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Helping children and their families

FD office offers mental health, counseling services

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
teresa larson-white, director of substance abuse, YEP and community programs, shows off her collection of foam stress balls. CFI offers a full range of mental health services in the Fort Dodge area.

The staff at Children & Families of Iowa offers a variety of mental health, substance abuse and other counseling services, including a youth employment program, at its offices in Fort Dodge.

It serves six counties including Webster and most of those surrounding it.

Teresa Larson-White, director of Fort Dodge Substance Abuse, YEP and Community Programs, is particularly proud of the Youth Employment Program.

“It’s geared to 14 to 24 year-olds,” she said. “The primary goal is to help them return to high school or stay in high school. If they’re out, we try to reengage them. We help them find employment and help them gain job skills and we coordinate work experience with local employers.”

The Youth Employment Program is free to participants. It’s funded by a variety of state and federal resources.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Katie Royster, Children and Families of Iowa director of behavioral health, looks over some of the materierals she used in the therapy work with children and their families.

They also provide Child-Parent Therapy.

It’s relationship-based therapy that helps families cope with a variety of trauma.

“We have kiddos zero to five,” Larson-White said. “We deal with a bonding and other attendant issues. It take a lot of buy-in from parents.”

Trauma can mean a variety of things for the young patients and their care takers. Abuse and family separation issues are just some of them.

They make sure that in addition to working with the children, they also work with the rest of the family unit.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Children and Families of Iowa staff Katie Royster, director of behavioral health, at left, along with Teresa Larson-White, director of substance abuse, YEP and community programs, look over their upcoming schedules with Jen Montgomery, custormer service specialist.

“We work on additional services,” she said. “We have a complete range of family services.”

Katie Royster, director of behavioral health, frequently works with the younger children and their family.

She said she’s seeing a few trends, including children being reared by their grandparents, individuals who are often many years removed from day-to-day parenting.

“We’ve had children parenting children all the way to older adults,” Royster said.

They both find the work very satisfying.

“You have your tough days,” Larson-White said. “But there’s more positive. When you see people make change. Even a little one, for them it’s a huge change. You see youth graduate high school, get into Iowa Central then find a job. It’s so rewarding.”

“You made a difference,” Royster said.

There are also a variety of substance abuse programs offered.

“We are licensed to provide extended outpatient for adults and adolescent extended and intensive,” Larson-White said.

She said they also do operating while intoxicated evaluations and work closely with the Iowa Department of Human Services.

“I work a lot with DHS on some of their cases,” Larson-White said. “We’re also involved with family treatment court which is for individuals who’ve had their children removed.”

A client who comes to Children & Families of Iowa is carefully evaluated to make sure they receive the correct services and are then matched to a therapist, sometimes more than one.

“We all work together,” Royster said. “We match the client to the clinician.”

They also have a home-based program for individual therapy and medication management through Medicaid.

Larson-White said that once a client is approved for the program clinicians work with the family there.

“We might have a child with ADHD or depression, they might be acting out,” she said. “The clinician’s job is to go into the home to help them learn to manage the symptoms.”

“We work with a lot of parents that maybe don’t have the skills,” Royster said. “We try to break the cycle.”

They also work closely with a psychologist through telehealth who is able to prescribe any needed medication.

Licensed Mental Health Clinicians Myra Schnieders and Liam Burnside also see clients.

Children & Families of Iowa is located at 111 Ave. O.