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Boys Town Staff and Boys Town Foster Parents receive NeAHSC Awards

Mandi Ahrens and Andy and Kim Schnatz

Mandi Ahrens and Andy and Kim Schnatz received awards at the Nebraska Association of Homes and Services for Children (NeAHSC) fall conference.

The NeAHSC is a collection of providers across Nebraska that support, promote, and improve the quality of care for children and families through advocacy, education, cooperative efforts among members, and effective communication between providers and the State of Nebraska. Members represent an assortment of in and out of home services to youth and families including child welfare, juvenile justice, and treatment services.

At the fall conference each year, three awards are presented. Award recipients are decided through nomination letters from agency administrators, supervisors, and co-workers. The nomination committee then carefully reviews and selects an individual based on job performance, role model, and level of dedication along with other qualities that make the candidate an outstanding employee.

Youth Care Worker of the Year

Mandi Ahrens, In – Home Family Services ConsultantMandi Ahrens, In – Home Family Services Consultant, received the Youth Care Worker of the Year award after being nominated by Scott G. Butler, Ed.D., Director of Boys Town Day School. Mandi works at the Boys Town Day School where she provides home and community-based services to youth and families, working with up to 10 families at a time.

"This award was very important to show the strong collaboration between home and school. I appreciate that Dr. Butler was willing to open his school doors to someone who does not have an education major. It shows the need for these types of services within the school that can be extended into the home," said Mandi. "The support and collaboration with In-Home Family Services and the Day School has allowed me to use my experience in another important way. I have had a lot of great role models and mentors while working with families and I am excited to continue to do this type of work. I am hoping this allows other schools to open their doors as well to family support type work as it is much needed at this time."

"Mandi is not a professional who leads parents and students to solutions, nor does she push them into certain directions. Mandi embraces her families where they are and walks alongside them," said Butler. "She does this by finding strengths in both the children and the family and builds upon those strengths. If you are a parent who has felt judged or shamed by a school or other organization that has struggled to embrace your child, Mandi's approach brings a seed of hope that maybe, just maybe, my son or daughter has a brighter future than I thought was possible."

Foster Parent(s) of the Year

Andy and Kim Schnatz, Boys Town Foster ParentsMandi was not the only Boys Town representative who was honored during the conference. Andy and Kim Schnatz, Boys Town Foster Parents, also took home an award. They received the Foster Parent(s) of the Year Award. They earned this award by being outstanding contributors to youth in foster care and serving as role models to foster children, their birth parents, and the community. They open their home generously to some of the most vulnerable children, helping live out Father Flanagan's mission of saving children and healing families.

"We are touched on getting this award. There are so many great foster parents out there and for us to be chosen is very humbling. We are so grateful for all the help and support along the way. It really does take a team and we could not have done it for many years without help. Most importantly, we could not have done it without God," Andy and Kim said about winning this award.

The Schnatzes were nominated by Matt Priest, Director of the Foster Family Services program. Priest accepted the award on behalf of Andy and Kim Schnatz and said, "The foster care world needs more families like the Schnatzes. They have taught me everything I have needed in my twenty – year foster care career. They have set an example to others in that they epitomize a team approach to parenting. They have never claimed to be experts in how foster care works when they are exactly that. They've attended support groups and supported other foster parents in their experiences."

We want to thank Mandi and the Schnatz family for their hard work and dedication to Boys Town®. It's because of people like them that we can continue to live out Father Flanagan's mission.