Spotlight – Boys Town of LouisianaMarch 1, 2021Bringing resources to area families Without realizing it, you’re probably already familiar with Boys Town of Louisiana (BTL), an organization meeting the needs of local youth and their families since 1989. The organization’s variety of services help kids of all ages, with services and programs touching 7,600 Louisiana children and families annually. Rashain Carriere, Executive DirectorFounded in 1917, the national organization Boys Town is particularly known for its residential services. Today, Boys Town services can help a child for life – both boys and girls – from infancy with Early Head Start programs through high school and early adulthood intervention and support. Rashain Carriere Williams serves as Executive Director of BTL. Intervention & Assessment One key responsibility of Boys Town is assessing a child’s needs and intervening and removing them from dangerous situations. They provide care for abused, neglected, runaway, and delinquent kids of all ages, with the ultimate goal of reuniting them with their families or placing them in other permanent care. The kids come to Boys Town through local and state agencies. Residential Programs The residential programming is an important aspect of Boys Town locally. “There are three homes in the community,” Williams says, “with up to six boys in each, ages 12 to 17, and a married couple living with them. These are kids who cannot make it in a typical environment.” The married couple living with the boys is key to this family-style model. The couple have support and training to help them deal with each resident’s unique problems. Ultimately their goal is to teach the residents social and independent-living skills that will help them find success in school and their community. In-Home Family Services BTL has shifted focus from residential care to family services as a means of successfully keeping a child in their own home instead of defaulting to outside placement or foster care. In this capacity, the team partners with families to teach them relationship skills, and help them access and navigate community services, such as food insecurity and housing needs. Williams explains that research-based models and a philosophical mindset are key to this effort: “Families have their own strengths; they come to us when they’re at their lowest point. They’re referred to us before the child is removed from the home, and we are there to partner with them and don’t make assumptions or judge them.”Community Support Services Boys Town also shines by helping families tap into available community services. One is Early Head Start programming that gets an infant or toddler school-ready, and assures their future academic success. Another successful program is Common Sense Parenting, where trained instructors teach parents how to enhance their parenting skills and build healthy relationships with their children. Williams says, “We are very strongly positioned to continue to save children and heal families in Louisiana. And yet the need is so great in our community, I feel like we could do more; we’re always looking to fill the gaps.” Boys Town Louisiana - New Orleans 300 N. Broad Street, Suite 106, New Orleans, LA 70119 504.293.7900 boystown.org Trevor Wisdom is a mom and native New Orleanian, and managing editor of Nola Family.