staff at the Boys Town Clinic, Renee was almost entirely nonverbal and wet herself without alerting her parents. Staff members also learned that a number of previous service providers had considered a possible diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Over a five-month period with the Clinic's professionals, Renee underwent intense treatment for her tantrums and Jeff and Rebecca learned skills and strategies that focused on improving their daughter's ability to follow their instructions. The couple also learned how to address Renee's communication issues, her refusal to eat and her wetting habits. In later treatment sessions, Renee joined her parents so they could observe, learn and receive feedback on their responses from staff.

It was a difficult journey for the family, but over time, Renee got better. In the month after treatment ended, she had only one temper tantrum and did not bite her hand at all. She had not wet her bed and had only one daytime accident. Most importantly, she is communicating at an age-appropriate level and is much more affectionate with her parents. In follow-up Clinic visits, Rebecca and Jeff noted that much of Renee's progress stems from their improved patience, clear instructions and having more positive interactions than negative interactions in their home. This has helped the couple feel more confident in their ability to maintain progress moving forward.

Thanks to Boys Town South Florida, a family that was on the brink is now on solid ground again!

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.​

family-weathers-storm-of-turmoil-to-grow-closer-strongerFamily Weathers Storm of Turmoil to Grow Closer, Stronger South Florida
Thursday, Oct 20, 2016

​​Christine and Jake Fox weren't surprised the day an investigator from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) knocked on their door.

Their family was spinning out of control.  The couple couldn't control the behavior of their 15-year-old daughter, Mariah. Danny, their 11-year-old son, had lots of special needs.  After the family moved to Florida so Jake could start a better job, the company he worked for suddenly closed, leaving the family without a steady income and stranded far from its support system.

DCF visited the Foxes' home after receiving a report that Mariah was using drugs, skipping school and engaging in risky sexual behavior.  Danny had been diagnosed with multiple developmental, physical and behavioral issues.  He would often throw tantrums and physically fight with Mariah.  Christine and Jake had to call the police almost weekly to stop the kids from hurting each other. 

With all this turmoil and instability, Christine and Jake were frustrated and feeling hopeless. So when the DCF investigator mentioned Boys Town South Florida's In-Home Family Services® as a possible source of assistance, the couple begged him to refer the family for an intervention.

When a Boys Town Family Consultant first met with Jake and Christine, they felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  Finally, they had someone who was willing to listen to and understand their problems.  Together, the Family Consultant and the Foxes began to develop a plan to heal the family.

First, they worked on parenting.  Christine and Jake had resorted to yelling, grounding, screaming and hitting when it came to trying to discipline Mariah and Danny. When none of those worked, they just gave up.  The Family Consultant taught them a better, more positive approach that involved giving praise for good behavior and consequences for negative behavior, communicating more clearly and using daily chore charts. Christine and Jake also learned to use the "ABCs" (antecedent-behavior-consequence) to identify their children's behavioral patterns.

But just telling someone how to do something really doesn't produce lasting changes. The Family Consultant also observed the couple's interactions with their children and provided support and coaching in how best to use the new skills.  As Christine and Jake began to set clear expectations for behavior and followed through with consequences, Mariah's demeanor and behaviors gradually began to improve. The door-slamming, curfew-breaking, screaming teenager who had brought such chaos to the family's home started to become their daughter again. With positive reinforcement of his appropriate behavior, Danny also improved and his daily tantrums stopped completely.

Next, they worked on budgeting.  By this time, Jake had found a new job. But his pay was much lower and any unexpected expense created a real catastrophe for the family.  And because they were so far from relatives and friends, they really had nowhere to turn for help. With the Consultant's guidance, Christine and Jake developed a budget sheet that detailed all their bills and gave them a clear picture for how to manage their income and what they owed. They also created a "family allowance," which enabled them to put any money that was left over after all the bills were paid into a savings account for emergencies.  The allowance gave the family a plan for making special purchases they could afford, and prevented them from stressing out or fighting over money.  

The final piece to the puzzle was connecting the Fox family more closely to the community in order to develop a strong local support system. Together, they found a church nearby that had free summer activities for both kids, as well as a parenting group.  Christine and Jake were initially hesitant to join. But when they attended their first meeting with the parenting group, they were surprised to meet another couple from their hometown.  Both couples had mutual acquaintances from back home and their kids were about the same age. The couples bonded and their relationship led Christine and Jake to start friendships with other church members.

The Foxes know that every day will still bring challenges. But with Boys Town South Florida's help and a deep desire to be a stronger, caring family, they are prepared for whatever comes their way.

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.​

lessons-learned-through-Boys-Town-program-lift-up-mom-daughter-and-familyLessons Learned through Boys Town Program Lift Up Mom, Daughter and FamilySouth Florida
Thursday, Oct 20, 2016

​​Sometimes, a Boys Town program that's designed to help a child turns out to be a blessing for the whole family.

That was the case when Margot and her 3-year-old daughter Delilah started the Boys Town South Florida Parent-Child Home Program.

In the program, Home Visitors work with parents of 2- and 3-year-olds, focusing on language and pre-literacy skills, and positive parent-child interactions. Using specially selected books and educational toys and activities, Home Visitors help parents understand that they are their children's first and most important teacher, and show them how to generate enthusiasm for learning in their children. Home Visitors also role model for parents how to appropriately use the program materials with children to promote verbal interactions, parent-child bonding and school readiness. Each program year has 23 weeks of home visits and 46 total visits. Research has shown that families benefit the most by spending at least 18 months in the program, which is free to parents.

When Margot and Delilah started seeing their Home Visitor, Margo often would share her personal problems. Although it was great that Margot felt comfortable confiding in someone, the Home Visitor had to work to maintain boundaries; Home Visitors are not therapists and have a set purpose for every visit. So the Home Visitor set aside time at the end of every visit to listen to Margot and encouraged her to seek professional help.  This strategy was successful in that it helped a mom maintain her sanity during a difficult time in her life and also encouraged her to spend quality time with her daughter. 

By the end of the first program year, Delilah and her mother had developed a very special bond and the toddler had learned all of the basic concepts taught by the Home Visitor.

Unfortunately, Margot's personal problems were overwhelming and she fell into depression. During the home visits, she spent most of the time crying, making it necessary for other family members to sit in for her. This affected Delilah, who also became sad and wasn't able to concentrate on the Home Visitor's teaching. The Home Visitor finally confronted Margot about how her actions were negatively affecting Delilah. Margot realized then that she needed to deal with her personal issues through professional help and be a strong, positive parent for her children.

From that point forward, Margot made a conscious effort to stay in good spirits in front of Delilah and her other children. By the end of the second program year, the family had found a great support system and Margot was successfully dealing with her issues through therapy.

Delilah recently graduated from the program and continues to thrive both academically and in her relationship with her mom. And Margot sees the support she received from the Home Visitor as a blessing to her whole​ family and a constant reminder of the importance of spending quality time with her children.

The Parent-Child Home Program is supported by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County and Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, a special district created by Palm Beach County voters that provides leadership, funding and research on behalf of the county's children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.

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.​

a-child-saved-a-life-recoveredA Child Saved, A Life RecoveredSouth Florida
Thursday, Oct 20, 2016

​​It would have been easy for David to fall through the cracks.

After all, life seemed to be stacked against him right from the beginning.

Born to drug-addicted parents, David was just a baby when he first entered the foster care system. Sadly, his father died of an overdose and his mother was killed in a car accident when David was 12, and he became a ward of the state. The goal then was to find a permanent, loving adoptive home for the boy. But all of the uncertainty and instability in David's life had taken a terrible toll; to cope, he developed aggressive behaviors that pushed people away and threatened to undermine any attempts to secure a forever family.

David was in a local group home when Boys Town South Florida connected with him. He was receiving therapy and medication management, but staff members at the group home needed help getting David back on track. To complicate matters, the youngster was on probation in the juvenile justice system and was performing at only a second-grade level academically. 

A Consultant from Boys Town's Care Coordination Services® began meeting with David and started to build a relationship. The Consultant talked with him about his goals and pointed out his strengths. In addition to ensuring David was making progress in his therapy sessions, she connected the youngster with a tutor, arranged for him to join a local soccer club and drove him to an animal shelter where he could complete the community service hours required by his probation. The tutor discovered David's struggles were primarily with reading, and that he tended to lash out when frustrated. An assessment revealed David had dyslexia; that diagnosis was a major breakthrough and led to the use of appropriate educational tools that helped David finally experience progress in his studies.

It was a first step toward a full-fledged turnaround. 

As the Boys Town Consultant continued to help David learn better coping skills, he began to understand it was okay to be frustrated as long as he asked for help instead of acting out. They also practiced appropriate responses David could use in different conflict scenarios. One day, another youth was teasing David. Everyone, including David, was surprised when he was able to calmly walk away. For the first time, David felt in control of himself, his emotions and his future.

Today, David is working at his grade level in school, has completed his probation and is becoming the star of his soccer team. His behavior has improved tremendously, and he hasn't displayed any aggressive behaviors for several months.

Most importantly, David has been adopted by a family that understands what he has been through, what he's overcome and what he still needs to do in order to move forward.  It's a brand new home and a brand new life, and David finally can see his brand new future.

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.​

south-florida-employees-complete-nonprofits-first-rising-leader-programSouth Florida Employees Complete Nonprofits First Rising Leader ProgramSouth Florida
Monday, Jul 25, 2016

​​On June 17, LaToya Davenport, Director of Boys Town South Florida Program Support Services, and Lucia Stanfield, Director of Boys Town South Florida In-Home Family Services, graduated from the Nonprofits First’s Rising Leader Program. The Boys Town employees were 2 of 22 nonprofit workers to complete the training.

The program, launched in 2005, was developed to teach participants effective strategies when handling major leadership or organizational challenges in order to help them advance to the next level of personal and professional growth.

The Rising Leader Program spans six months, beginning in January with two consecutive days of training. February through May, the participants attend one day of training each month, with an evening networking event in February. In June, the program hosts an overnight retreat at a South Florida conference center, followed by the program graduation ceremony and celebration later that month.

The curriculum spans a variety of topics, including leadership and communication, negotiation, overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team, and leading change.

“I wanted to make sure that I seize every opportunity to develop as a leader so I can have as many tools in my tool belt, in order to serve my site and my team with the utmost quality and level of excellence that they deserve,” Stanfield said.

Stanfield walked away from the Rising Leader Program with ”a better understanding of the core function of other leadership styles, and how my leadership style can complement their, and vice versa.” This awareness will help her be more productive with her peers at Boys Town.

The program also includes service-learning, where participants spend 10-15 additional hours working on a service project with other members of the program. Davenport’s service-learning group “created a Board Orientation and Volunteer Manual (to include agency strategic plan, CQI plan, updated policies and procedures, and marketing/development plan) for Grandma’s Place, a local emergency placement shelter for children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect.”

Davenport frequently works with Boys Town South Florida’s Board Orientation and Volunteer Manual, so the development of the manuals for Grandma’s Place was something she was familiar with.

“It was quite simple, but just a tad bit different since they are an emergency shelter placement,” she said. “There were different law and contract requirements for both, but my past experience working with foster homes prior to coming to Boys Town was a tremendous plus and made the process go a lot smoother for me and my team.”

The service-learning project taught Davenport a lot about residential treatment facilities from an administration standpoint and how it coincides with Florida law, but she also learned a lot about herself as a leader.

“It taught me a certain level of patience in dealing with difficult situations and people and problem-solving skills I never knew I had,” she said.

Davenport also learned “how to work better in a team setting with different personality types.”

In Stanfield’s service-learning project, she worked with Diabetes Coalition, helping them host a Diabetes Symposium for Medical and Mental Health Professions.

“This experience taught me how to let go of control, and allow other leaders, professionals, and competent individuals do their part in the process,” Stanfield said.

The service-learning project allowed her to recognize individual strengths and learning styles of group members.

“It was very liberating,” she said.

For Davenport, the program gave her an opportunity to step back and look at the daily pressures of her job and look at the bigger picture. She was also able to learn new skills and enhance her preexisting ones.

“Paying attention to your own leadership development will not only make you a better leader but will also make your organization a better organization as well,” she said.

After graduating from the program, Davenport feels that she what she has learned “will help me to become more comfortable in my current role as Director of Program Support Services and with working within any part of the Boys Town organization.”

Stanfield believes that she will be able to “help my team develop into leaders by helping them embrace their individual strengths and leadership styles, so they, too, can grow into future leaders at Boys Town.”

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