26 Aug YOC’s New Division Provides a Beacon of Hope to Kids and Families

In response both to federal and state legislation, as well as an increasing desire to reach kids and families earlier in their experience – prior to removal from the home – the Youth Opportunity Center has launched a new, community-based division of services, Family Beacon.

The back story

For nearly three decades, the Youth Opportunity Center has been providing the best in quality residential treatment for at-risk youth from across the state of Indiana. Over recent years, it’s become increasingly apparent that there is another underserved population of kids in need of the YOC’s approach to treatment – kids who have not been removed from their home, but who – together with their families – have been identified as in need of intervention.

The idea that there are families and children in need of services prior to a child’s removal from the home is not a new one. In fact, nationwide, the federal government has identified that while there is no doubt a need for continued interventions and services for children and families, removal of the child from their home environment should be the last resort. Through the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), the government is placing greater emphasis on providing services to children and families before a child is removed from the home. Each state has a deadline for enacting FFPSA, which then places certain restrictions and requirements on the residential treatment of youth by providers such as the YOC. These requirements and restrictions will naturally skew treatment towards an increased focus on community-based and in-home treatment.

The YOC’s response

The YOC – having long seen this change coming, and having long since felt the need for community-based services, has launched Family Beacon, a community-based division of the YOC. Family Beacon will encompass all the non-residential programs and services the YOC offers, including Day Reporting, Outpatient Counseling, and our newest program, Family Preservation.

Perhaps the greatest stride in providing therapeutic support to kids and families through earlier interventions, Family Preservation will include multiple services geared towards treatment, teaching, modeling and assisting with family and parenting interactions. The goal of these services is exactly as the name suggest – to preserve the family unit by providing kids and families with the structure, interventions, and skills needed to succeed and to set their family on a healthier path.

The idea behind all of this is to reach kids and families earlier, to provide interventions before the need arises to remove a child from their home and family.

“On the residential side, kids fail up into their placement at the YOC,” said Rick Rowray, YOC CEO. “By the time they get to us, they have failed through numerous interventions. The idea with Family Beacon is that we can reach kids and families much earlier on in their journey, and hopefully provide the treatment needed to keep kids safe, happy and successful in their home environment.”

The services provided within Family Beacon’s Family Preservation program will be court-mandated and will be guided by standards and oversight from Indiana DCS.

Led by veteran YOC counselor Casey Weigle as the new Director of Community Based Services, Family Beacon will initially serve Indiana DCS Region 7 comprised of Delaware, Randolph, Jay, Blackford, Grant, Adams, and Wells counties. [make sure this list is correct]. The plan will be to expand home-based services to additional counties as needed and able.

“We’re super excited to bring these new community-based services to kids and families in our surrounding counties,” Weigle said. “I’m confident in our ability to have a real impact. It’s exciting to think about the number of people we can help in this way.”

For more information about Family Beacon, please contact Casey Weigle at cweigle@yocininc.org.

To support Family Beacon and other community-based services, go to alliesforhope.com.

This story is adapted from the Summer 2020 YOC Foundations newsletter.