2020 Impact Report


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Through our passion for supporting youth in achieving their full potential,
we are dedicated to the safety and health of those we serve.

Through supportive external partnerships and internal teamwork, we maximize our shared knowledge, skills and talents to create the best possible outcomes and celebrate our shared accomplishments.
Through all interactions, we strive to be kind, empathetic, non-judgmental and open to understanding others’ perspectives. We welcome and encourage diversity in thought and deed.
Through our drive for continuous improvement, we challenge processes,
programs and opinions to inspire and create new ideas, approaches and opportunities.

Through consistently exhibiting honesty and respect, our reputation for having strong ethical principles instills trust in those we serve, as well as others who support our mission.
Through focus and commitment to our mission and goals, we accept and meet
challenges with grace and an eagerness to deliver our very best every day.

Dear Friends of YSS,

Fiscal year 2020 is one for the record books. We won’t soon forget the many challenges we all faced as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world. And yet, through it all, YSS not only maintained, but grew, our impact on youth and families in Iowa. We reached new milestones in several programs across the agency, transformed facilities, and expanded programming to reach more youth and families.
Below are just a few of the highlights.
• Mentoring celebrated 20 years of partnering kids and mentors. The program has served more than 8,000 kids in that time.
• Kids Club also celebrated 20 years of service and will be adding two new sites in the fall of 2020. This program has served 7,912 children.
• Teen Maze won the Silver Award from Kiwanis International. In nine years of hosting Teen Maze, 574 volunteers have given 7,480 hours of time to serve 9,117 seventh graders.
• Our new YSS Crisis Stabilization Program opened in Mason City to serve children and their families that need short-term support during a difficult time. The program has been so successful that we’re replicating it in Central Iowa.
• We saw client appointments with outpatient mental health therapists increase despite the pandemic.
• More than 400 clients were moved to telehealth within two weeks of the outbreak of COVID-19.
• Two staff were added in YSS of Hamilton County to meet the mental health needs of the community.
• Phase one of the Building Hope Campus Transformation project at YSS Francis Lauer in Mason City launched.
• YSS of Marshall County completed the renovation of their new building into a welcoming and healing environment and subsequently added behavioral health staff to meet the growing demands of the community.
• Land was purchased for Iowa Homeless Youth Centers Rooftop Gardens in Des Moines.
Continue reading for a full picture of all that was accomplished and the significant impact YSS made on
the lives of youth and families across Iowa.
Of course none of this is possible without the support of our donors, volunteers, and staff. Thank you for your gift of time, talent, and treasure, and for believing in our mission of creating hope and opportunity.

Best Regards,
Andrew Allen, President and CEO

Teen Maze is an experiential learning event for seventh graders from 14 school districts in Central Iowa presented by YSS and Division 11 Kiwanis Clubs. Teens begin by drawing scenario cards or spinning a wheel that indicates a “choice” for them. The teens then follow the interactive maze to discover the realities accompanying different choices in a safe, non-judgmental environment. As choices and consequences compound, participants realize how the course of one’s entire life can be affected by a single unfortunate decision.
Division 11 Kiwanis Clubs developed this signature project in collaboration with YSS and hosts it yearly to educate youth about important issues facing adolescents. The event brings organizations and communities together with the common goal of creating healthier, safer, and more knowledgeable young teens. Teen Maze addresses topics like smoking, getting a job, pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, mental health, the impacts of social media, peer pressure and so much more. Students consistently report the event is fun, educational, and will directly impact future choices.
Every year, Kiwanis International recognizes the best signature projects throughout the world. This year, 212 tier II projects were submitted for the Kiwanis International contest. The Kiwanis International Board of Trustees Committee on Service and Partnerships selected Teen Maze as the Silver award winner in tier II. This is an incredible acknowledgment of the power and impact of the project and we look forward to partnering with Kiwanis for many years to come.

TYLERWith the dramatic rise in rates of teen suicide, anxiety, and depression, YSS staff in charge of Teen Club implemented a daily mental-health check-in where students let staff know how they are feeling that day. Check-in responses include great, okay, meh, struggling, struggling and need a check-in, or in a dark place and need a check-in. This system has helped staff know when someone is having a tough time and allows staff to discretely pull that student aside and talk to them one-on-one.
When Tyler, age 13, indicated he was in a dark place and needed a check-in, staff were able to reach out to him and offer assistance. Tyler had been fighting with his parents at home due to his failing grades in every class. He told staff he had more than 20 missing assignments and didn’t know how he would ever catch up.
Staff made arrangements with Tyler’s teachers so every day after school he could work in their classrooms to get caught up. Staff also assigned specific college volunteers from Iowa State’s FarmHouse Fraternity and Youth Sports Outreach club to help tutor Tyler and keep him on task. By the end of the quarter he had all of his missing assignments turned in and was excelling in his classes! He was so proud of himself and how the hard work had paid off.
The mental health check-in system has helped youth verbalize and think about their feelings daily. We’ve seen students struggle with homework, home life, friendships, and peer pressure. Knowing how a student is doing allows us to address issues as they arise and before they have serious negative consequences.

Prevention Programs:
Before- and After-School
and Summer Programs
• Kids Club
• Teen Club Impact Program
• Summer Enrichment

Education and Prevention
• Child Abuse Prevention
• YSS Mentoring
• Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention
• Substance Abuse Prevention
• Human Trafficking Prevention Services
• Tobacco Prevention Education
• Youth Employment and Development

Parenting and Life Skills
• Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP)
• Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Services (FaDSS)
• Baby Bump and Beyond
• Family Nest
• Healthy Futures

BOBBYBobby was a young man struggling to manage his mental health when he entered the Crisis Stabilization Program at YSS Francis Lauer in Mason City. In the six months leading up to Bobby’s placement in crisis stabilization he had been hospitalized on three separate occasions for suicidal ideation and combative behaviors in the home. His parents were worried for their safety.
Bobby’s family had recently relocated to the area, which was adding to his stress. And while he had been working with a therapist, that level of care was insufficient to meet his needs. The Crisis Stabilization Program provides youth (12-18) and families with an alternative to the hospital when a short-term higher level of care is needed. Bobby lived in shelter on the YSS Francis Lauer campus while he and his family worked independently and together with staff across the agency to manage his mental health needs and support the family.
While in the program Bobby had the opportunity to focus on the stressors contributing to his suicidal ideation. He was able to improve both his social and communication skills and he learned to express his feelings with words rather than violence. These new coping skills helped him to stop engaging in combative and assaultive behaviors at home.
And with Bobby temporarily out of the home, his parents were able to utilize this time to work on their parenting skills and develop strategies for Bobby’s return home that would allow the entire family to succeed.
Bobby safely returned home upon program completion and he continues to receive outpatient therapy, but in the months since discharge, Bobby has not been suicidal or aggressive toward his family members. Bobby and his family have hope for a better future!

SUSIEAt just 17 years old, Susie was facing adult felony charges including possession of drugs, intent to deliver, and possession of stolen goods. She was completely estranged from her family, living with her boyfriend, and barely making it to school. Susie was court ordered to inpatient treatment at YSS and, as an angry and hurting young woman, she was not happy about it. Susie began working with a therapist and they engaged in intensive individual therapy before adding family counseling to the mix. She also participated in group therapy consisting of a female responsive curriculum that focused on healthy relationships, family connections, trauma, and pet therapy. Lastly, she took advantage of several skill development groups and on-going staff support.
After four months of hard work, Susie graduated from the program in February and returned home. The court had agreed to expunge her record if she maintained the positive changes and stayed out of trouble, which she has done. Since leaving YSS, Susie has graduated from high school, gotten a full-time job, and plans to attend cosmetology school.
Susie’s mom said “because of YSS we have our daughter back! I am so proud of the changes she has made.” Susie’s little brother said “everyone used to fight a lot and I would just hide in my bedroom, but now home is a happy place and I like having my sister back.”
And Susie reports that she is now able to openly communicate with her family, has a lot more patience, and is better equipped to handle her stress and frustrations without getting angry.

Treatment Programs:
• Adolescent Residential Addiction Treatment
• Outpatient Mental Health Therapy
• Group Therapy
• Substance Use Counseling
• Psychiatry and Medication Management
• Integrated Health Services (IHS)
• Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS)

ALICEAlice came to Rosedale Shelter at age 15 after being removed from a foster home due to ongoing substance use. The plan was for Alice to transition to residential addiction treatment, however after receiving care at Rosedale Shelter where she was able to remain sober, staff felt that Alice could return to foster care and continue outpatient treatment. Unfortunately, very few families are willing to take in a teenage girl with a history of substance use, so Alice stayed at Rosedale Shelter for 239 days.
Throughout her stay in shelter Alice remained connected with her sisters and went on visits with them at their foster homes. She also maintained connections with church friends and went to several church activities in her hometown. YSS staff encouraged Alice to stay engaged with positive social activities and events outside of shelter so she could develop and maintain supportive relationships within her community.
While in Rosedale Shelter, Alice took part in several YSS programs including outpatient counseling, mentoring, and Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP), a program designed to empower youth in the foster care system. Alice joined the YSS Youth Advisory Board to End Homelessness and the YSS Public Policy Committee.
Through active participation in the various activities and events, Alice learned to advocate for others and, most importantly, herself. Near the end of her stay at Rosedale Shelter she requested to be placed in a foster home with her sister. Unfortunately, Alice was unable to go there, however, she was discharged from Rosedale Shelter to a home near her sister’s foster home.
Alice continues to engage in extracurricular activities, is an excellent student, and has maintained her sobriety. She is optimistic about her future!

Tammy had a less than stellar upbringing. At just six months old her mother surrendered her to an older couple who raised her until she reunited with her mom at age 11. However, Tammy never lost touch with the couple and they remained an important part of her life until their passing. From a young age Tammy knew she wanted to give back to kids in need and now she and her husband are doing just that.
Tammy and Scott Losing began fostering children in January, 2017. Most of the children have been reunited with their birth families, while four remain with the Losings. If they have their way, the situation will become permanent. Tammy and Scott had the pleasure of taking in two young brothers, ages 11 months and 25 months, in April, 2018. Shortly afterwards, the boys were reunited with their birth father who made the unfortunate decision to allow their mom to watch the boys unsupervised. Sadly, she drew the boys a bath and left them alone in the tub where the youngest drowned.
The elder sibling was immediately returned to Tammy and Scott’s care where they worked with YSS Family Connections Case Worker, Mindy Speake, and others to ensure the toddler’s permanent safety and well-being. It’s been two years now and while there are still challenges, he is doing remarkably well. He has an older brother in another foster family and the two families get the boys together regularly to maintain that familial connection. Last year they celebrated Thanksgiving as a family.
But Tammy and Scott didn’t stop there. Around the same time they welcomed two girls, ages 2 and 6, into their home. The girls were eventually reunited with their mother, although shortly thereafter a brother was born and immediately placed with the Losings, who never stopped seeing the girls. Just months later their mother passed away and the girls returned to the Losings. Tammy and Scott are now in the process of adopting all three siblings.
Tammy is grateful for the support she has received over the years from YSS case workers, family safety permanency workers, friends, family, and many others. As she says, it really does take a village to raise a child.

Child Welfare Services
• Emergency Shelter
• Crisis Stabilization
• Child Welfare Diversion
• Family Foster Care & Adoption
• Day Treatment Program

MATTMatt struggled with significant mental health challenges for many years and did not have family support to help him. These circumstances caused him to experience multiple bouts of homelessness over the years. In 2019, Matt connected with YSS in Des Moines at the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) where he received food, clothing, and hygiene items while he slept on the streets.
He appreciated having access to a warm shower and free wireless internet at the YOC. On several occasions staff were able to connect Matt to housing, but his mental health condition and transient nature made it difficult for Matt to secure the housing. Staff didn’t give up and eventually they were able to secure and facilitate Matt moving into his own apartment. Staff helped him obtain furniture, food, and supplies needed to furnish his apartment. When he saw his mailbox on move-in day he was very emotional saying “this is the first time I have had my own home.” Matt is still doing well in his apartment and accesses services at the YOC on a weekly basis.

HAILEYHailey is a young woman who shows us all that with perseverance and hard work, and support services from community organizations like YSS, it is possible for individuals to overcome the worst of circumstances and achieve their goals.
Hailey was born and raised in Des Moines to a single mother struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine. For years, Hailey and her little brother experienced trauma including neglect and abuse, both emotional and physical. Hailey’s mother would leave the kids at home alone without supervision for days at a time. Hailey can still recall these painful times; the hunger they experienced and the fear and anxiety of trying her best to care for herself and her brother all alone. Her mother’s parental rights were terminated when Hailey was in middle school. By the time she graduated high school she and her brother had transitioned through several foster families.
At 18, Hailey aged out of the foster care system and was referred to the Iowa Aftercare Services Network, YSS’s state-wide program for youth who age out of state care. While in the Aftercare program, Hailey indicated she was interested in pursuing education beyond high school. However, Hailey was reluctant to pursue more schooling due to the cost and concerns about how to navigate the higher education system. That is when she was referred to Iowa Homeless Youth Centers’ Post-Secondary Education Retention Program (P-SERP), and with the help of the program, Hailey was connected with an IHYC Advocate, applied for financial aid, met with an academic advisor, and enrolled in her first semester at DMACC.
Hailey recently celebrated her graduation from DMACC with her IHYC advocates and mentors and shared that she accepted a job in Indianola. Hailey graduated debt-free, is now earning a salary of more than $50,000, and is looking to buy a house closer to work. We can only imagine the positive impact Hailey will have on her community, inspiring others who have experienced adversity to persevere and pursue their goals in spite of it all.

Transition Services:
• Iowa Aftercare Services Network (IASN)
• Preparation for Adult Living (PAL)
• Post-Secondary Education Retention Program (P-SERP)
• Street Outreach
• Transitional Living
• Youth Emergency Beds
• Youth Opportunity Center
• Rapid Re-housing
• Drop-In Center

MARCUSMarcus graduated from YSS’s Adolescent Residential Addiction Treatment program in May. Since then he has stayed connected using the eRecovery app from CHESS Health. We know that long term success requires connection to a strong network of supportive people, and this app gives teens that opportunity using technology at their fingertips. The eRecovery app enables continuous communication between clients, peers, and the care team to reduce isolation, promote trust and compassion, and reinforce skills needed for long-term recovery.
Using the app, Marcus can reach out to his advocate when he is struggling and tempted to use drugs. For example, Marcus wanted to help a friend who was abusing drugs but he didn’t want to risk his own sobriety. He communicated with his advocate through the app and was able to get the support he needed and the encouragement to open up to his parents so they could intervene.
Marcus is really proud of how his relationship with his parents has improved. He now feels comfortable reaching out to them where before he was secretive and avoidant. Marcus is extremely grateful he completed treatment at YSS and said “I am confident I can stay sober because I know I can reach out for help at any time using the app.”

AMYAmy first reached out to YSS of Hamilton County when her daughter was struggling and in need of counseling. When faced with the decision to place her daughter in a psychological medical institute for children (PMIC), Amy realized she too needed help. “We were at the hospital and a nurse asked me how I was doing. It was the first time I really stopped and thought about it,” Amy said.
Subsequently, Amy reached out to YSS again, but this time it was for her own well-being. Amy quickly realized she was not engaging in self-care, lacked self-esteem, and was in an abusive marriage with three children relying on her. As Amy put it, she felt completely lost and stuck.
While in therapy Amy learned to identify and take care of her own needs, set boundaries, and accept and manage what she does and does not have control over in her life.
Amy is grateful to YSS for helping her become a better version of herself, connecting her with opportunities, and for helping her see that she is worthy no matter what is going on in her life.

The Youth Homelessness Demonstration ProjectThe Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) issued two grants totaling $415,813 for Iowa Homeless Youth Centers. One grant supports our mental health and drop-in center services at the Youth Opportunity Center in downtown Des Moines. The funding will allow us to expand mental health services for homeless youth in Central Iowa. The other grant supports our Youth Rapid Re-housing program and will support 14 rapid re-housing units in Polk County. This funding will allow us to place youth in safe, stable living arrangements and connect them to the resources they need to build self-sufficiency.

$50,000TelligenTelligen issued a $50,000 grant to implement the e-Recovery App from CHESS Health into YSS’s residential addiction treatment program. The app is an evidence-based recovery tool used to support clients as they transition home from treatment.

$200,000Variety – The Children’s CharityVariety – The Children’s Charity approved a grant for $200,000, which will support the Building Hope Campaign to transform the campus at the YSS Francis Lauer facility in Mason City.

$100,000Juvenile Court ServicesJuvenile Court Services issued YSS an expansion grant to extend the bilingual counselor program in Marshall County into 21 counties. This program offers in-home and family counseling sessions for Spanish speaking families.

$42,000United Way of North Central IowaThe United Way of North Central Iowa issued one grant totaling $42,000 to support the emergency shelter in Mason City. The shelter operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and can serve up to 15 children on a daily basis.


In 2019, YSS was selected as the beneficiary of the proceeds of the annual Georges Niang Golf Outing at the Ames Golf and Country Club. The event was a huge success and YSS netted just over $62,000. A significant portion of the funds raised at the event went toward the purchase of a new van to transport youth to and from wellness activities. The remaining funds were used to create the Georges Niang Wellness Fund to cover costs of items and activities that mentally, emotionally, and physically help our kids succeed.
YSS would like to say thank you to Georges Niang, Lyndsey Fennelly, Betsy Waite, Ames Golf and Country Club and all the sponsors and participants who helped make this event great. Betsy and Lyndsey logged countless hours organizing the details of the event and Georges, in addition to lending his name and support, made a significant donation and raised a large sum of money as the event auctioneer! It was a wonderful event and we appreciate all the hard work of those involved.


For 20 years the McCay Family Endowment supported awards for young parents. After the 2018 event, the McCay family, in conjunction with YSS staff, realized we were reaching just a small portion of the clients we serve and there were many deserving recipients of this type of acknowledgement. So, with the backing of the McCay family, YSS staff embarked on a mission to create awards that would be open to all YSS participants across the state.
The end result was spectacular. Two awards each were given in the following categories: Youth Leadership, Achievement, and Perseverance. The top two nominations from all those submitted were awarded the Dale McCay and Rose McCay Awards, for a total of eight awards. Nominations came from all over the state and from a variety of programs. It was a true representation of all that we do at YSS and those we serve. A special thanks to the McCay children for establishing the endowment in their parent’s honor and for being open to reinventing the event to recognize all those we serve.


With the arrival of COVID-19 in March of 2020, YSS employees across the agency sprang into action to ensure we could continue providing our services and delivering on our mission. And while some school-based services had to be paused, most others were able to continue with little disruption. In under two weeks all outpatient therapy appointments were transitioned from in-person to telehealth.
And while the change to telehealth presented a few challenges, there were also benefits to the new system. The attendance rate for appointments went up because people were at home and all they had to do to see their therapist was log on. We also saw an increase in appointments in the fourth quarter due to increased demand arising out of stress from the pandemic.
Similar adjustments were made for Family Development and Aftercare services. Rather than go into homes and meet in person, we transitioned services online and to phone-based so we could maintain contact while staying safe. And while it’s certainly not the same as meeting face-to-face, the changes have allowed us to continue to provide services to those in need.

Marcy Baker
Joseph Barrett
Judy Blank
Katie Carlton
Gina Christian
Laura Jontz
Alison Kanne
Nathan Lentz
Mark Linder
Magda Lippold
Lori Neely
Mary Oliver
Amy Peters
Jack Segal
Mary Sheka, Chair
Sandra Suarez
Betty Torgerson
Patrick Willer
Libby Zaletel
YSS Francis Lauer
Raymond Beebe, Chair
Chief Jeff Brinkley
Michael Davis
Pat Tomson
Heidi Venem
Jesse Watters
Jenn White
Shannon Wooge
Tracy Worley
Tracy Wynn
Taylor Williams
Hamilton County
Doug Bailey
Kathy Birkestrand
Ron Birkestrand
Gayle Olson
Thomas McLaughlin
Sonia Cejas
Connie Ingraham, Co-Chair
Laurie Johnson
Mona Everson
Boone County
Judy Albritton
Deanna Anderson
Carolyn Finnestad
Lorraine Hamel
Sandi Johnson, Chair
Leone Junck
Joyce Peterson
Joseph Russell
Judy Tungesvik
Marshall County
Fred Lembke
Meri Edel
Michael Tupper
Kaylee Howe
Amy Pieper, Chair
Pat Kremer
Natasha Schultz
Chris Vaughn
Norma Meade
Madi Hardman
Ken Fox
Fauna Nord


Judy Albritton
Nahla Atroon, youth
Jim Black
Gary Botine, Chair
Jeff Brinkley
James Bucher
Tim Day
Mona Everson
Martino Harmon
Kim Houston
Patrick Kremer
Lindsey Long
Randi Peters
Mike Phillips
Monica Porter
Mary Sheka
Suzy Shierholz
Brian Torresi
Austin Woodin



Judy Albritton
Jim Baker
Ron Birkestrand
Rod Copple
Deb Fennelly
John Kinley
Robert Knight
Sophia Magill
Eileen Patterson
Amy Pieper
Dalton Robey
Doug Robey, youth
John Russell, Chair
Charles Small
Keith Swanson
Robert Waggoner
Mary Wells
Karen Wickert
Taylor Williams
Libby Zaletel


YSS Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
YSS Prevention Policy
YSS Public Policy
YSS Personnel Practices
YSS Facilities & Risk Management
YSS Finance & Audit
YSS Foundation Finance & Investment
YSS Friends & Holiday Giving
Story County Juvenile Justice