Team Effort Helps Boys Town Louisiana Youth Find Her Jump Start in Life Print Content Email Content Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 Page Image Page Content Anita’s mother was a drug addict who abandoned her kids when Anita was 14.Anita never met her father; he was in prison for drug-related crimes. With nowhere to go, Anita moved in with her 19-year-old sister, who eventually began to struggle with her own addiction issues. Ultimately, Anita’s sister stopped looking after Anita and left her to take care of herself. Since she never had a stable, loving home environment, Anita struggled in school and started running with a group of other troubled kids. At 16, Anita was arrested for shoplifting. Once Social Services discovered the scope of her neglect, they removed Anita from her sister’s home and placed her at Boys Town Louisiana. After a 30-day stay at the site’s Diagnostic and Assessment services, Anita had made enough progress to move to a Boys Town Family Home. Boys Town Louisiana’s Family Home Program SM gives youth with serious behavioral or emotional problems a second chance at finding a better life. Youth live in family-style homes and receive teaching and care from professionally trained married couples called Family-Teachers ®. The couple and a full-time Assistant Family-Teacher ® provide structured supervision and teach youth social, independent-living and academic skills. At first, things didn’t go so smoothly for Anita in her new Boys Town home. The teen had difficulty adjusting to the house rules and routines, and also struggled in school.After a couple of months, the school began to regularly call Anita’s Family-Teachers to report that she refused to participate in class activities, was disrespectful to her teachers and was spending more time in the principal’s office than in the classroom.“Because of the seriousness of the behavior problems Anita was having in the home and at school, we were extremely concerned that her placement was going to be in serious jeopardy if her behavior didn’t start showing improvement,” said Robert, the Boys Town Consultant for Anita’s home. The misbehavior was serious enough that Robert called a team meeting with Anita and her support team. “There were seven people there,” Robert said. “Even though she didn’t have any family members in her life, Anita had a large support system, including our Boys Town staff, her state worker, her wrap-around service worker and her mentor.”The team discussed with Anita the seriousness of her situation, what she needed to do to keep her placement at Boys Town and how she could go about improving her behavior.With input from Anita and the entire team, a contract was developed for Anita. The contract was very specific about the kind of progress she was expected to make. If Anita met those expectations, she would be allowed to go on two weekly outings with her mentor.“Anita’s mentor had come to play a very large role in her life, especially since her family had abandoned her,” Robert said. “Her mentor gave Anita a positive relationship outside of Boys Town that she really needed. Before the contract, they would go to the movies, out to eat or on some other outing once a week.“Anita’s mentor was very helpful. Her willingness to get involved with helping Anita and to take her on an extra outing was great. And it turned out to be a real turning point.” Following the team meeting, Anita’s behaviors at home and in school improved dramatically and quickly. “Anita was extremely motivated by the contract and by spending extra time with her mentor,” Robert said. “It was a team effort, and we were very pleased to find the right motivator to help Anita start moving in the right direction.” Twelve months later, 17-year-old Anita is doing great in her Family Home and is considered a role model by the other kids. Her school performance and behavior have improved, and she even has a job.“Our individual plan for Anita was really effective,” Robert said. “It just shows that every child is different, and we constantly have to look for what will work for each kid.”It took a team of loving supporters to help Anita find the willingness to change – and it paid off. Anita, once abandoned and lost, is now on the right path with a promising future ahead of her. The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names and details may be changed, and stock photos may be used, to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.