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New parent education program gains recognition

Partnering with others is kind of what the Youth Service Bureau does.

The 2015 nonprofit of the year assists kids, parents and law enforcement by attempting to reach youths before they end up in the court system. YSB staff goes into schools, businesses, and churches to teach classes on parenting. And they’ve started a speakers bureau, relying on local experts to assist in the collaborative effort.

The goal is “working as a team with local community members,” said parent education coordinator Sarah Holmboe, who was hired not long ago to develop the parenting outreach program.

On the back of a nomination that emphasized its new parent education program, the nonprofit earned an award this month from the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce. Holmboe will be present at the awards ceremony on Friday.

YSB offers expertise in: general parenting (development, discipline and parenting basics); mental health (including stress and anxiety); chemical health (drug facts and talking with kids about chemical use); behavioral health (understanding the risks teen take and other behavioral issues); sexual health (understanding healthy relationships); bullying (how to recognize bullying and what you can do to help prevent it); social media (a resource guide for parents, plus all things tech); and information and support for teens and pre-teens.

“It’s impressive,” said Jennifer Wallen, the president of YSB’s board of directors, the director of commercial contracts for ICF International, a Woodbury parent, and the woman who nominated YSB for the chamber’s annual award. “It’s not the same world we grew up in.”

Wallen’s nomination focused on the practical tools and resources offered by the parent education program, including information on social media.

“It’s just such an honor that she thought of our parent education program as something to be honored,” Holmboe said.

Holmboe said that in Woodbury, YSB has partnered with many groups. For example:

- At Woodbury Youth Resource Connection, YSB had a youth and family therapist speak on supporting positive self-image in youth. Fifteen community members attended.

- During the District 833 Resource Fair, the YSB program director and youth and family therapist spoke on mental health, to an audience of 54 teachers, parents, and community members.

- A teacher development day at Math and Science Academy in Woodbury featured one of YSB’s youth and family therapists, speaking on stress and anxiety. Thirty-three school staff members attended.

- At Lake Middle School, Holmboe presented on social media alongside Tony Zdroik of the Washington County Attorney’s Office and 48 people attended.

- At Liberty Ridge Elementary, 18 people heard Holmboe’s social media presentation.

- Last fall, 11 people attended a fall series of parent education classes in YSB’s Woodbury office on a variety of topics.

- A series of presentations is scheduled at King of Kings Lutheran Church. The social media drew 17 attendees.

- Holmboe also presented on social media to a group of Girl Scouts. Some parents were in attendance and each girl brought home resources to share with family.

Next up: Red Rock Elementary’s parent-teacher organization, Woodbury Lutheran Church’s MomsNext group, and another social media presentation at Lake Middle School.

“This is a fairly new area of expertise that has been well received in the community,” Wallen said.

The speakers bureau — “the big thing that we’ve been focused on in the last year,” Holmboe said — allows the presentations to include multiple speakers like those from County Attorney Pete Orput’s office. As YSB started in the 1970s as a diversion program, attorneys offer a “valuable side of the discussion,” Holmboe said.

Wallen said the organization remains committed to early intervention, youth counseling and diversion.

Adding the parent education element adds another in-road for YSB, since parents of kids who are getting into trouble often ask for help.

YSB is actively seeking more local partners. Staff will even come to places of businesses during work breaks or for staff development through its lunch and learn program.

“In addition to in-person presentations,” Wallen wrote in her nomination, “recorded webinars and podcasts will be added to their website in 2016, to reach even more parents.”

Youth Service Bureau, with offices in Woodbury, Stillwater and Cottage Grove, focuses on Washington County youths and families, but is open to serving anyone. Youth Service Bureau’s new location at 7876 Hudson Road, Suite 1, in Woodbury is a convenient stop for people from elsewhere.

For more information, visit ysb.net or call 651-735-9534.

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