I Am: A Care Moment Between a Residential Youth and Staff

At the ground-breaking event, Diana recited a poem that earned a standing ovation from the crowd titled 'I Am'. We are so proud of her for getting in front of the crowd and showing how amazing, genuine, and bright she is. Residential Therapist Rebecca Rudolph and Program Manager Deanna Howard each worked with Diana, our youth in care who was selected to speak at our groundbreaking ceremony.

Diana is a 14-year-old foster youth who has experienced trauma and is also intellectually and developmentally delayed. Since arriving in January, she has made significant progress. “I've learned to control my anger and use my words to communicate better,” Diana said. She likes the staff and admits they've helped her a lot. She helps her peers too. “They know they can come to me for help,” Diana added.

Diana selected Deanna to sit with her at the ceremony. Deanna indicated that she has a strong rapport with Diana as a result of their many talks in the evening (relationship based). Deanna said she knew Diana was getting nervous on the morning of the event so she continued to encourage her by telling her how great she was going to do (competence centered). Deanna shared that Diana thanked her for allowing her to be part of the ceremony to which Deanna replied, “you got this. You are important and loved. If you get scared up there just look at me,” (Developmentally focused).

Rebecca reinforced these same care principles saying that she practiced the poem with Diana and said she was comfortable working with her because of their good relationship. Rebecca said she read the poem to her a couple times first so Diana could hear the tone and pauses in the poem and then she listened while Diana practiced reading it. Rebecca says she can tell Diana is starting to see that she is loved and cared for by her peers and staff at Hoyleton and knows that is great progress. Both Deanna and Rebecca are so proud of what Diana has accomplished.

 

 

Mobile Farmer's Market Helping the Hispanic Community

With the help of Beet Box volunteers, Puentes de Esperanza: Bridges of Hope is providing healthy options, social opportunity, and something the community can look forward to. Puentes uses the ecologically-oriented CARE principle by meeting our Hispanic community members where they are physically and situationally.

Since the start of last summer, Puentes de Esperanza has partnered with the Land of Goshen Community Market located in Edwardsville, IL. Through this partnership, the community served by Puentes can receive fresh produce from local farmers at a low cost. The volunteers of the Goshen Community Market drive to Fairmont City the “Beet Box.” This food truck attracts the attention of the community, and the word is spread on produce being sold. The members of the community can walk down the street from their homes to choose their produce. Clients can choose from a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nonperishable items to take home for 25 cents. Everyone in the community is welcome to choose their own produce.

Famer’s markets have increasingly become a staple in most towns, and they continue to expand as years go by. With the use of the Beet Box, the community of Fairmont City can have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, without having to travel far. In Fairmont City there are not many grocery stores that can provide fresh produce. This results in members of the community turning to unhealthy options of food. Within the Hispanic culture, many individuals from their country of origin are used to choosing their own produce and knowing how fresh it is. In most Hispanic countries the use of mercados is an essential part of living. Mercado in English means market. Mercados are not just a place where people buy and sell produce, but they also provide a place where social events occur. They bring joy and liveliness to a community and create a sense of belonging.

Farmworkers In the United States contribute to the production and distribution of crops. They play a key part in the nation’s economy. Migrant farmworkers have helped feed America and have faced obstacles throughout the years. At times, when people grocery shop, they seldom forget the backstory behind the farmworkers who work long hours to provide us with produce. Within the Puentes family there are many migrant farmworkers who work long hours in the fields to provide for their families. The clients even think of Puentes and if produce is in abundance, they bring them some as well. Team members have been happy going home with fresh corn to enjoy with their own families. Puentes de Esperanza is thankful for the clients they serve and continues to support them and provide resources to better suit their family needs.

With the help of Beet Box, they proudly can continue to provide produce and something to look forward to for the community. They also take into consideration the opinions of the clients and look for more produce available that they may prefer. Mothers of the families are thankful that they do not have to leave their homes to buy produce but rather can get it at a low cost right outside their doors. Puentes de Esperanza will hope to continue to continue this partnership for years to come and continue to expand their resources.

Learn more about our Hispanic community support here: https://hoyleton.org/programs/hispanic-community-support/

Hagar House: A New Beginning

The Hoyleton Transitional Living Program for Pregnant and Parenting youth has been converted into a Transitional Living Program (TLP) for developmentally delayed females aged 17.5 to 21. The living arrangements for the clients in this program have also changed. Our clients now live in a duplex in a residential neighborhood with 3 young females living on each side. This home provides a much more comfortable living environment which aids in our client’s healing and growth.

The small number of clients in the home allows our staff to build strong relationships with each youth and creates opportunities to be more developmentally focused. While living in the TLP our youth learn how to cook, clean, manage finances, practice personal hygiene, self-care, social skills, and more. When youth leave the TLP they should possess the life skills they need to live in a CILA (Com-munity Integrated Living Arrangement), group home, or in their own place based on their level of independence.

The transition from the previous TLP facility to the new home-like setting hasn’t just been beneficial for the youth, our staff appreciate it too. The Hagar House staff say they now feel more relaxed while at work and find themselves having more fun and engaging in more positive interactions with the youth which leads to stronger connections and better outcomes. Hagar House Program Manager Pandora Harris said, “there have been a few bumps here and there, but everyone is moving towards their goals and we’re looking forward to experiencing that success.”

Pandora has been the program manager at Hagar House since September 2022. She has been very successful at building special relationships with each of the young women in her program. Pandora embraced the CARE model since the day it was introduced at Hoyleton and utilizes the care principles on a daily basis. Pandora’s leadership at Hagar House has also benefited many of her staff who have learned the importance of the CARE principles as well as the ability to stay calm in tense situations from watching Pandora’s actions.

Pandora understands the importance of being trauma informed and approaches client and staff challenges with tender words of understanding and a gentle touch to acknowledge them and let them know she is there to help and support them. She has earned the respect of each of the young women living at Hagar House and they all affectionately refer to her as “Mama.” Pandora works hard every day at instilling confidence and self-worth in the young women in her care at Hagar House and she makes sure she validates their feelings when they share stories about their lives. Pandora spends a lot of her time giving guidance to the youth at Hagar House about finances, the importance of school, friendships and relationships because most of these young women never had a parent or role model around to discuss these topics with them. Hagar House now looks like a family home on the outside and in many ways feels like one on the inside too.

It Takes A Village

The volunteer commitment looks different for everyone. Some people give their time, some people give monetary or planned gifts. Some people have been volunteering for years across different programs and others come for specific programs. Whether it’s been passed down through family generations or becoming a new tradition, the hope and sense of community our volunteers provide youth is irreplaceable.

“Just knowing that this is directly helping my community, seeing the results in my community, make volunteering worth it. Helping people I hadn’t known were struggling and making the neighborhood better,” expressed one frequent volunteer.

Hoyleton takes a holistic approach to meeting the physical, mental, and emotional needs of youth and families, which provides numerous opportunities for volunteers to lend a helping hand. Below is a selection of ways to get started.

Clerical/Office Assistance

Staying organized is a priority for keeping an office running smoothly. Volunteers assisting with filing, phone calls, bilingual assistance, and general office duties help our staff work efficiently and effectively.

Hike & Bike and Trivia Nights

Churches and community organizations across Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, and Washington counties hold events throughout the year and give the proceeds to Hoyleton. The annual Hike & Bike is a 5K, 10K, and half marathon that donates earnings to fund specialized programs for our youth. Trivia Nights are an option that let groups have fun while volunteering and meeting new new people. Various events are shared on social media and our events page.

Back to School

Each year, kids pick up their new backpacks stuffed with pencils, notebooks, markers, and more just in time for the new school year. Our volunteers help us ensure that every child has the supplies they need to be successful in school by donating supplies, stuffing backpacks, and helping with the picnic for kids and parents.

Hope for the Holidays

For most, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but for some of the youth and families we serve, the season can be difficult. HYFS makes it our goal that every child in our care has a gift to open during the holidays. Our annual Hope for the Holidays drive urges our donors and volunteers to get involved by donating, shopping from the wish list, and wrapping presents. Join us in helping those we serve.

It Takes a Village

Over 127 years, our team members, programs, and locations have changed, but our mission has stayed the same: to help children and families build brighter futures so our communities can improve and become stronger for everyone. We cannot achieve this mission without the compassionate efforts of all our volunteers and donors. If you are searching for a way to get involved, check out our volunteer page or contact Christy Schult at cschult@hoyleton.org

LGBTQ Youth Resource Guide

Gain a better understanding of the lgbtq youth in your care with this compiled list of local resources, including support groups, affirming care centers, and guides for supporting youth to the fullest.

Hoyleton CEO Chris Cox Discusses Self Care on Fox 2 News

Our President and CEO, Chris Cox, joined Fox 2 Now's Studio STL to discuss the importance of self care. You can't pour from an empty cup, and you don't have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Watch below to learn more:

Self Care is the practice of actively nurturing one's happiness and well being, and it's not as hard as you would think. Self care can  be as big as tackling your bad habits, or as small as making a cup of tea. Taking a small amount of time for yourself can help find balance in other areas of your life, too. Holistic wellness can be put into 8 dimensions that focus on different aspects of everyday life. By taking care of one dimension, we often see the others improve. Read more in depth about SAMHSA's 8 dimensions of wellness.

Hoyleton CEO Chris Cox Discusses Youth Suicide on Fox 2 News

Our President and CEO Chris Cox joined Fox 2 Now's Studio STL to discuss youth suicide, the warning signs associated and how to engage our children in conversations. Watch below to learn more:

Explore the mental and behavioral health counseling services offered by our Forward Counseling Care program here.

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services teaches parents how to spot the signs of suicide

Hoyleton | Engaging Youth in a Time of Crisis

 

The world has spent most of this year learning to live in a new normal. Mollie Dale, Program Manager at Hoyleton’s Koelling Cottage, is experiencing exactly that. Every day Mollie works with children on the autism spectrum and must find ways to deliver educational changes that do not hinder their growth and ability to develop life skills.

Koelling cottage is home to 10 boys between the ages of 13 and 21, all who have moderate developmental delays. “These kids thrive on schedules, so any kind of change in their schedule can be difficult,” she says. “When COVID hit, we really had to make the best of it and be as consistent as we could be as we found a new normal routine for them.”

Schools in for the summer

Koelling is one of five cottages located on the main Hoyleton Campus. Like the other cottages, it is set up to provide the children with life skills training, access to ongoing education and the opportunity to develop social skills with their peers. 

A typical day for the children included getting up, attending to personal hygiene, cleaning up their rooms, heading off to school and interacting during social time back on campus. The schooling part of the day now takes place entirely at the cottage. “The schools will send packets to us, and we’ll help instruct the classroom assignments each day,” explains Mollie. “Then they end the afternoon with free time to do activities either inside or outside.”

One of the biggest challenges has been the limited socializing among the boys. Typically the children across the five cottages could interact with each other during campus-wide games and activities. “They have lost some of those close connections,” says Mollie. “But we also know that we need to take this seriously and keep taking precautions for the health of the residents and staff.”

New ways to stay engaged and active

In the past, the staff at Koelling would also take the kids out to go shopping or see a movie. Each received a small allowance and enjoyed getting away from campus. Now they have to stay safe and find ways to entertain themselves in or around the cottage grounds. Thus far, keeping the boys close to home has kept everyone safe with no COVID cases being reported. 

“Our staff has been outstanding with coming up with creative activities to keep the boys engaged,” says Mollie. “Whether it’s making tie-dye shirts or spin art, we do our best to keep things fun and active around here.”

Like most young boys, the staff works to burn off as much of their energy as they can. “One night we decided to turn on some YouTube videos of different dances to see if we could do them,” says Mollie. “The boys had so much fun that it became a weekly dance party!”

 

As the staff comes up with new ideas for activities, sometimes there is a delay before they can do them. “WIth the need to maintain the staff to youth ratio onsite, we can’t just run out to the store at a moment’s notice notice,” explains Mollie. :But again, the staff is great and will volunteer to get things to bring in the next day for us.”

A surprise donation to lift up spirits

Mollie was surprised one day when an anonymous donor reached out and wanted to lift up the spirits of the boys. They wanted to provide a picnic and some fun for everyone, so Mollie was told to get on Amazon and order what she needed. 

“Since we can’t go to a waterpark or pool, I asked if I could get a giant tarp,” she says. “We created our own slip and slide, which was the big hit of the summer.” Along with the supplies came a gift card for a fried chicken dinner and matching shirts for the boys and staff. “We are really big into matching shirts,” says Mollie. “They seem to bring everyone closer together.”

Moving forward in the new normal

As COVID precautions continue, Mollie and team continue to keep things in perspective. “We really have learned not to take everything so seriously,” she says. The team takes things one day at a time and are thankful for a group of kids that are resilient and understanding. “If you stopped by and didn’t know any differently, you wouldn’t think anything was going on,” says Mollie. “That’s a testament to the kids and this great staff.”

How you can help

When asked how people can help, Mollie was quick to respond. They are always looking for activities to keep everyone entertained and busy, whether it’s games, DVDs, crayons, party favors or any other types of indoor activities, especially as winter approaches. 

“We truly appreciate our partners and donors for all they have done to help these children, especially this year,” Mollie says. “It’s that type of support that allows us to see the boys thrive and continue to grow with their life skills here at the cottage. Hoyleton supporters are giving them futures they deserve.”

To learn more about Residential Care and how you can help, please visit: https://hoyleton.org/programs/therapeutic-residential-care/

Hoyleton | ParentSmart Program

Hoyleton Announces ParentSmart Program

Due to a 40% increase in infant deaths through 2018-2019, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services started its ParentSmart initiative in September, 2019. The ParentSmart program takes aim at educating young parents and guardians of infants on the dangers and risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or commonly known as SIDS. SIDS became a common term in 1969 to bring national awareness to unexplained deaths in infants that shared common characteristics in their passing.

The ParentSmart program is headed by Haunah Vanlaningham. Haunah works and is a volunteer at Hoyleton Youth and Family Services Prevention Department, and is the administrator and moderator for the growing ParentSmart community on Facebook. Haunah is currently in the process of obtaining her Master’s degree. As a mother of one, and with another child on the way, Haunah brings with her a passion for children, a desire to take an active role in the prevention of infant death, and is an advocate for the safety of all children.

The ParentSmart program focuses on topics such as the ABCs of Safe Sleep practice. The ABC’s are that the child should sleep Alone, on his/her Back and in a Crib. ParentSmart coordinates speakers for safety seminars, and provides a variety of resources for SIDS awareness. ParentSmart takes an active role in the community via social media with its primary focus being on education, communication, and plans to introduce interactive classes with partners in the community.

There are a variety of ways to become involved with ParentSmart. Follow their page on Facebook (@ParentSmartCDITF) to learn more about what Sleep Safe for infants and children includes, how you can educate on the prevention of infant deaths, and more importantly, how you can help other young couples and new guardians of infants keep children safe.

If you have questions about Hoyleton’s ParentSmart program, please reach out via Facebook messenger or you can email Haunah at cditf@wordpress.compu-type.net. If you witness the mistreatment of a child or have concerns about the safety of an infant, please reach out to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services 24 hour hotline immediately at 1.800.25ABUSE.

#Hoyleton125 #ParentSmartCDITF #HoyletonCAREs

Informational: ParentSmart is part of a cooperative with the Illinois Child Death Investigation Task Force of which Hoyleton Youth and Family Services is a fiscal agency thereof.

Hoyleton | Why Diversity is So Important

Why Diversity is So Important for Our Team and Clients

The definition of Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, one’s religious or ethical values, national origin, and political beliefs.

Sit and think about that for a minute.

Let me begin by stating that this blog is not a blog to start a debate on any of the topics listed above. However, this is a blog to educate you how Hoyleton has the capability to serve ALL people, no matter the range of human differences because of our own unique differences because of the people we employ. 

As this new week began at Hoyleton, we were lucky to have a new staff orientation. On weeks like these, we get to meet our new family members that will join our specific areas of service within our family and community. Each of them are unique and have different backgrounds, experiences, education, and social understandings. Some of them are starting their first job. Some are beginning a second career in life. And some are just glad that in the age of COVID we are hiring and they can support their families. Our new family may also be single parents with master degrees in social work or a young adult that is starting their first job as a youth counselor at the Hoyleton campus. Some are joining us to see how we operate the CARE model compared to their previous organization. No matter why they have chosen Hoyleton, we are glad they are here. 

Each and every one of them brings a new and unique perspective to the departments that they will serve. They bring a history of personal experiences, cultures, beliefs, and values, which has molded them to be who they are today and how they will serve our clients. 

The uniqueness of each of us at Hoyleton is what makes this serving the community we live in, support, and serve even better. 

Here is what we asked our employees during our annual employee survey and why we know they love and seek to work at Hoyleton.

“What do you like most about working here?” 

The number one answer was the mission and the people we serve.

81% Responded with the Mission and the People we Serve

The mission is what we do and the people are who we are and who we serve. And to have 81 percent of the organization stand behind the mission tells the real story at Hoyleton. This response is very clear because at no time does one area or one department get singled out to carry what the agency does as a whole but the WHOLE agency does it all.

The second highest response to the question was working with their co-workers. This response promotes the family feeling you get when you join the Hoyleton family. While salary, benefits, and even flexibility were choices for the survey, the top two responses support the purpose and the history of CARE, which was created and taught by Cornell University, that we give and that the employees support that as well.

If you are ready to join Hoyleton and start a new career you can join our diverse staff by clicking hoyleton.org/careers. We know that you will be a great addition to our family and we look forward to you joining us.