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What we believe…


Kids need to be more than the description on a form, more than their litany of errors, more than their mistakes and diagnoses. Kids who are put in the group home level in their teens have traveled a road of mistakes and missteps, but we need to quickly see their emerging strengths (the opposite of every weakness is a strength – obstinate can actually be strength of will, put in the right direction) and snag every positive attribute we can to urge them to be responsible for their actions. We need to re-entrench them into the fabric of society and give them the skills, tools and confidence to succeed.

Kids need to be taught…


Kids in out of home care are further behind than their age peers in academic skills, basic life skills and decision-making skills. It takes a concerted and hands-on effort to assist them to rise to functional levels; it takes an applied academics approach.


Kids need grace…


This is a radical approach; the authoritarian discipline is to make them earn and learn. There is merit to having kids own their behavior by earning an allowance or specific freedoms, but the poor behavior of these kids is making a statement – they are reacting, asking for attention or trying to save face. They may know no other way to behave. If we put so many sanctions on them that they never earn their privileges, what is the reason for trying? They may as well do what they want as they will never succeed in being “good”. At CLYS we extend grace; we don’t make them earn their ‘allowances’ – we start them out with funds, and fine them when they miss the mark, but allow them to earn it back in our Banking on You program. We invest in them by building relationships as we move them toward following common social rules. We don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior but being on restriction for days on end teaches the youth nothing but frustration. A little grace, judiciously applied, makes for a better youth.

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