• 5 Family Events in Southern Illinois for Spring

    Spending time with loved ones and doing things we enjoy is what gets us through the stresses of life. This spring, you can create happy moments and create fond memories with some fun family outings. Here are a few upcoming events in Southern Illinois to enjoy together:


    Weekly Saturday Afternoon Movies 

    Marion Carnegie Library| 206 S. Market Street, Marion, 62959| 1pm – 3pm

    Create a new family tradition by spending Saturday afternoons at the library for a movie day. Marion Carnegie Library’s Children’s Department has a free weekly ‘Tween Movies’ event for families with kids ages 8 to 12 years old. Other weekly events include Wednesday ‘Teen Craft Nights,’ where there are occasionally special events like the upcoming April 3rd ‘Bob Ross Paint Night’ for teens and their mentors.

    Learn more: http://www.marioncarnegielibrary.org/calendar-of-events/


    April 6th | Annual Afternoon Spring Tea

    Jefferson County Historical Village | Mount Vernon, Illinois | 2pm – 4pm   

    Back and better than ever, this year’s upcoming tea event will have all the fixings of a traditional tea including multiple tea and coffee selections, scones, sandwiches and other treats. Step back in time for this high society tradition with a visit to Jefferson County Historical Village, where families can learn about life in the village.

    Learn More: http://historicjeffersoncountyil.com/images/2019-Tea.jpg

    ($12 JCHS members, $15 non-members – Call to register and book your tickets)


    April 11 -13th | 2019 Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show

    222 Potomac Blvd | Mount Vernon IL 62864 | times vary, see schedule

    Calling all classic country music lovers… This annual Southern Illinois Guitar Show is packed with tons of local and regional talent featuring Jeanie Seely and Tim Atwood of The Grand Ole Opry. There will be vendors, food, and a singing contest you and the family won’t want to miss.

    (full schedule) http://www.southernillinoisproductions.org/


    April 27th| Kite Fly 

    Joe Gilk Park | 710 E Lake Dr. |Edwardsville, Illinois | 9am – 12 pm

    Take a trip to Edwardsville to fly kites at the park as part of a “statewide kite fly” hosted by the Illinois Association of Park District’s Flying for Kids event. Families can decorate their kites together, then send them up to watch them fly. Goodie bags will be given to the first 50 participants.

    Learn More: https://www.cityofedwardsville.com/Calendar.aspx?EID=487&month=4&year=2019&day=27&calType=0


    May 4 | Locust Street Historic Fair 

    Centralia, IL | 10am – 2pm

    Enjoy a day out and about at the fair with loved ones at the Locust Street Historic Fair. This annual event offers all kinds of modern and historic fun including antique cars, retail shops, food vendors, historical walking tours, craft demonstrations, a Civil War display, and more.

    Learn More:  http://seecentralia.com/event/locust-street-historic-fair/


  • 3 Simple Nutrition Tips That Promote Behavioral Health

    Across all ages and demographics, keeping the body nourished is necessary for proper development, which can last until early adulthood. For both children and young adults, some of which may be dealing with behavioral challenges, this is especially important. With many studies proving a strong connection between behavior and diet, the need for proper nutrition is stronger than ever.

    Here are some tips to help keep youth nourished and functioning to the best of their abilities:


    Snack Smarter

    People have different ways of coping with the trauma in their lives, and some are unhealthier than others. One of these methods is stress eating, which is eating without hunger as a response to stress and/or trauma. Unfortunately, this unhealthy coping mechanism isn’t just reserved for adults and can affect children dealing with “early life stress” as young as four years old.

    Enjoy some “comfort food” after a bad day isn’t necessarily troubling, but habitually consuming unhealthy foods to escape unfavorable feelings or circumstances is not a healthy or sustainable way to deal with things. In addition to therapy, an easy way to start implementing changes is to swap out the usual snacking foods with healthier choices.


    Catch Some Zzzzs

    It’s common knowledge that a good night’s sleep is necessary, but its value is often underestimated, especially for children and young adults who are most strongly affected by lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is nothing to take lightly, as it can cause difficulty learning due to inattention, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, and irritability. For youth who already struggle with behavioral issues, or intellectual and developmental disabilities, sleep should be prioritized.

    To aid with a restful night’s sleep, consuming natural teas with calming properties, like (chamomile or lavender), before bedtime and avoiding caffeinated beverages, like coffee and sodas, that can keep the body awake, interrupt natural sleep patterns, and cause sluggishness that negatively affects performance in school or at work are recommended. 


    Get a “Boost”

    With the daily stresses of school and/or work, coupled with other challenging life circumstances, it’s easy to slip into a routine of eating cheap and convenient fast food. But, a regular diet of high cholesterol, high fructose food affects more than just weight – it can add to an already stressed lifestyle by failing to restore energy levels, which impacts one’s mood. Fortunately, there are some specific foods that can boost energy levels and, in turn, happiness.

    Instead of consuming fast food that causes sluggishness, try consuming energy and mood boosting foods rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries and broccoli. With more energy, kids and young adults can have an easier time paying attention at school and/or work and become less irritable while doing so.


    These are just a few simple tips that can help keep kids and young adults healthy and functioning to their highest abilities.

  • 5 Books That Help Foster Families

    Every foster families’ story is different;  however, there are a number of situations – both positive and disappointing – that they are familiar with. To better understand and respond to various situation, many foster parents urn to available support, from social workers to therapists, and even books.

    So for National Reading Month this March, we’re helping foster families expand their resource list.  Check out our book list with useful stories and insights about different aspects of the foster care and the adoptive journey: 

    Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections by Deborah N. Silverstein and Susan Livingston Smith

    The parent-child relationship is important, but the connection between siblings – adopted or biological-  should receive just as much care and attention. This book explores the complex relationships between adopted and foster children and their new siblings, as well as the bond between them and their biological siblings they may have been separated from. Siblings offers insights on this experience and strategies to help foster these different child-to-child bonds in healthy ways.

    Foster Parenting 101: When A Foster Child Leaves by Dr. John DeGarmo

    Through all the tough moments foster parents may endure, having to say goodbye to a foster child can be the most difficult. This book outlines the different ways this affects foster families and provides some ways to help everyone make it through this challenging time when it comes.  

    The Adoptive Parent Toolbox by Mike & Kristin Berry

    Biological or adopted, each new child brings a new experience for their parents. This book shares true testimonies from adoptive families all over the world that provide wisdom gleaned from the many lessons learned. These stories illustrate both unique experiences and common obstacles throughout the adoption process and touch on various challenging aspects of the journey that may crop up in everyday life.

    Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne Schooler, Timothy Callahan and Betsy Keefer Smalley

    Parents often experience anxiety when preparing to welcome a new child, whether the child is biological, adopted or taken in from foster care. Those who are expecting a child coming from trauma may experience even more uncertainty. This book is written to address the experience of each party: the child, the parents, as well as others affected by this transition, in order to help calm concerns and navigate expectations.

    Adopting the Older Child by Claudia Jarrett

    The adoption and/or “fostering” process is a very specific experience, but welcoming an older child into the family is an even more distinct part of that journey. This book is widely considered to be a “classic” among adoption and foster care books, as it was written through the lens of each party (i.e. the child, the parents, as well as others affected by this transition) in order to help calm concerns of the family as a whole and navigate expectations to create a comfortable experience for all.

    There is no perfect roadmap to fostering or adopting, but these books can offer lessons and both personal and professional advice that can guide families through the journey.

  • 5 Ways We Advocate For Our Youth

    Our many programs are designed around creating safe, healthy environments for Illinois youth, in order to encourage their confidence and identify their full potential.

    Here are just a few ways we advocate for our youth daily:

    1. We counsel, we don’t condemn

    We understand that some of the children we serve endure difficult situations. That’s why our Behavioral Health program provides emotional support and counseling to children and families, to offer healing for past traumatic experiences, as well as to help them find opportunities through their challenges.

    1. We work to tackle problems in advance

    Our Preventative Services offer education for families in order to prevent challenging issues like substance abuse and teen pregnancy. Our coalitions are recruited to investigate circumstances like potential human trafficking cases to avoid recurrences whenever possible.

    1. We guide foster youth as they step into themselves

    We set our adolescents up for success by helping them make a smooth transition from foster care to independence, with our Independent Living Opportunity, which allows them to live in their own apartment while receiving guidance on money management, meeting educational and professional goals.

    1. We help pregnant youth build their futures

    The support young people receive in their youth goes a long way to build their success further down the line. Young adults who are pregnant receive support through Our New Life Parenting Program, which helps them to develop nurturing, healthily parenting skills.

    1. We contribute to addressing their mental health

    Mental health is crucial to overall well-being, especially during the pivotal years of youth. We provide Mental Health First Aid training for adults, which helps them to more effectively respond to behavioral incidents by trying to understand the causes of that behavior and how mental health plays a part in them.


  • Meet Kelly Bandy, Hoyleton’s Incoming Board Chair

    Starting in October, Kelly Bandy will become the Chair of Hoyleton’s Board of Directors.   Kelly has been a member of the board for over 10 years, most recently serving as its Vice Chair.

    Kelly and her husband, Eric, are long-time supporters of Hoyleton.  Both are native to Southern Illinois and have a deep passion, and commitment, to youth and families throughout the region. They operate a family business, Bandy’s Pharmacy, inspiring health and wellness throughout three communities.  Today, Bandy Pharmacy has locations in Centralia, Salem, Irvington and Mt. Vernon.

    Hoyleton was first introduced to them through a business partnership; their pharmacy in Irvington, supplies Hoyleton’s nursing staff with the necessary prescriptions for the youth living at Hoyleton’s residential campus. Irvington is just a short drive away from there.

    As the business relationship grew, Kelly and Eric’s fondness for Hoyleton’s work grew, as well.

    “Hearing stories from foster parents or kids in the residential program really made an impact on me.  Those stories really put things in perspective for my life. Kids are going through different trials that most, including me or our kids, don’t experience in everyday life.  Thankfully, Hoyleton’s been there for youth and families to count on for almost 125 years,” says Kelly.

    Eventually, Kelly joined the board of directors. Her motivation was to further her advocacy efforts for the youth in residential services with the goal of helping them create a quality of life she desired for her own children.

    Kelly still has the same motivation and calling today, but her focus has broadened.

    “Many don’t realize how much Hoyleton provides.  Programs like Puentes de Esperanza that serves our Hispanic community members, pregnancy and parenting teen classes, an integrated living program, and foster care – the list goes on – are all critical to our region.  Hoyleton plays a key role in delivering services and resources to many individuals and families.”

    When Kelly assumes the chair position, she’ll focus on sustaining and improving all the best-in-class programs and services Hoyleton offers. She will explore ways to expand services to meet more needs, as well. In all, she’s encouraged by the many transformational outcomes she’s witnessed in her many years on the board, but she knows there are many more people to serve.

    Kelly says, “When my term is complete in two years, Hoyleton will be beginning its next 125 years.  It will continue to be financially strong, growing steadily, building communities and serving youth and families with care. “

    Thank you, Kelly, for your dedication to Hoyleton’s work and to the over 3,000 youth and families Hoyleton serves every year.

  • Happy Valentine’s Day: Here’s What We Love About You

    Every day, we’re blown away by the support our community, yes – you, shows us in a variety of ways, and our work could not happen without it.  So, for Valentine’s Day, please accept our warm love, deep gratitude, and these reasons for our love:

    1)You include our youth and families in your holiday traditions.

    Christmas 2018 was the most generous Christmas donation drive we’ve had in our history!  Long-time supporters, and several new ones, donated money and purchased toys for our children and youth in foster care. You made It a truly memorable season, and so many young ones felt your compassion.

    2) You share our mission and work with your friends, family, and community.

    Over the last three months, we’ve witnessed many of you engage with our many stories shared online. You like them, you love them, and you share them with your community. For that we’re pressing:     

    3) You understand the importance of meaningful community partnerships.

    A week doesn’t go by without receiving a call or email from a local business or organization leader, asking how they can help support our work. We’re all stronger when we work together on solving complex social issues facing many, and it’s an incredible feeling to know a “collective impact” mentality is valued greatly in Southern Illinois.

    4) We know you’re committed to furthering our mission.    

    Many of you have supported our mission for decades. Others of you come from a family that has supported us across generations. And, a growing number are new to the Hoyleton community. Regardless of your time with us, we always know we can count on your commitment to furthering our mission.  Your devotion to our organization is beyond words, so we can only hope our love and commitment to those we serve every day will show our gratitude.

    Happy Valentine’s Day and thank you for loving us so dearly! 

  • Meet Hoyleton’s 2018 Employee of the Year, Vicki Sharkey

    2004 was a significant year for Vicki Sharkey. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, it would be the year she’d begin a celebrated 15-year (and counting) career at Hoyleton.

    Vicki is a Nurse Case Aid at Hoyleton, and she supports our nurses that care for 40 youth living at the residential services’ campus.  She has several responsibilities in her day, but her key duties are to coordinate transportation for youth to – and – from medical appointments and to record those provider appointments to ensure youth are meeting compliance standards with the State.

    She has a big responsibility, but in her tenure she’s learned a lot from her co-workers and bosses. She’s also learned important life lessons from the youth she’s supported.

    “Many of our kids get a bad rap, but people need to know that with the proper support, they can be productive in life. People must take time to understand each situation. They could then learn things for their own life. I know I have learned a lot”, says Vicki.

    The art of patience is one skill she’s learned and mastered in her time at Hoyleton. She faces many challenges, but she has the ability to break through the stress and focus on helping each youth uniquely – based on their personality and needs. This approach takes extra time, but everyone benefits in the long-run.

    Fifteen years ago, Vicki came to Hoyleton looking for a job and the desire to work with kids.  Now, she’s given so much to the organization and to others, and we can’t thank her enough for her commitment to our mission and youth.

    She represents the positive attitude, desire, and compassion that we hope every team member shares in his/her work, and we’re grateful she’s on our team.

    Congratulations, Vicki, on your 2018 Employee of the Year Award!


  • Residential Services Receives Tier One Status from Department of Children and Family Services

    If you visit the Hoyleton Campus in Hoyleton, Illinois on a weekday around 8:30am, it might look like the streets in most neighborhoods. Youth scurrying around, making their way to school just-in-time for the opening bell. The campus is where almost 40 boys and girls live 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each has their own unique story, but all have been referred by the State.

    This year, the Residential Care program at the Hoyleton campus was granted Tier One status from Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services.  It’s a classification that only a few similar programs in Illinois receive. The status is based on key performance scores that measure the program’s ability to successfully retain youth in treatment, present opportunities and enable youth to grow in core-life areas.

    “The Tier One classification shows we’re looking at outcomes, and the State is measuring our performance on ways we’re treating youth. It indicates the viability of our program. Data measures our work which shows we perform at a higher level.  And that makes Hoyleton a preferred provider to the State”, says Brice Bloom-Ellis, Chief Program Officer at Hoyleton.

    Hoyleton’s Residential Care staff, including counselors, administrators and educators, work together to ensure each young resident has the tools and structured experiences, like school, to move from their challenging past into a new, productive future.

    A significant factor to the programs’ success is the staff’s willingness to improve at every step.  Just last year, the program adopted an evidenced-based practice model developed from mental and behavioral health experts at Cornell University. The practice model is called CARE – Hoyleton is just one of only 50 agencies in the United States chosen by Cornell to implement the model.

    Residential Care Director, Monte Mister, explains, “Over the years, we’ve tried to take a real-life approach to youth, but they’re not really in normal life situations.  The CARE model provides our staff with a practice framework that has a common language, so we can better address our youth’s situations as they are.”

    Over the next year, more Hoyleton staff will become CARE trainers, and the practice will be fully implemented in that timeframe. The new practice will help secure Hoyleton’s Tier One status for years to come, which will give youth the quality, personalized care they need and deserve.

    “Our kids have problems but they need “normal” experiences; in many ways they’re no different than other kids – they have the same wants, needs and desires everyone else has”, says Mister. “We’ll continue to work hard each day so they know they’re people worthy of our love and support.”

    To learn more about Hoyleton’s Residential Care program, click here.

  • Join Us for a Celebration of Hoyleton Heroes on February 22nd!

    Please join Hoyleton Youth & Family Services, and other fellow heroes, for a night of friends, food and fun at Hoyleton’s annual A Night for Heroes – our salute to everyone that makes Hoyleton’s work possible.

    A cash bar at 6 pm kicks off the evening followed by a wonderful dinner at 7 pm. A Night for Heroes culminates with Awards, the Fund-the-Need auction that provides support to every one of Hoyleton’s nearly 20 programs and services for nearly 3,000 youth and families throughout southern Illinois – and, music and dancing with Butchwax and the Hollywoods!

    This year’s event will be located at the Four Points by Sheraton in Fairview Heights.

  • Chris Cox, President & CEO of Hoyleton selected as one of 36 members for Gov.-Elect Pritzker Healthy Children and Families Committee

    Chicago, IL — Recently, Governor-elect JB Pritzker announced the formation and members of the Healthy Children and Families Committee of the transition team at Children’s Home and Aid, the first social service agency JB visited while considering his run for governor.  Chris Cox, President and CEO of Hoyleton Youth and Family Services was named to the Governor’s committee.

    The Healthy Children and Families Committee will be chaired by state Sen. Heather Steans, Howard Brown Health President and CEO David Munar, and Children’s Home and Aid President and CEO Nancy Ronquillo.

    “Our transition’s Healthy Children and Families Committee will focus on how we should rebuild social services, identify ways we can help children and families build better lives, and expand health care in this state,” said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. “Over the last few years, state funding for community organizations was cut and families were no longer receiving the services they needed to thrive, but we’re going to reverse course. As governor, I’ll be their partner, and together, we’ll confront challenges head on so families and children can thrive.”

    “It’s time for Illinois to be a leader in this area and do something that’s big and bold,” said Cox.  “The Governor-elect’s focus on the well-being of youth and families in our state and rebuilding social services is critical to Hoyleton’s work in 55 counties in Southern Illinois.

    Since 1895, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services has grown to be one of Southern Illinois’ leaders in a wide array of services including residential, foster and adoptive services, community education, counseling, and services for emerging adults.  Hoyleton is just one of 50 agencies nationally and the only agency in the Midwest implementing Cornell University’s Residential Child Care Project (CARE), a new research-based best practices model.