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boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthWashington DC
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-washington-dcHoliday Celebrations at Boys Town Washington DCWashington DC
A table of cookies and cupcakes
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​Boys Town Washington DC values employee recognition during the holiday season. Every year, they host an all-staff holiday party for everyone to attend. Each staff member receives an award to recognize their contribution to the mission of Boys Town. One employee from each department is also awarded employee of the year plaques for going above and beyond in their position.

The Family Homes at Boys Town Washington DC also get in the holiday spirit. Every year, they decorate as a family with lights and festive holiday decorations. A large tree is also decorated that sits in the middle of the circle drive where all the Family Homes are located.​

Boys-Town-Washington-DC-Helps-Riley-Family-Stand-TallBoys Town Washington DC Helps Riley Family Stand TallWashington DC
Terrina and her kids, Demaurice and Paris, have a brighter future thanks to Boys Town’s help.
Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016

Terrina Riley literally had nowhere else to go when she first came to Boys Town Washington DC.

But today, thanks to the help of Boys Town Family Consultant Kayma Freeman, Terrina and her family are on their way to a healthy recovery.

Terrina and her children became homeless after they were asked to leave Terrina's father's one-bedroom apartment due to conditions in his lease. With nowhere to live and no transportation, Terrina was at a crossroads. When her children's school attendance became irregular because of the family's situation, Terrina was referred to Boys Town's In-Home Family Services® through a program in which Boys Town Washington DC partners with District of Columbia Public Schools.

Freeman was assigned to the family's case and quickly tapped into community resources so Terrina, son Demaurice and daughter Paris could be placed in an emergency shelter. It wasn't the ideal situation, Freeman said, but it was an important first step in the Riley family's recovery.

"Ms. Riley was in a tough situation," Freeman said. "Being told to leave her father's apartment was rough on everyone. But when we secured a place for them to stay at the emergency shelter, it changed things. Since they had a place to live, she was able to get transportation for her son to attend school. That was the real start to turning things around."

With Demaurice attending school regularly, his grades improved dramatically. And thanks to Freeman's help, Terrina was able to look into renting a more permanent residence and apply for a job. She even obtained a learner's permit to drive and is hoping to get her own car.

Terrina eventually enrolled both of her children in a better school and sought services for her own well-being. Freeman also provided three bags of clothing for Terrina and her children.

In a note to Freeman, Terrina expressed her appreciation:

"…You have allowed me to be myself and because of that, I have matured a lot. It's kinda making me emotional because I wish I wouldn't have met you thru truancy because you're just enough to consider a good friend. Am attached to you in a way I don't feel alone now. Am glad you inspired me and my life, now with these clothes… I feel more completed as a woman. Even tho I am shedding tears… They are tears of JOY!!! I just wanted you to know you have made me GROW!!!"

Freeman says Terrina has lofty goals.

"Ms. Riley has said to me many times that she would love to have her own home where her children can run freely," Freeman said. "She would love to be able to go to school and work to support her and her children. She just wants to stand on her own two feet without having to wait for or rely on anyone."

With the compassionate guidance of Freeman and Boys Town Washington DC, the door is now open for Terrina to follow that dream.

yolanda-vazquez-talks-with-dr-robert-wingfieldYolanda Vazquez talks with Dr. Robert WingfieldWashington DC
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

​​​​​​Yolanda Vazquez talks with Dr. Robert Wingfield, Chief Psychologist of the Boys Town Washington DC Behavioral ​​Health Clinic. They discuss the ​organization and their mission to the community. They also discuss the 100 anniversary of Boys Town.

Follow Boys Town Washington DC on Facebook​ and Twitter.

Taped 12/14/16​

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.

The 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.


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