Boys Town North Florida's In-Home Family Services Program Helps Keep Family Together

Boys Town North Florida's In-Home Family Services program receives multiple referrals from the Department of Children and Families for abuse, neglect, or dangerous living conditions. When Caniece was referred to Boys Town, she was struggling with aggressive, self-harm, and elopement behaviors from her oldest daughter and lived in a home with poor living conditions.

Caniece initiated services with Boys Town to keep her family together and in April of 2022, she started working with Monica Smart-Gainous, an In-Home Family Services Consultant.

Upon initiating services, the family focused on safety and self-harm behaviors for the oldest daughter in the home. Monica worked with the family to address the negative behaviors they experienced during times of stress and implemented a stay-calm plan. They also worked as a team to find sustainable housing options.

While working a full-time job and receiving services from Boys Town, Caniece searched everywhere for a suitable home for the family. Eventually, she secured a home that would be a perfect fit for her family. After renting her home, she was introduced to a free application called "Freebie Alerts". Through utilizing this app, Caniece found local, free furniture posted by others in the community that she could use in her own home. Together, Monica and the family successfully furnished the entire home with free furniture.

Being in their new home allows the family to feel safe and able to prosper, compared to living in a mold-infested and unpleasant home. Caniece said "I have never seen this family smile so much and feel so safe as they did when we toured the home. They don't have to worry about that anymore. We started from the bottom, now we're here!"

After completing services with Boys Town, Caniece said "Monica helped me realize how strong I am, she helped me find myself". Caniece went on to describe how everything in her life is drastically better now. She has been promoted at her job, her family enjoys spending time in the home, and they have grown closer together through this process.

Monica reflected on her journey of helping this family and thought of a Father Flanagan quote she knew to be true: "Change the environment and you're likely to change the behavior."