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Boys Town Helps Family Leave Fear Behind, Find Hope and Healing Ahead

Jessmil and her children are a happier family today thanks to their own strength and Boys Town Central Florida's guidance.

Imagine living in fear of your ​child.

Even for the strongest parent, the worry and constant conflict would exact a tremendous toll – depression, anger, frustration and exhaustion.  

This was a way of life for Jessmil Ferrer and her family.

Jessmil’s daughter Ruth had a long history of dangerous and threatening behaviors.  By age 17, Ruth faced six criminal charges related to her verbal and physical aggression, drug use, mental health issues and academic problems.

The teenage girl had created a reign of terror at home for her mother and her two brothers – 13-year-old Kevin and 10-year-old Alexander. The family lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear of what might happen next. 

Jessmil loved her daughter and was desperate to find the help Ruth needed, however, she was also worried about keeping her sons safe. But Ruth’s behavior continued to worsen, and the family’s situation became so toxic that Jessmil wouldn’t get in the same car with her daughter.

Finally, Jessmil reached her breaking point. She wanted Ruth out of the house. 

Jessmil believed her only option was to have Ruth placed in a locked psychiatric facility. 

But shortly after Jessmil started that process, Boys Town Central Florida entered the picture. 

“The family became involved with Boys Town through a Child Protective Services referral,” said William Klein, a Family Consultant with the site’s In-Home Family Services program. “They (CPS) were getting reports about Ruth’s unmanageable behaviors. The parent wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was the parent literally telling the CPS investigator she needed help with Ruth. Jessmil didn’t want to give up Ruth. She just didn’t know what to do with her anymore.”

In February 2014, Ruth began receiving services at the Boys Town Central Florida Intervention and Assessment Center. At the same time, Klein began working with Jessmil and her family in their home, providing intensive in-home services based on the Boys Town Common Sense Parenting ® curriculum. 

An advantage of the in-home services was that Klein could provide all of the services in Spanish, the only language Jessmil could speak. 

After eight weeks of Boys Town services, the family had made significant progress in rebuilding relationships and solving problems. Jessmil learned positive parenting techniques, and Klein helped her connect with the mental health resources Ruth desperately needed.

Meanwhile, Ruth was learning new skills at the Intervention and Assessment Center that were helping her change her negative behaviors and get her life back on track. 

The powerful combination of Jessmil’s commitment to saving her daughter and her family and Boys Town’s life-changing assistance eventually led to Ruth being reunited with her mom and brothers. The positive changes in the family have continued.

Since returning home, Ruth has stayed on her path of healing. She’s getting along great with her mother and brothers, and no longer engages in substance abuse or self-harm behaviors. Her schoolwork has improved and she has a job. The teen has also stayed out of trouble and is following instructions, staying calm, accepting decisions and even willingly doing chores at home. Most importantly, the fear that once gripped the family is gone.

“It is amazing that when we came to help the family, Mom was at the point where she was trying to get her child into a locked facility,” Klein said. “And now, after eight weeks of intensive services with Mom and Ruth, they are a happy, strong family.”