Boys Town offers several programs to help kids, families in the community

This article is written by Harold Reutter of the Grand Island Independent. It was posted on on September 24, 2017.

Boys Town has been serving the Grand Island, Nebraska community since 1989, serving simultaneously as a very high-visibility facility because of its location at 3230 Wildwood Road along Highway 281 south of Grand Island and as a low-key member of the community because relatively few people actually go into that residential treatment center.

"We've added several programs over the years to meet kids and families wherever they're at," said Megan Andrews, site operations director.

Boys Town programs in Omaha and locally include:

Psychiatric residential treatment center: This is Boys Town's highest level of care and also the most restrictive level of care. The facility is located in Omaha, which is the only place where those services are offered. It is intended to serve youth ages 5 to 18 who have more several behavioral and mental health problems.

Intervention and assessment program: This program is offered in the shelter on the east side of Highway 281 south of Grand Island. The average length of stay for a young person was 21 days for the year 2016, although there is a wide variety depending on the young person. Most youth are placed at the shelter by juvenile probation, although private placement is also accepted.

If parents are having difficulties and are not sure what to do, they can place their child at the shelter for a week until treatment options can be devised. The shelter includes a PASS program for Positive Alternatives to School Suspensions. The shelter has an agreement with some area school districts: if a student is suspended, he or she will serve that suspension the intervention and assessment program at the shelter

Family home programs are the third-highest level and third-most restrictive program. Married couples and single adults or parents take in children to live with them as part of the Boys Town Village in Omaha The adults are called family teachers. They usually have six to eight kids living in their homes, with homes designated either for boys or for girls. "The goal is to keep them there at least a year in order to be effective." The system includes support staff who serves as assistant family teachers.

Foster family services: This is the next level of care. Boys Town helps train and support the foster home. A consultant is available for these homes 24/7 in case of a crisis. Foster homes are always needed for older children, with some studies show that kids can be difficult to place in foster homes as early as 4, and the older the kids get, the more difficult they are to place. "We're always looking for good quality homes that are going to take older kids."

Ecological in-home family treatment model: Children stay in their homes as Boys Town helps family members work through conflicts. Boys Town performs assessments to determine what skills, resources and support the family needs to help them be successful and to keep children at home. The consultant coaches and guides parents "right then and there" as they interact with their children. Parents also work on skills such as interviewing for and getting a job, and managing personal finances. In-home family services have been offered in Grand Island for four years, with Boys Town and University of Nebraska Lincoln doing research to provide evidence of the program's effectiveness. The formal name of the program is the ecological in-home family treatment model.

Community support services is the sixth and least-restrictive level of service. Services include a behavioral health clinic in Grand Island, in which families can go in and get assessments or see a therapist in a typical therapy office setting.

Boys Town also offers an alternative K-12 day school in Duncan that educates about 40 students.

To celebrate the Boys Town's Centennial, Boys Town Central Nebraska is inviting the public for a special screening of the Oscar-winning movie "Boys Town" on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Grand Theatre, 316 W. 3rd St. The evening begins with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres from 6 to 7 p.m., with live instrumental music. A showing of the 1938 classic, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, will follow.

People will meet Boys Town Central Nebraska staff and local community leaders who are dedicated saving children and healing families. People can have their picture taken with the Best Actor Oscar that Spencer Tracy earned for his performance.