News and Tribune

April 1, 2013

Decades of helping kids in need: Regional Youth Services celebrates 40 years this month

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — After serving more than 5,000 clients in crisis in Southern Indiana since 1973, Regional Youth Services will celebrate its 40th anniversary this month.

The child and family services center will host its inaugural Giving Hope to Families event. Regional Youth Services will launch its first ever fundraiser and unveil its new name at its celebration April 16.

Jeanean Jacobs, executive director, said through the years, Regional Youth Services has helped foster children and families, as well as families whose children have been moved from their home. 

“Our kids often don’t have a safety net,” Jacobs said. “Say for instance, a family is suffering with substance abuse or mental illness or homelessness, these families in crisis don’t have a safety net and neither do their kids. We provide a stable network for their kids to live in when living with their family isn’t a safe option.”

But state budget cuts in the Department of Child Services have hit RYS hard in the last two to three years, with different areas of their finances cut anywhere from 15 to 30 percent.

“It’s actually become critical to gain more community support to serve families who are in crisis and have been affected by abuse and neglect,” Jacobs said. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done over the last 40 years and want to continue our mission.”

She said with those hits in state funding, the organization needs to seek funds from donors to help continue services.

Along with ticket sales for the event — which cost $50 each — a silent auction and sponsorships will help generate money for the group.

But Jacobs said RYS also is celebrating their new name. They’ve consolidated operations to Jeffersonville and acquired the former Noah’s Ark Children’s Village. The group will reveal its new logo for Family Ark, which Jacobs said pays tribute to the legacy of both organizations.

But she said the organization doesn’t take a one-dimensional approach to helping children and families. Along with providing foster care, Regional Youth Services also helps the parents with a Home-Based Services Program. Children will stay with a relative and have a counselor make sure they transition, then provide services to the parents to help them prepare to get their children back.

There are also two homes on their property where two families get free room and board for providing foster care services in those houses. She said those families have both adopted children through those programs and have children of their own.

Debbie Nichols, development director, said the organization’s familiarity with helping families has made it a crucial group for the five counties it primarily serves — Scott, Floyd, Clark, Washington and Harrison.

“It’s the fact we’ve had so many years of experience in doing what we do and we know the area better than a lot of people,” Nichols said. “It’s a sad thing, but there are always children who are being abused or neglected. That need is always there and we’ve been doing this for 40 years.”

For information on purchasing a ticket, sponsoring a table or sponsoring the event, call 812-288-6800.