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former-boys-town-youth-now-helps-others-as-advocate-for-at-risk-kidsFormer Boys Town Youth Now Helps Others as Advocate for At-Risk KidsWashington DC
Sloane provided impactful testimony during a hearing on a federal juvenile justice bill before the House Committee.
Tuesday, Sep 6, 2016

​​How does a 12-year-old cope as he struggles with his father’s substance abuse issues and his parents’ separation?

He argues with his parents, challenging their authority. Over time, he escalates his negative behavior, acting out, using alcohol and drugs, and ​getting into brushes with the law. And school becomes a major source of frustration because he’s failing and not learning.

That was Sloane Baxter’s life as he began the steady descent that would ultimately land him in a youth prison.

At 14, Sloane was arrested for attempting to steal a car. He was placed on probation, but repeated probation violations led to his incarceration at Oak Hill Youth Center.

“Oak Hill was a youth prison,” said Lisette Burton, J.D., Director of National Advocacy at Boys Town Washington DC. “It was an awful place with barbed wire; it looked and functioned like a prison for adults. It has since been shut down.”

Sloane spent several months at the center before his caseworker contacted Boys Town Washington DC about a possible placement in the site’s Family H​ome Program. After Boys Town staff visited with Sloane, everyone agreed it would be a good fit.

“Sloane is a very engaging young man,” Burton said. “He adapted quickly to the structure, skill teaching and family-style environment of the program.”

Besides providing a safe, nurturing home for the teen, Sloane’s Family-Teachers® worked with his caseworker, family members and others to place him in a school that better addressed his educational needs.

“This was a very big deal for him because he had not previously experienced any school success,” Burton said. “Once he was in the right environment, he began to thrive in school.”

Sloane also began to develop and pursue other interests that proved beneficial.

“The boys in his Family Home participated in a summer project called ‘Book in Day,’” Burton said. “This taught them the fundamentals of poetry, how to write poems and basic publishing. They created a book of poetry titled ‘Concrete Dreams’ and published it. Having these kinds of experiences, in addition to learning new skills and building relationships at home and in school, helped propel him forward.”

Sloane was 17 when he left Boys Town and moved home, which had greatly improved during his stay. He graduated from high school and later got an apartment of his own. He continued working at Starbucks – a job he started as an afterschool employee while at Boys Town – and eventually earned a promotion to a supervisor position.

“To this day, Sloane still keeps in touch with his Family-Teachers,” Burton said. “He’s on a great path. The big difference for Sloane is he now utilizes the resources around him, and he has well-developed problem-solving and communication skills. He also has a great relationship with both of his parents today.”

Sloane’s life experiences also have made him an ideal advocate for at-risk children.

In October 2015, Boys Town was advocating for a federal juvenile justice bill with the Chairman of the House Committee on Workforce and Education, Congressman John Kline.

“Chairman Kline previously visited Boys Town in Nebraska, and his staff knew young people from Boys Town had given valuable testimony before. They requested a Boys Town youth to speak at a hearing on juvenile justice,” Burton said. “We asked Sloane if he would be willing and he readily agreed. He was still young enough for his experiences to be fresh and relevant but also older and mature enough to be able to independently determine what he wanted to share and how.”

Burton helped Sloane, then 22, shape his story and experiences into his formal testimony to Congress.

During the hearing, Sloane spoke alongside a judge, a vice president of a large nonprofit organization and a leader who advocates for justice reforms. Sloane was asked pointed questions about his experiences and his opinions on juvenile justice issues.

“Sloane’s testimony was fantastic,” Burton said. “He was actually highlighted in Chairman Kline’s comments after the hearing because it was so impactful. Sloane’s testimony about being incarcerated as a young person and then thriving in a family-style, community-based program like Boys Town’s Family Homes had a big impact on the committee – and that impact is ongoing.”

In May 2016, Chairman Kline and his staff, along with ranking-member Congressman Bobby Scott, contacted Boys Town Washington DC to arrange a visit to a Family Home so they could learn more about the residential program and see it in action.

In addition, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently published a Republican Party policy brief called “A Better Way.” One of the policy’s major initiatives is to lift young people out of poverty and onto the ladder of opportunity.

“In this policy agenda, Sloane’s name and story are highlighted as an example of a young person who participated in the right kind of program that led to long-lasting success,” Burton said. “Also, there is a quote from Sloane where he talks about the fact that things could have gone a lot of different if it wasn’t for a place like Boys Town, and that it still serves as a lifeline for him when he needs it.”

Today, Sloane continues his work as an advocate for Boys Town and at-risk children.

“There is an upcoming youth justice symposium that Sloane wants to attend,” Burton said. “He is a great example of someone who benefited from residential care. And because of that, he wants to give back and continue to help those in similar situations.”

united-states-mint-unveils-designs-for-boys-town-centennial-commemorative-coinsUnited States Mint Unveils Designs for Boys Town Centennial Commemorative CoinsCalifornia, Washington DC
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.

washington-dc-partners-with-industrial-bank-for-community-outreachWashington DC Partners with Industrial Bank for Community OutreachWashington DC
Tuesday, Aug 9, 2016

On July 8, Adrienne ​Walsh, Boys Town Washington DC’s Development Coordinator, hosted a community engagement table at Industrial Bank. Walsh shared information about Boys Town’s programs with the bank’s customers. It was a scorching hot day on the east coast, so customers were happy to see that Walsh was handing out Boys Town fans! Keeping with the summer theme, she also sent them away with seed packets with the saying “Help plant the seeds of change at Boys Town” sprawled across the packaging.

Industrial Bank’s Senior Vice President and Senior Lender, Roderick Johnson, is on the Boys Town Washington DC Board of Directors. Their banking model is based on civic mindfulness. Boys Town Washington DC is thrilled to partner a bank so deeply rooted in the community.

“[They] do a lot of work within the area and with different nonprofits in the community,” Walsh said. Boys Town is fortunate to be one of those nonprofits.”

There are plans in the works to have the bank do financial literacy classes with some of the youth in the Family Home Program in order to teach them about saving money, how to use checking accounts and how to manage a credit card. Since Industrial Bank is located near the DC campus, the booth was a great way for the DC site to further their community engagement specifically within their neighborhood.

Walsh described the bank’s friendly environment as a “true sense of what […] community is.”

“The tellers knew almost every customer that walked in by name,” she said. “And the customers knew everyone from the security guard to the manager who would run out and greet whoever walked in.”

It was that community atmosphere that allowed Walsh to talk to customers and teach them about Boys Town’s efforts.

“A lot of people didn’t know we were in the neighborhood,” Walsh said. “A lot of people knew us because of the movie, but they didn’t realize that we were in DC.”

Walsh was then able to inform the community members about where Boys Town was located and teach them about the different programs. While she talked about the residential programs, she emphasized the community-based services such as Common Sense Parenting® and In-Home Family Services.

“I think community engagement events are really important for affiliate sites to do,” she said. “We have an amazing opportunity to share Father Flanagan’s 100-year-old mission and share the science we put behind that to prove it works. It was exciting show people that we have something so unique right in their own backyard.”

The locality of the programs shows individuals that what Boys Town does is for them and the families in their area.

“Community engagement, particularly in our own neighborhood, is a way to create alliances with the people we are working with and serving every day,” Walsh said.

Thank you to Industrial Bank for their loyal partnership. Companies like them make community engagement possible!

dc-partners-with-men-for-change-for-perseverance-and-decision-makingDC Partners with Men for Change for "Perseverance and Decision Making"Washington DC
Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016

​​On Saturday, May 21, 2016, Boys Town Washington DC partnered with Men for Change, an ​organization dedicated to mentoring, tutoring and providing guidance to youth in the Federalsburg, Maryland area, to hold an event called Perseverance and Decision Making.

event, which hosted six youth from Boys Town, 25 mentees from Men for Change, and eight parents, featured presentations that taught the youth valuable life skills to help them persevere in life.

Donnell Potts, Boys Town Washington DC Family Home Program Director, comprised a team of Boys Town employees to deliver presentations at the event. The presentations ranged from identifying personal role models, to focusing on goals and learning real life statistics. These taught the youth valuable life lessons and allowed the participants to discuss the presentations more in depth in smaller groups.

“Boys Town Washington DC staff did stellar presentations that were engaging, and motivating,” Donnell Potts said following the success of Perseverance and Decision Making. “This experience inspired the group of mentees to know that through making good choices, they open up a world of possibilities.”

The relationship between Boys Town Washington DC and the Men for Change began last year when Donnell Potts was awarded with ​the organization’s Community Impact Award  in November 2015. Since then, the two organizations wanted to bring together their children and families for a fun, educational event.

Following the presentations, children and parents were able to bond even more by sharing a meal and participating in outdoor activities.

“I want to recognize the Family Home super team that helped with hosting the ‘Men for Change’ mentoring group,” said Potts. “Words can’t express my gratitude for their selfless dedication to imparting wisdom to the youth of the ‘Eastern Shore’. This event was special and the presentations they gave were beyond impactful.”

boys-town-washington-dc-celebrates-its-first-racing-for-the-roses-galaBoys Town Washington DC Celebrates its First Racing for the Roses GalaWashington DC
David Child, Boys Town Washington DC Board Member (right)
Friday, Jun 10, 2016

​​On Saturday, May 7, Boys Town Washington DC celebrated a day at the races at its first Racing for the Roses Gala at the Renaissance Washington DC DuPont Circle Hotel. The Kentucky Derby-style event, emceed by Markette Sheppard, hostess of Great Day Washington, featured “the excitement of Churchill Downs without the plane fare”.

The evening began with a cocktail reception, which welcomed guests with a mint julep, followed by a silent auction, games, a hat contest, and a watch party of the horse race. More than 160 guests enjoyed the live bluegrass band and heavy hors d’oeuvres while cheering on their favorite horse.

Racing for the Roses was a success in part of Chairman Mary Lee Malcolm’s work—and her love of hats. With her collection of more than 100 derby-styled hats, Boys Town employees had the opportunity to pick their favorite to enjoy throughout the night.

Special guests included Angela Franco-Gulick, President and CEO of Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Ken Jenkins, retired Washington Redskins player; Marshall Keys, renowned jazz musician; Muriel Bowser, mayor; and Lonnie Sanders, retired NFL player.

“Racing for the Roses was a huge success for our first year of planning,” said Sarah Galvan, Executive Director, Boys Town Washington DC. “I want to thank Mary Lee Malcolm for putting so much time in ensuring that all of our guests had a wonderful time. I am confident and looking forward to this event’s continued growth in the years to come.”

Boys Town thanks the many people who worked diligently to make Racing for the Roses such a success!

spirit-of-family-honors-foster-coupleSpirit of Family Honors Foster CoupleWashington DC
Saturday, May 21, 2016

Each year, Boys Town Washington DC takes time to celebrate all families at its Spirit of Family event.

Hosted by the Foster Family Services program, the event celebrates the cohesiveness of the program’s foster families and biological families. In addition, the site takes time to recognize a foster couple in particular who has really made a difference in carrying out the Boys Town mission.

The recipients of the 2015 Spirit of Family award were Foster Parents Bruce and Tony Jones. Bruce and Tony Jones received the award for fostering a sibling group of six youth and actively involving the foster children’s biological family in all activities. The couple was honored in front of their peers from Foster Family Services, as well as staff from the Family Home Program and In-Home Family Services.

Ebony Lewis, Boys Town Washington DC Foster Family Services Recruiter/Trainer, said the event is a great way to not only honor a couple that has gone above and beyond to bridge the gap between their family and the foster child(ren)’s biological family, but also celebrate the Boys Town mission. She noted: “Each site has unique ways to carry out Father Flanagan’s mission and promoting the well-being of children in our programs.”

Congratulations again to Tony and Bruce Jones on winning this incredible honor and thank you to all employees who live the Boys Town mission every day.

Learn more about being a foster parent.

boys-town-washington-dcs-donnell-potts-awarded-by-men-for-changeBoys Town Washington DC's Donnell Potts Awarded by Men for ChangeWashington DC
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Boys Town employees are great at what they do, so it’s no surprise that they often receive recognition for their contributions to society. Just recently, in fact, Boys Town Washington DC’s Donnell Potts, Family Home Program Director, was named a recipient of the Community Impact Award by the Men for Change Ministry, an organization that provides mentoring, tutoring, and guidance to youth.

Potts, who has been with Boys Town Washington DC for more than 11 years, began as a Family-Teacher. He remained in that position for five years before moving on to the Intervention & Assessment program, working as a Consultant, and finally arriving in his current position as the Family Home Program Director.

Potts says his work is motivated by a passion for “standing in the gaps for kids who don’t have the things other kids have”.

The Men for Change Ministry, located in Potts’ hometown of Federalsburg, Maryland, hosted a banquet event on December 5, with more than 100 local community members in attendance. Senior Program Operations Manager for Boys Town Washington DC, Dwayne Strawder, stated: “Donnell has received multiple awards recognizing his consistent and outstanding work in the community; he is eminently prepared and motivated to make sure the Boys Town mission of ‘saving children and healing families’ is alive and working.”

In addition to being proud to receive the honor, Potts added: “It was important for me to return to the place where I’m from in more of a leadership role.”

Boys Town wishes to congratulate Donnell Potts for this award, and to thank the Men for Change Ministry for recognizing his efforts to provide healing to children and families!

thank-you-marketteThank You Markette!Washington DC
Friday, Feb 12, 2016

Thank you Markette and WUSA 9 for the great shout out on today's Great Day Washington! We were happy to have you and hope you come and visit us again soon! Please watch the video below.

join-us-november-4thJoin Us November 4thWashington DC
Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015

You are invited to a fundraiser for Boys Town Washington DC on Wednesday, November 4th with honored guest Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas at Hunton & Williams. All funds raised this evening will benefit Boys Town Washington DC and our work to save children and heal families right here in the District. RSVP today!

Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be provided. We hope that you will be able to join Senator Cotton and many other guests in business and government for this evening. Your may RSVP online or contact Adrienne Walsh at 202-650-6316 or

If you are unable to attend the event, you can still donate online.


November 04, 2015


6:30 - 8:30 p.m.


Hunton & Williams
2200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20037

dc-opens-behavioral-health-center-welcomes-dr-robert-wingfieldDC Opens Behavioral Health Center, Welcomes Dr. Robert WingfieldWashington DC
L to R: Lori Parker, Dr. Robert Wingfield, Pamela Mantis, John Malcolm and Sarah Galvan.
Tuesday, Sep 29, 2015

Boys Town ​Washington DC is pleased to announce the grand opening of the new Boys Town Washington DC Behavioral Health Center.  Community leaders, members of the court, board members, our kids and staff celebrated this wonderful occasion, Thursday September 24th.

The clinic will create a comprehensive approach to care with a mission to heal childhood behavior problems early, before they develop into more serious health and behavioral issues. Staff will actively work to coordinate care with the family, primary care physician, and school staff to ensure long term success. This method surrounds the family in need with a team of professionals seeking the end to behavioral problems.

The clinic will be led by Chief Psychologist Dr. Robert Wingfield. Dr. Wingfield specializes in individual, group and family therapy, as well as parent training for parents of children and young adults. He will provide psychological testing, behavioral assessments, school consultation, and community training and education on various behavioral health topics. 

“I am excited for the opportunity to increase children and families access to behavioral health services in the Nation’s Capital. Residents of Washington DC and the surrounding counties of Maryland and Northern Virginia deserve evidenced based behavioral health services in close proximity to where they live, work, and attend school,” said Dr. Robert Wingfield. “There are many children, adolescence, young adults, and caregivers who have unmet mental health needs. The Boys Town Washington DC Behavioral Health Clinic is here to provide outpatient services to both males and females from ages 0 – 22 years of age."  

Dr. Wingfield earned his Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Florida with a specialization in behavioral pediatrics. He completed specialized training as a pre-doctoral intern at the Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health in Boys Town, Nebraska, and completed advanced training in behavioral psychology as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Sarah Galvan, Executive Director of Boys Town Washington DC, welcomed Dr. Wingfield and our honored guests. “We are thrilled to announce the grand opening of our new Behavioral Health Center. The new facility will allow us to meet the needs of even more families and children in the surrounding community.” Galvan and the staff of Boys Town Washington DC are proud to have this program added to the five existing Boys Town programs offered throughout the District and surrounding areas.

John Malcolm, echoed the sentiment of his fellow board members when he commented, "In 2017, we will celebrate the centennial of the founding of Boys Town, an organization that has positively touched the lives of thousands of children of both sexes and all races in indelible ways.  This behavioral health clinic will be an integral part of the vital services that Boys Town DC is able to provide to families in need."  John also extended an invitation for all of our supporters to continue to celebrate the work of Boys Town Washington DC at our next two events.  The Planting the Seeds of Hope Fall Harvest Dinner on October 7th to be held on our campus on Sargent Road; and Giving Thanks to Boys Town, to be held at the offices of Hunton & Williams on Pennsylvania Ave downtown, on November 4th.  

We hope to see all the friends of Boys Town Washington DC at each of these events.  For more information and to make your reservation contact Adrienne Walsh at 202-650-6316.

senate-finance-hearing-too-down-on-group-too-rosy-on-foster-parentsSenate Finance Hearing: Too Down on Group, Too Rosy on Foster ParentsWashington DC
Monday, Jun 15, 2015

This article is written by Marie K. Cohen. It was published May 27, 2015 at The Chronicle of Social Change.

On May 19, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled “No Place to Grow Up: How to Safely Reduce Reliance on Foster Care Group Homes.” The hearing was designed to demonstrate that too many foster kids are being placed in group homes for too long.

This appears to be an issue on which there is agreement from both sides of the aisle, uniting liberal sensitivities against “restrictive settings” with conservative desires to save money.

As a former foster care social worker in the District of Columbia, I found that the hearing failed to draw some crucial distinctions. First, residential care is not a placement but an intervention. Nobody believes that young people should be placed in institutions instead of in families. However, some young people need more intensive treatment before they can thrive in a family foster home. Without such treatment, these children often bounce from home to home until they end up pregnant or in the juvenile justice system.

One of my young clients – I’ll call him Quentin for the sake of anonymity – was in a truck which his mother repeatedly drove over her abusive husband, killing him. Quentin went through a series of foster homes, being kicked out of each one until he was finally arrested for car theft at the age of 14 and placed in a juvenile justice facility.

Upon release, he was placed in one of his previous foster homes, and that lasted just three months. Quentin had been skipping school, stealing his foster parent’s liquor and belongings, and smoking marijuana in the home. A psychological evaluation recommended a therapeutic group home to provide the structure and supervision Quentin needed.

But D.C.’s child welfare agency refused to provide a group home placement. We placed Quentin with the only foster parent available: a single parent who treated him as a boarder.

He almost totally stopped attending school and was failing by the time I left my job last January.

The hearing also failed to distinguish between high-quality and lower-quality group homes. Credible research shows that smaller, well-run group homes can be more effective than therapeutic foster care in improving outcomes for foster youth with therapeutic needs. Boys Town Family Homes, for example, are run by married couples (“Teaching Parents”) who live full time in the home and care for six to eight boys.

I visited a Boys Town Home in D.C. that was sunlit and immaculate, with a wall covered with photos of former residents. The “Teaching Parents” had raised their own children in the home and their two-year-old was currently basking in the attention of all his “big brothers.”

My experience was in the District of Columbia, where less than nine percent of foster children are in group homes, as compared to 18 percent of foster children nationwide. If the federal government imposes further restrictions on group homes, other states will be in the same position as the District, where children are being placed in inappropriate family settings. We risk ending up like Australia, which eliminated over half of its residential placements, resulting in the migration of many children to the homeless and juvenile justice systems and a foster care crisis due to the loss of foster parents.

This month’s hearing also failed to differentiate between good and bad foster homes, with witnesses insisting that a family is always better than an institution. Senator Grassley said that children need to be in families so that someone will tuck them in at night. He never met “Ms. V,” a long-time foster parent who worked from 3 pm to 11 pm. She certainly was not available for tucking in “Renee,” a 14-year-old who was severely damaged by 10 years in foster care and repeated rejections by foster and potential adoptive parents.

Ms. V was supposedly a “therapeutic” foster parent and received extra training and compensation in exchange for caring for more troubled young people. But most of the “therapeutic” parents with whom I worked were no different from other foster parents. They provided nothing more than room and board, and had no contact with kids’ schools, therapists, or families. Ms. V refused to attend a meeting at school for Renee, who was failing, telling me, “I would if I cared but I don’t care.”

I am not advocating for group homes as a replacement for inadequate foster homes. But some young people need residential care as a short-term intervention. And for foster youth who can be placed with a family, we need to find loving, caring foster parents who can meet their therapeutic needs. This may require increasing compensation and training for foster parents dealing with older and more troubled youth. The Administration has indicated its support for this approach, and I plan to discuss possible program models in a future post.

Marie K. Cohen is a former child welfare caseworker for Washington, D.C. She previously worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Welfare Information Network, the Center for Law and Social Policy and the University of Maryland Welfare Reform Academy.


boys-town-helps-youth-realize-college-dream-and-discover-gift-of-familyBoys Town Helps Youth Realize College Dream and Discover Gift of Family Washington DC
Friday, May 15, 2015

Many kids with Shona’s life experiences struggle to find hope and success in life. They become discouraged and give up on themselves and their dreams. Shona was heading down that path until Boys Town entered her life.  

Shona’s mother had drifted out of Shona’s life after she was born. Shona lived with her father, but when he was arrested, the 13-year-old was placed in a foster home. It was the first of several foster home placements that would not work out over the next two years.  

When Shona came to Boys Town Washington DC’s Foster Family Services ® , she was in desperate need of a place she could call home.

Louis and Rosalina, her Boys Town Foster Parents, took her in and cared for her as if she was their own daughter. After a rocky adjustment period, Shona began to thrive in the stable, loving home Louis and Rosalina created.     

Six months later, there was an unexpected disruption. Shona’s birth mother, Jackie – with whom Shona had no previous contact – wanted to come back into her life.  

After careful consideration, a decision was made for Shona to live with her mother. Unfortunately, it became clear after only a few months that Jackie didn’t have the financial resources to properly care for Shona.

Jackie knew Shona would be better off returning to her Boys Town Foster Family.   

When Shona went back to live with Louis and Rosalina, she was angry, frustrated and confused. However, she trusted the couple, so she had a sense of safety and belonging. Also, Louis and Rosalina, along with Shona’s social worker, agreed to make it a priority to help Shona stay closely connected with Jackie. All of this helped Shona work through her feelings and cope with the difficult situation.  

With the encouragement and support of her Foster Parents and mother, Shona set a goal to be the first person in her family to attend college.  

In her junior year of high school, Shona began receiving attention for a possible college athletic scholarship in track. Her natural running talent was undeniable, but she was way behind in school and did not meet the academic requirements for a scholarship.

Shona knew what she had to do. With an opportunity to fulfill her dream of going to college, Shona became more determined to reach her goal.

She took summer school classes to catch up. During her senior year, she carried a heavy academic class schedule and worked with a tutor several nights a week, all while continuing to run track. It was a demanding schedule but Shona kept her eye on the prize.   

By the end of her senior year, all of Shona’s hard work paid off. She graduated with the required number of hours and grades, and was able to accept a track scholarship to a local college.  

At Shona’s high school graduation ceremony, Jackie sat alongside Louis and Rosalina as they proudly watched Shona walk across the stage to accept her diploma.

Later that summer, all three helped Shona move into her dorm at college.

Shona went off to college knowing Louis and Rosalina would always be there for her. And she remained hopeful that she could continue to build a new relationship with her mother.

Shona’s dream of going to college had been realized. But she also learned that the most important part of her journey was accepting the gift of family – both from Boys Town and her mother.   

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-of-boys-town-youth-leads-employee-to-boys-townFamily of Boys Town Youth Leads Employee to Boys Town Washington DC
Friday, Apr 3, 2015

Stephanie Pitt, Boys Town Washington DC In-Home Family Services (IHFS) Consultant, has always loved working with youth. Little did she know that mentoring a young girl in her neighborhood would eventually lead her to Boys Town.

Last year, Stephanie was mentoring a young girl when she first heard about Boys Town Washington DC. The girl had a younger brother in the Family Home Program, and after attending her brother’s graduation, the girl told Stephanie that Boys Town would be the perfect fit for her.

“The girl I was mentoring told me that I should look into Boys Town and that all of the people that worked there really cared about the youth,” said Stephanie. “She told me about how she saw so many positive changes in her brother because of Boys Town and that it would be a great fit for me.”

Hearing the youth and her brother talk so highly of Boys Town, Stephanie began researching and looking for job openings. When the IHFS Consultant position opened up, she immediately applied. Stephanie began working for Boys Town in November 2014, and really enjoys the environment and her position.

“I am really impressed by the people and the organization,” said Stephanie. “The experience has been awesome. I have learned so much and love the team.”

“Stephanie has been a great asset to the IHFS program here in DC,” said Harold Morgan, IHFS Supervisor, Boys Town Washington DC. “She builds great rapports with families, always has a smile on her face and has adopted the Boys Town Model ® as her own.”

Stephanie is currently working with nine families, primarily those with elementary school-aged children. She looks forward to continuing to help more children and families with Boys Town.


from-foster-care-to-forever-family-teen-makes-most-of-fresh-startFrom Foster Care to Forever Family, Teen Makes Most of Fresh Start Washington DC
Monday, Mar 30, 2015

What happens to young people when their parents are gone and they have no family to care for them?

For kids like Travis, Boys Town steps in.

Travis’s mother passed away suddenly. The family was poor and nothing had been put away to care for him. The teen’s father had left long ago and there were no friends or relatives who could take in Travis.

Fortunately, Travis was placed in the home of Boys Town Washington DC Foster Parents. They gave him love and became the stable family he needed at a crucial time in his life.

Like many foster children, Travis struggled at times. He had many questions, he still felt alone in the world and he missed his mother.

But Travis’s Foster Parents were there for him. They helped him slowly adjust to his new family, providing guidance and support. Travis also began to establish himself as a good student in school, with regular attendance and improved grades. Most importantly, he learned to trust his new family and his teachers, and to understand that they were trying to do what was best for him.

During this time, Travis’s Foster Parents received support from Boys Town Washington DC. In his first few months with the family, when Travis’s emotions got too intense and erupted in negative behaviors, the site worked with his social worker and Foster Parents to get him the help he needed. With everyone on the same page concerning Travis’s issues and treatment, the teen made great progress in learning self-control and how to express his feelings appropriately.

Travis could have been just another young person who got mired in the system and never reached his full potential. But thanks to Boys Town Washington DC and his dedicated Foster Parents, he escaped the sadness of his earlier life and realized he had a bright future ahead of him.

At age 16, Travis was adopted by his Foster Parents. He graduated from high school, earned a college scholarship and today is working toward a degree in culinary arts. On weekends, he goes home to see his parents.

“I know I wasn’t a very good person when I came to Boys Town,” Travis said. “But no one gave up on me. I can’t say ‘Thank you’ enough to all of the people that believed in me. Because of Boys Town and my Foster Parents, I have a home and a family.”

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-home-program-director-receives-outstanding-fathers-of-prince-georges-county-publicFamily Home Program Director Receives Outstanding Fathers of Prince Georges County Public Schools AwardWashington DC
Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Boys Town Washington DC Family Home Program Director Donnell Potts was the recipient of a Commendation Award at the Outstanding Fathers of Prince Georges County Public Schools Award Ceremony on Feb. 11, 2015. Over 700 people attended including councilmen, school board members, and Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George County Public Schools. The award was given to 198 fathers in the county with a total enrollment of 127,000 students and 208 schools. The event honored one father from each school who was nominated by the principal of their school for their commitment to their children and the community.

“The recognition was truly an honor,” said Donnell Potts. “It was great to be included as one of the leaders in the community and to know that the contributions that I make impact and influence others. All of the fathers received a certificate of recognition on stage and afterwards, we got together to discuss important current events and issues affecting the youth in this county. It was a thought-provoking day!”

“Knowing the hours that Donnell puts into the Family Home Program, developing his staff and implementing processes, I find it amazing that he has the time to devote to his son’s school system,” said Dwayne Strawder, Senior Programs Operations Manager, Boys Town Washington DC. “The majority of the Boys Town Washington DC youth we serve are from single family homes; and that single parent is often compromised themselves. Donnell understands the importance of parental involvement.”

Boys Town Washington DC is in total agreement with his work ethic. “His commitment to the Boys Town Model ®, youth and his staff is shown through his work,” said Strawder. “We see the daily work he puts into this program and his commitment is amazing.He implements processes, ensures staff are following the model, and fills in where ever necessary. You can also find him playing basketball with the youth — being available to them is just as important!”

“Being involved with your child’s life is very important. We can be a key difference to our children’s success in life,” said Potts. “The best experience in receiving this award was having my son present me the award and letting him see that there’s value in helping others. At his young age, my wife and I strive to teach him to give, volunteer and show concern for those who may not have what you have. I bring with me to work at Boys Town too!”

According to a study done by the U. S. Department of Education, it states that if a youth has a highly involved Father that (a) there is a 42% increase that the child will receive A’s and (b) are 33% less likely to be held back a grade.

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