PREVENTION: How its seen in Behavioral & Strategic Initiatives

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– Excerpts from an interview with Ed Rund, Director of Behavioral & Strategic Initiatives
by Dan Smith on February 19th, 2015

 

DAN: I am here this afternoon with Ed Rund. Ed, why don’t you tell us about your role here at Quakerdale?

ED: Okay. My role here at Quakerdale is the Director of Behavioral and Strategic Initiatives. I am responsible for the overall functioning of programs across the agency. I oversee the behaviorally contracted services that we have at our sites in New Providence, Waterloo, and Manning.

DAN: To help people get an idea of what those are, what are some of the common names for those programs or services with which we would be familiar?

ED: These would include Residential Treatment Services with children and Child Welfare Emergency Services with the children and their families. And we also do Shelter Services in these locations.

DAN: And all these services are generated through State contracts?

ED: Yes, these are all State contracted services. We receive referrals from agencies like the Department of Human Services and Juvenile Court Services. Every now and then we do get a request for some private services so that can happen from time-to-time. But as a majority, they’re all contracted services.

DAN: Quakerdale has what it calls their “About Us” statement. It states that Quakerdale provides “… opportunities of prevention, education, and support.” How important is Prevention? How do you see it? What are some indicators that this is something we need to pay attention to?

ED: Prevention is the key to almost everything we do. When I think of Prevention I think of hope. Often times we work with families and children who have been starved of hope. So prevention for us is developing some new skills for dealing with some of the negative behavior that they have. We do a lot of skill building. That’s one of the biggest parts of our preventative programming. There are other aspects of it too. The other part of it is the spiritual aspect. That’s tied so closely to it. It instills hope on the spiritual level. And so we want to feed that part of the body as well. And so prevention can take place on a number of different areas; skill building as well as spiritual.

DAN: Is there a difference working with current behaviors versus what I might need to face in the future?

ED: No, I think they are all tied together. The skill building we do now is also addressing things to come. We want to replace the negative thoughts, the negative behaviors, the way that they’ve dealt with things before that haven’t worked out so well for them, with a new skill set. They’re always going to have the same kind of problems. They’re the same problems that you and I have every day. It has just been dealt with in a different manner that may draw a lot of attention or may not get them the results they want. So if we can teach them new skills or new ways to develop and treat these behaviors when they manifest themselves, they can short circuit the old ones and not end up back in the places that they’ve been before. Teaching them new skills lets them practice those things, and also gives them hope. Things can be a lot different; it doesn’t have to be this way.

DAN: Thanks Ed. We appreciate the work your group does for youth, families, and communities, because for many people, this may be their last chance.

ED: Exactly. We want people to be successful. We want them to be able to live their dreams. And often times they just don’t have the skill set to do that. And so prevention for us takes place on a couple of different levels. One is skill development, the other is their spiritual needs, and I think when you combine them both, it’s a win-win situation.


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PREVENTION: How it’s seen through Spiritual Life

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– Excerpts from an interview with Dave Holm, Director (February 19th, 2015)

 

DAN: I’m on the phone this afternoon with Dave Holm, the Director of Spiritual Life. Dave, one of the foundational fibers of Quakerdale’s ministry is Prevention. We talk about how we provide opportunities of prevention, education, and support. Pastor Dave, talk with us a little bit about Prevention. What are some things you have seen that help indicate that preventive measures are really, really, really, important to include in our Spiritual Life programming?

Pastor_DaveDAVE: What I have seen over the years is the tremendous damage from either dysfunctional or absent families. That seems to be the greatest hindrance and the biggest cause of problem behavior among our youth, and probably youth culture. Kids have come to us with all types of behavior of their own that’s negative, but also the fallout of negative behavior that they have been a part of. Prevention, there, I look at as being inner-generational. I think that probably one of the strongest things we can offer, other than immediate remedy, or opportunity for change, is the long-term look I have set with youth for years, individually and in group, and apologized for my generation when they talk about their parents, or the absence of a parent, or no dad. I was walking down the sidewalk here in Waterloo a while back and meta boy turning 18.

I said to him, “Well, what are you going to do when you turn 18?”

He says, “‘Well, I’m going to go live with my dad.”

I said, “Well that’s good. Where’s he live?”

“Oh” he says, “He’s in Michigan.”

“Well” I said, “When’s the last time you saw him?”

And he said, “I’ve never met him.”

Obviously, he never did end up there. He left our campus in an ambulance. I think the frustration and the imminence of turning 18 with no place to go really took a toll.

I work with the young people through role modeling of others, connecting them with church families, with our staff, with others who – like volunteers — role model. And I’ll tell them, you know, regardless of what your family has been in the past, your family that you become a part of in five to ten years, can be different. You can break the inner-generational trends and develop stability. Of course that’s a set of tools, that’s a set of skills, that’s a faith-walk that brings that to pass. But, proactively, looking at not just a temporary or even permanent solution to the existing, how can you structure your life so that these challenges aren’t a part of your lives going forward for your children, so they’re not dropped off at the shelter. How can you impact that, and look forward to that?

I have found grandparents to be our greatest asset in area churches. Youth activity is good. It’s always well received, and it plays an important role socially. But impacts have been most significant with grandparents. This is seen with the garden people who are coming to the cottages now. Many of our youth haven’t been in healthy relationships with people in this age group. I encourage them to look long in their life, and to walk in a different way.

Other areas would be connecting with churches, encouraging them in the family education and preventative measures by proactively addressing problems before they happen by culturing lifestyles that will not fall into the hardships that many experienced. So the preventative is really a part of the solution in the remedial or corrective. And with Quakerdale’s effort to accelerate the preventative through the basketball program and through a variety of our other ministries, I think the outcome can become tremendous.

I have the kids quote, Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall. And of course no one could put him together, but then the last line is, but God can. But isn’t it better if Humpty doesn’t fall off the wall in the first place? We can keep more Humpty’s from falling off the wall through role modeling, through the belief that in fact it can be different for them. They don’t have to live the lives that they grew up living. We give them the skills, the tools, and the encouragement to move on. We’ve always offered scholarship to youth if they look towards training beyond high school in college or trade school. It’s very important to create that influence that will point them in the right direction.

Specific training in relational connections – I try and help our staff see churches as resource centers. Not a place to get things, but when a youth is long past being with us, they see an area neighborhood church as a place to build a healthy direction. A place to resource family training, rather than the typical mindset of a church being a place to just go sit and listen, to see it as a place to get developed and trained. I think that the efforts that are being made are excellent. The young men in the five years of the basketball program who have gone out into scholarship and to college, I would like to see a 160 years of that. Could we even tabulate/count the damaged lives that would be avoided? We can’t, you know it would be theoretical. Picture young people not only leaving Quakerdale, but leaving a four-year college system in healthy environment.

DAN: As we wind up our time together, I would just like you to comment on one more thing, and we’ll wrap it up here. There are a lot of other agencies now out there that do very similar things to Quakerdale, service organizations. Quakerdale has intentionally infused the Spiritual Life component that many haven’t. What do you see, or what advantage do you think it gives Quakerdale by incorporating this in the lives of individuals, especially as it relates to preventive measures? How does Spiritual Life give Quakerdale an extra tool or a leg up in terms of being more successful at helping people through these kinds of challenges?

Reading_the_BibleDAVE: Quakerdale has the ability to go a step further, more than a step further, to leap beyond traditional care by treating the whole person; the body, soul, and spirit together. We understand that physical needs are often tied to a person’s psychological context and a person’s psychology is rooted in their pneumatology, or their spiritual life. We’ve heard of tremendous changes back over the years from young people. Lives were altered, by faith in Christ, by the nurturance of a church family, and by the reality of the power of God at work in their lives. They are not only different, but totally changed beyond traditional levels of treatment care. And I’m not referring to my touch; I’m referring to the fact that the agency has, over the years, emphasized the reality of the power of a Christian life. It’s been role modeled, it’s been observed. We’ve heard it from youth that have come back. I heard it today from a youth that was here 21 years ago. Our spiritual lives have the tremendous ability to give the necessary tools.

If the Bible is real, if Christianity is valid, then in fact, life without that component is at best inadequate. When we look at our culture, we can put computers on wrist watches, but we can’t seem to fix the tremendous damage to personal lives. That only comes through Christ. And we’ve been able to do that across the board in all of our ministries. It’s been exciting to see it happen. And the stories that have come back, the observations have really verified the fact that that component is the life difference for many.

DAN: Well, David, I want to thank you so much for taking timeout to visit with us about Prevention, for the work that Spiritual Life is doing, and your work with volunteers. We look forward to seeing the difference that Quakerdale is going to continue to make in people’s lives all across the State of Iowa as a result of the work God is doing through Spiritual Life. So, thanks for your time.

DAVE: Thank you, Dan.

Dave_with_happy_boys


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Residential Treatment: An Interview with Rob Talbot

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by Dan Smith on February 19th, 2015

 

DAN:  I’m on the phone this afternoon with Rob Talbot, Executive Director of Quakerdale. And we’re going to have a little discussion this afternoon about residential treatment and just kind of get to know it, where it’s going. So Rob, welcome, glad that you could join me today.  Tell me a little bit about RT, residential treatment, what is it?

RobTalbotB&W_SMALLERROB:  Well, residential treatment really is a contract that we’ve done with the state of Iowa for decades. Some of the parts of it have changed a little bit, but for the most part it’s about behavioral skills training for adolescents. It’s teaching them coping skills, how to manage their anger, how to communicate better, how to have better social skills and to help their family to work better together.

DAN:  So you mentioned that it’s a contract service that you do, who is that contract with?

ROB:   We work with the State of Iowa, and the Department of Family and Children’s Services. We have kids who come through social services and even kids who come through probation or juvenile courts.

Dan:  And what’s the typical length or stay of one of the residents when they come?

Rob:   At this point in time, it’s somewhere around 7 to 9 months that a youth would come. At the same time, if they are in our program, we would also be working with their family; they would be having regular family visits and helping them learn the skills they needed to learn together.

Dan:  And how long has Quakerdale been involved in RT?

Rob:   Well, a long, long time. You know to a certain degree since the 1970’s. It’s really the way that Quakerdale grew from being kind of a small farm program to being one of the largest ones in the state in the 70’s and into the 80’s. So there’s always been a contract or agreement with the State to help them kids. It turned around to treatment types of things where we’re actually … I guess I didn’t mention earlier we do counseling, family counseling, and individual counseling with the kids, and that happened more in the 90’s when  that was more of a part of the treatment services.

Dan:  So since the 70’s there’s probably been a lot of changes, a lot of trends. Can you kind of give us an idea of where it started, how it’s kind of moved a little bit, and where you’re seeing it’s trendy now in terms of the service and how its provided and where it’s going?

Rob:   Yes. It really has been, just like everything, it changes along the way, but you know it started out in the 70’s where there were really no strings attached what the kids could do. They came from all over the place, and then we could do lots of creative things with them. They helped out on the farm, they had all kinds of jobs and things. And then that changed because that was when child labor laws came into play. In the 80’s and 90’s it moved more into treatment so a lot of group treatment, a lot of groups and therapy and that continues to this day. It stays very, very intense kind of treatment services that we do. And it’s just evolved along the way and become more and more of a therapeutic or a treatment type of setting for kids.

Dan:  What are some of the current trends that you’re looking at now in terms of where it looks like conversations with the State, in terms of what RT might look like in future?

Rob:   Well, the big thing now is that our educational institutions and the State are all saying that this kind of services that we’ve done for a long time isn’t good for kids. And to be honest with you, there’s lots of people who don’t agreement with that. But it’s a trend that’s happening right now. And so it’s because of that, the State isn’t utilizing it as much as they used to. And so that means it drives up the costs when it doesn’t get used as much. And it’s really something that we’ve decided that we need to do some other things. It’s not that we don’t want to do it. It’s just that the State, who has always sent us the kids, says that they don’t need it or want it anymore, and so we are responding to that. We’ve been doing that in several different ways through the years, which has included changing utilization of our cottages and doing different and more creative things with them.

Dan:  So what is the State looking at to either supplement or replace residential treatment, where are they going?

Rob: The biggest thing that they really do want to do is in-home care. That’s what they call counseling in the home of the family who’s in need. And we do a lot of that, we’ve been doing a lot of that for some time. Probably as much of that as we used to do in residential care, we do about with as many families in their homes now than in our buildings. And what’s happened is as we moved into this reality, we’ve closed down some of our group homes, our treatment homes. And, so you know, the money that we’re using to underwrite the state programs – because they never have paid what it really costs to do the services – we taken those dollars that we used to add in to pay for the cost of the residential treatment services, and we’ve been starting new ministries; and so there’s all kinds of new things that have started over the last several years, such as our Promise Academy for kids and our Basketball Prep Academy Program, our Van Orman House for transitional living – women who are homeless and need to find a place for them and their kids, and they need to get skills. New emergency shelter in Waterloo, and community counseling services that really are growing and changing with the State – those are contracts. But also like in Marshalltown, we’ve also started a Ranch, we’ve always had a Ranch, we started an equine assisted learning services and psychotherapy services. So using our facilities in new and creative ways to make a difference and fill in gaps where people aren’t being served.

Dan:  It almost sounds like it’s … an indirect result of this is an opportunity for Quakerdale and others to do things in a completely new and different way that might actually have a more significant or long lasting impact, not just with the state contracts, but also in the private sector as well.

Rob:   Well, it’s true, I mean the reality is that we used to work really hard to get the State to change their mind on their opinions. And instead of really trying to do things, or telling them they need to pay us more and things like that, which certainly, if we’re doing a service for them, the law says  they’re supposed to pay the cost, but they just don’t do that. So instead of worrying about that we’ve really moved into saying, “What are the gaps in our community? How can we help out?” And really our ministry is to encourage hope, faith and growth in the communities and families we serve. So just because we’ve always done one thing doesn’t mean it has to always or will always be that way. And so we’re really seeking and looking for great opportunities to make a difference with other folks, other ways.

Dan:  And so in light of that are you also seeing other trends outside of where the State is going, that are having significant impact on how and the way that Quakerdale does a ministry, not only with the residential treatment program but across the board. Let’s say with staffing issues, or funding issues – what else is out there that’s impacting the service industry?

Rob:   I really find, becoming really very, very aware of lately, is our workforce issues. We have a very small workforce that’s available to us. We’re really having a hard time finding staff who want to do what we do. It’s hard work. It takes a certain kind of person and many of the people who’ve done this kind of work are retiring. And so we’re really struggling to find people who have a real heart for kids and families and want to do whatever it takes to do that. So, you know, there’s really three things that are going on right now that are impacting especially residential treatment. And the first thing is the workforce. It’s changing – and we’ve had some pretty high qualifications that are expected of them as we do these contracts, certain degrees and certain amounts of experience that are required, and those folks are not applying, and sometimes when they’re applying they’re not staying. So it’s a real big challenge. Another big thing is that the services are underfunded by the State, it’s very expensive to do. And they’re just not sending as many kids as they used to. So probably the third most important influence in residential treatment right now is they want the stay to be shorter and shorter. And so, the State is saying our contract is going to say maybe you’ll have 30 days to help a kid, where it used to be 9 months. And so the type of service that we are expected to do is in some ways seeming to be unrealistic and difficult to provide. Those are the three big things that are really hitting residential treatment at this point in time.

Dan:  If you were to take a look at the number of people that Quakerdale has served since the 70’s in the residential treatment program, can you give us a kind of an idea of the numbers that you were serving earlier, maybe at its peak time, where that is now, and then maybe speak a little bit, well, let’s just talk about that for a minute.

Rob:   In the late 70’s and moving into the 80’s, Quakerdale was one of the largest providers of residential services. I’m not sure you would necessarily call it treatment back then. But of residential services in the state, and maybe one of the larger ones in the nation, we had over 160 beds at least for some sort of time. And, you know, as time has passed and the perception of residential services has been changing over the decades, today we really only have 20 beds; and it used to be 30 just earlier this year. But we had to close one of our programs in Manning. And so we’re really down from our 160 plus down to 20 residential treatment beds at Quakerdale. And again, that’s for the three reasons that I explained before, that the high expense and if the State underfunds it, the high expectations, and that’s it just not what the future’s looking really hard for it. And then our workforce issues are some real challenges, and probably one of the biggest reasons we had to close. The last one we had kids to help but we couldn’t find the staff to do the job, we couldn’t find them and keep them. And so it was really a frustrating and tragic situation to be honest with you.

Dan:  Well as we look at the future … Obviously Quakerdale is a ministry, and as a ministry it relies very heavily on the support of volunteers, both in their time and their talent and their treasure. As you take a look at where Quakerdale is going and it’s continued desire to serve those people that need services, how might the public get behind where Quakerdale’s going and support your effort and the initiatives that you’ve got going?

Rob:   We’ve got a great group of people, who’s partnered with us for literally decades, and we’re very, very blessed by that, and we’re very, very thankful for that. We know also that that group of people is growing older and we’re losing many of them. We’ve been blessed to have them as friends, but we’re losing them. And we know we’ve got to get new, younger people involved, to catch our vision, catch our mission, and you know one of the first ways is volunteering . There’s all kinds of ways to volunteer and some would say if you’re going to volunteer at Quakerdale if you have to spend time with kids and that’s true. You will be around kids some, but pretty much any gift or talent that you’ve got. More and more high skilled skills that you may have, to help out in the offices are a real blessing to us. And then also that I mentioned before that we need workers who have the heart for ministry. So if you know of somebody or if you yourself that you have a heart for ministry, it’s not a big paycheck, but it is a big payoff for you to make a difference in people’s lives and we are blessed to have a great opportunity in providing that for people. And then always there are the financial partners that are vital to our future, and I realize that in this day and age that many of the people that have resources, financial resources, don’t really understand the needs in our community they are not really able to even maybe fathom some of the things that these kids and families go through because they’re removed from that. But Quakerdale is right there in the middle of it, we’re a great partner to be able to help you find ways to help others that you didn’t even really knew existed and so those are some of the great ways that people can be involved with Quakerdale.

Dan:  If I was interested in maybe taking a look at what that next step might be for me, either as a volunteer or a potential financial partner, what would my next step be?

Rob:   I think if you’re comfortable on the computer, on the internet, I would encourage you to take a look at our website, get a little bit of a feel when you go to our website, or go to Facebook and you put in some of the names of the things that we do, you’ll be able to see all kinds of interesting things going on, that might help you find ways that are special and interest you a little bit more than others. And also just giving us a call and say,”Hey, what can I do to help or here’s what I’d like to do. Will it work?” and we’ll be glad to talk to you about that, and come visit you even and see how we can join you in the things that you want to do for the Lord, or what’s heavy in your heart, and help you find a great way to do ministry with us.

Dan:  Well Rob, thank you so much for your time and we just really appreciate what Quakerdale does, for 164+ years, serving the youth and families and communities of Iowa. And we certainly wish the Lord’s blessing on what you’re doing and seeing what Quakerdale looks like 10 years from now, sounds like it could be significantly different.

Rob:   It’s going to be an exciting thing to see what God does next. Thank you.


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