• 3 Memorial Day Weekend Activities for Southern Illinois Families

    At this time of year, we are rewarded with more warm weather,  more sunshine, and bit more time to enjoy it with those we care about. And with Memorial Day weekend kicking off, there are plenty of opportunities to make more of these good times to look back on fondly.

    Here are three great outings to enjoy during the long weekend:


    May 24th – May 25th | 34th Annual Bonifest | 4pm

    This weekend, on Friday and Saturday, St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, IL will host two days of festivities including food, raffles, live music, carnival rides and games. This festival will take place at the parish located at the intersection of Vandalia and Buchanan Street. Come out to take part in the celebrations with loved ones of all ages! Tickets for food, drinks, and games are 80 cents in advance, and $1 at the festival. Tickets for rides are $18/24, and wristbands will be offered for Saturday from 11am – 4pm (during “Bluejay Family Day”) for $28. Purchase tickets in advance at St. Boniface Parish Office, Edwardsville KofC, Bank of Edwardsville (4 locations), Town and Country Bank, Schnucks, Dierbergs, Shop ‘n Save, Market Basket

    For more information, click here


    May 25th | The Run for Bonifest | 8:30a – 10am

    This 5-mile and 2-kilometer run is a tradition in the St. Boniface Catholic Church community, and known as “one of the oldest and largest annual race events in the Metro East.” Beginning on the church campus, this RFID-timed race takes runners from all levels throughout the scenic route of Leclaire Park, before returning to the church’s main stage on campus. Bring out the family for this fun opportunity to bond, while staying active!

    For more information, click here.  


    May 27th | Alton Memorial Day Parade | 10am – 12pm

    Beginning in 1868- just three years after the Civil War’s end – this annual parade celebrates those who served and the history of Upper Alton and Pie Town. This year’s celebration will mark the parade’s 152nd anniversary. Before the parade starts, gather friends and family together at Alton Middle School where the parade starts for a fun, yet meaningful outing!

    For more information, click here.

  • A Parent’s Guide for Talking to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol

    Talking to teens about drugs can seem intimidating, but having these conversations can be greatly impactful. Now that they’re older and have a bit more freedom, they’ll likely encounter situations or environments where drug and alcohol use are prevalent. However, parents have more influence over their kids’ choices than they know.

    Here are a few steps from our substance abuse prevention specialists that can help parents work with their teens in order to help them make smart decisions regarding drugs and alcohol.


    Regularly asking your teen questions opens up a dialogue about the things going on in their lives, which may include experiences with drugs and alcohol. Even if the subject of substance use doesn’t immediately come up, asking open ended questions creates those opportunities for be responsiveness. Additionally, knowing who their friends are and checking in on those friendships establishes a familiarity of those relationships.

    If your teen is at a party or outing where they are encouraged to use drugs or alcohol, creating a safe word (via a text or phone call) that signals they want to leave, can give them a way out of a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Because they are older and may have more responsibilities attributed to them, using an excuse like, “My parents need me to pick up my sibling” or “I need to leave early to help my grandma’ can serve as a plausible reason to exit an uncomfortable situation.

    Beyond discussing drugs and alcohol use with teens, setting expectations in the household about drug and alcohol use can be highly influential in their decision to not experiment with substances. Whether it’s the understanding that alcohol will not be consumed in the home until 21, or that cigarettes are not to be used regardless of the legal age, setting expectations promotes an understanding of acceptable standards that teens can be encouraged to uphold.

    Adolescence can be a fraught time, and teens may end up turning to substances to cope with the stress or social pressures they may be dealing with, or to gain social capital with their peers. Make a plan with your kids about new ways to cope through yoga, journaling, music, exercise, drawing, or other healthy outlets. Also, parents should be mindful of their own usage so that their teens can follow a good example. Parents prefacing a glass a wine or a can of beer with a comment about how stressful a day it was, sends a signal their kids that drinking is an appropriate way to cope with stress.

    It’s valuable to check the news and research what drug and alcohol use trends are currently popular across the teenage demographic. Despite the misconception that teens don’t want to talk to their parents, their desire to be heard will often prompt them to share. Ask teens what they know about a certain drug, what it is, and if they know anyone who’s tried it. If a child knows that their parents are aware of a certain drug, they’re less likely to try it.


    In the end, parents cannot control their kids’ actions, but through communication and preparation, they can assist them in having the right tools to make smart, informed decisions.

  • A Parent’s Guide for Talking to Kids, Aged 11 – 14, About Drugs

    As children grow, so does their concern for the approval of their peers. Despite this, parents often have more influence over their children than they realize. A talk with kids about drugs is not necessarily an easy one, but it can be an invaluable conversation to have as they approach the age of curiosity about drugs or first use.

    Here are some steps parents can take to be proactive in preventing drug use in their children:


    Step 1: Take the Lead

    Around the ages of 11 to 14, kids are at a period where they may have heard things about certain drugs, and are curious. More than ever, now is the time to inquire about what children already know through their own research, from peers, or the media. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic to them and ask what they’ve heard about a specific drug at school, in music or on television, and ask if they have any questions.  

    Step 2: Create An Open Dialogue

    A lot of times adults ask questions, but then quickly try to answer themselves. By giving youth the the chance to speak, it reveals what they do or don’t know. Listening to what kids have to say about drugs is a helpful opportunity to expose their misconceptions on the topic and replace them with the proper information, which can be put into a context they can understand.

    Step 3: Write A Script

    In their youth, kids may find themselves in situations where they are faced with peer pressure. Helping them to come up with a safe way to get out of uncomfortable situations can give them the confidence to navigate these difficult moments. Help them practice what they will say if they encounter someone who wants them to use drugs or alcohol. Another strategy is creating some sort of text script that kids can send to their parents, which signals for their help to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Role playing these scenarios not only helps prepare kids for what to say, but also helps them get more comfortable navigating those moments of peer pressure.  

    Step 4: Get Familiar With Friends

    Most often, kids from ages 11 – 14 are using substances in someone’s homes – not out in bars – therefore it’s important to get to know the people a child is spending their time with. Even if parents are familiar with the parents of their child’s friends, it’s important for them to get a sense of what substances are or aren’t allowed in the house, and what the attitude is in regard to the use of those substances.


    This age range, 11 – 14 years old, can be a pivotal time in life, and it’s important for parents to lend their guidance to help their kids through it. These points will create effective dialogue with kids. 

  • 4 Upcoming Hoyleton Events to Attend

    Our goal is to provide supportive services and resources that give people the tools they need to build healthy, happy, stable lives and family connections. Within the next couple of weeks, there are several upcoming events to attend that offer this to families and individuals, through valuable information or exciting family activities:

    Helping Young Adults Thrive 

    4/25, Thursday, 6pm – O’ Fallon Public Library

    From discussions about common experiences and healthy behavior during this phase of life, to information about how to identify unhealthy patterns, our workshop is designed to equip parents with the information they may need to ultimately help their teenagers thrive. The workshop will close with a forum for any questions on the topic of teenage mental and behavioral health.

    Register here.

    Mental Health First Aid Course & Certification (Free)

    4/26, Friday, 8am – 5pm – St. Joseph’s Hospital

    Identify Potential Risks and Warning Signs

    Mental illness is prevalent, but lack of knowledge and stigmas around the topic don’t always make the signs easy to recognize. This nationally accredited course, iMental Health First Aid, will teach trainees how to identify symptoms of various mental illnesses in the people the interact with in daily life from loved ones to co-workers, as well as guide an action plan to assist someone in crisis. Learning risk factors and identifying early warning signs is a great way to learn how to be pro-active in helping individuals with their mental health.  Perks for this course include free certification, free lunch, a free book, and free continuing education units for LSW, LCSW, LPC, & LCPC (available upon request).

    Register here.

    National Drug Take Back Day 

    4/27, Saturday, 10am – noon – Doehrings Pharmacy

    This year, Hoyleton Youth and Family Service is once again teaming up with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to allow people to dispose of their expired, unused and/or unwanted prescription drugs to prevent drug abuse and theft. In its previous 16 Take Back events, the DEA and its partners have collected nearly 11 million pounds of pills – join in this Saturday to see if you can help top this number for the 17th Drug Take Back Day.

    Register here.


    Hiking & Biking for Hoyleton

    5/11, Saturday, 9am – Maeystown, Illinois

    May is National Bike Month, so it’s only fitting that our favorite biking tradition takes place this month. On May 11, walkers, runners, and bikers can travel across the beautiful countryside surrounding Maeystown, Illinois through a scenic two, five or 15-mile route. Proceeds from this event allow our youth to go on outings like fishing, swimming, visiting the museum, and even allows them to attend Hoyleton Day Camp at Dubois Center. Please join us in Mayestown as we continue to Build Stronger Communities, One Child at a Time! Included with your registration fee are your Hike & Bike t-shirt and a hearty lunch.

    Register here.


  • How Puentes de Esperanza Celebrated Easter: 5 Highlights from Fairmont City’s Easter Event

    For over seven years, Hoyleton’s Puentes de Esperanza program has participated in Fairmont City’s annual Easter-related events, including a vibrant parade and an exciting egg hunt. We’re proud to be a part of such a special day that brings such joy to the community each year with the support of local institutions like the Fairmont City Library, the local police and fire departments, and other sponsors, like Puentes de Esperanza, who want to provide Southern Illinois’ Latino community with a fun day of holiday festivities.

    Here is a quick recap of this special day:


    1. It gets bigger each year

    Each year, this event grows exponentially. This year, over 1,000 individuals were in attendance.


    2. Supporters were as sweet as candy  

    All candy for Puentes de Esperanza’s Easter eggs was donated by Kevin Woelffel, who regularly volunteers for Puentes events.


    3. There were treats a plenty 

    A Place of Grace members helped stuff eggs with treats for the children, while our interns helped coordinate toys to give out. 


    4. Goodie bags aren’t just for candy  

    In addition to the typical Easter treats, Puentes de Esperanza handed out flyers about upcoming events and workshops for the community to attend, and distributed Deterra drug deactivation bags, which allow for the safe disposal of old medication.


    5. Scholarships were the greatest prize of all

    The Latino Roundtable of Southwestern Illinois awarded a $500 scholarship to a high school senior, which was matched by the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, so that two students received scholarships for their bright futures.


    Overall, it was a great day of fun – we can’t wait to celebrate again next year!

  • 5 Great Podcasts About Youth Behavioral Health

    Every parent hopes to raise happy children that grow up and lead independent, healthy lives. But, life’s challenges sometimes make this more difficult. Fortunately, there are many different services and resources designed to guide parents along that child-rearing journey through difficult behavioral health issues that arise as a result of a variety of circumstances.

    Read our list of five great podcasts with insights from child behavioral experts, parent testimonials, and more.


    1. This is Normal

    As part of USA Today Network’s Kids in Crisis series, this podcast invites youth people to share their struggles with mental health, and how they overcame them. This ‘for youth, by youth’ podcast offers an authentic look into the real struggles of young people, which can help others in similar situations, to feel empowered.  


    1. Child In Mind

    This podcast was produced by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, which focuses on making mental health services effective and accessible for UK children and families. With episodes focused on topics like help for children with ADHD and how trauma affects the young brain, listeners can find useful information that can help a child dealing with behavioral issues.  


    1. Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) Podcast  

    With so much information about youth mental health and development, and most of it verbose, it’s easy to get too overwhelmed to take it all in. This podcast aims to bridge the gap between academic studies and research, by discussing ways to put them into practice with experts.  


    1. The Behavioral Observations Podcast

    Though not limited to one set demographic, this podcast regularly covers severe behavioral issues as they relate to youth, hosted by Matt Cicora and featuring topics discussed at length with behavioral analysts. Such topics include potential treatment for “aggression and self-injurious behavior,” as well as how to get kids more involved in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for children with autism.


    1. inSocialWork Podcast Series

    The University of Buffalo’s School of Social Work has a podcast series, inSocialWork, that covers a range of topics that social workers commonly encounter in their careers, often including various youth behavioral health issues. This series includes interviews with experts, conversations with social workers, and other critical perspectives from experienced voices in the field on how to address these issues that affect youth.


    There’s no road map for raising a child, but hopeful you’ll discover some useful pieces of guidance and wisdom on your childrearing journey through these podcasts.


  • National Child Abuse Awareness Month: A Curated Toolkit to Effectively Advocate for Children

    Children are some of the most vulnerable among us, and it’s our responsibility to figure out ways we can advocate on their behalf.

    In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, here are ways you can advocate for their right to safe, healthy, stress-free lives.

    Tune In

    One of the very first steps toward advocacy of any kind is through learning as much as possible about a particular issue. With countless accredited resources on the various issues children face from neglect, to sexual abuse, or malnutrition, it is easier than ever to become informed. Becoming knowledgeable about these issues can be a powerful tool in dismantling the things that enable these injustices to occur.

    Research: Here are some useful external  tools to help you stay informed on the latest advocacy efforts on ending the issues, including:

    Child Trafficking – ECPAT – USA

    Child Abuse & Neglect – National Child Abuse Coalition

    Child Hunger – No Kid Hungry

    Speak Out

    Although many already know about the various issues children face, they may not be necessarily be aware of the prevalence of these issues, or the extent of detrimental – sometimes lifelong – effects they have on children’s lives. Working to consistently spread awareness focused on a specific cause helps the public to collectively empathize and learn about the problems children sometimes have to endure.

    Share: Here are a few different ways to spread awareness about important causes like that affect children:

    Create a campaign

    Invite leaders to speak

    Utilize the power of media

    Show Up

    Having compassion for those in need is only a small part of advocacy – a much more substantial part is taking action. Research organizations that support child advocacy in your community and participate in volunteer opportunities, fundraisers, and donor drives to help carry forward the very same mission you’re passionate about.

    Act: Here are some guides from providers (beyond Hoyleton) on how to get involved in some of the aforementioned causes:

    Child Trafficking: Opportunities to Volunteer for Child Trafficking Causes

    Child Abuse & Neglect: Use Tools That Help Pinpoint Where to Give

    Child Hunger: Ways You Can Help End Child Hunger


  • 3 Ways Foster Families Make Their Homes a Welcoming Space

    The uncertainty foster children experience can be difficult, even if they are used to the displacement, with constant moves from one living situation to the next. Although their stay is only temporary, there are a number of small things families can do that can have a big impact in making kids feel welcome and comfortable while they’re there.


    Keep It Clean  

    It may seem obvious that one should tidy up before welcoming someone into the home, but the reasons why may not be as apparent. Regardless of where they came from, moving a foster child into a messy, chaotic living space can cause them anxiety and unease. When everything in a home is out of place, it’s easy for foster children to feel out of place too. Making a concerted effort to declutter before the upcoming arrival of a child not only has the ability to make them feel more comfortable, but it also offers up more space for their belongings, and creates a sense of organization that allows routines (and ultimately, life,) to flow more smoothly – something foster children are in great need of.   


    Make It Personal

    Even if you don’t have the time, budget or creativity for a home decor project, adding a few small personal touches in a place that is just for them can be quite meaningful. Find out as much as possible about their likes and (such as their favorite colors, characters, animals, etc.) and try to include those things into their room. Or, ask them to pick out a few things after they’ve already arrived. If you prefer to keep the room where they’ll be staying a blank slate, simply create a welcome basket for them with items like books, blankets, snacks, clothes, toys, tailored to their age range and whatever you’re able to find out about their interests to make them feel welcome. Including pieces of them, like photos, school artwork or report cards throughout the house after they’ve settled in can help them feel a sense of home and belonging.


    Give A Choice

    As a parent, providing structure and authority for children is important, but it’s also necessary to give them choices. Often trapped in situations out of their control, it’s beneficial for foster children to be allowed some sense of empowerment in being able to make certain decisions for themselves, even if those decisions are seemingly inconsequential. Give your foster child a few different options and allow them to choose from them when it comes to what to eat for dinner on certain nights, what to watch on family movie night, or even which household chores they want to help out with. By considering their opinions and honoring their wishes on certain things, they will feel respected, valued and included as a member of the family.


    For more information about foster care services or foster care issues, contact us at (618) 688 – 4727.

  • 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.