Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
BVD 

Local woman working to build support to bring Youth Dynamics services to Lincoln

 

Emilee Rivera believes in Youth Dynamics, a Montana non-profit children's mental health agency, and she is working to raise awareness in Lincoln about what they have to offer.

Rivera, the wife of Lincoln's resident Deputy Sheriff Robert Rivera, worked for Youth Dynamics when they lived in Shelby and sees a need for their services in Lincoln as well.

"I always wondered why Lincoln didn't have it, even when I was in Shelby," said Rivera, who grew up in Lincoln. "When I got back, I just wanted to see what Lincoln as a community would have to do to bring ... the services here."

Youth Dynamics has been around since 1981. It provides a range of services for children who have behavioral challenges or emotional or psychological needs such as therapy, mentoring and substance abuse treatment. The organization also offers family services including foster and respite care, family education and parenting classes.

Rivera began working with Youth Dynamics in their Therapeutic Mentoring Program, which is similar to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, but more focused working with the kids toward established goals and documenting their progress. She and Robert went on to become foster parents through the organization, and she worked supervising visitations between foster kids and their parents.

When Riviera first returned to Lincoln, the Youth Dynamic office in Helena didn't have an area manager on staff, but they've since brought one on. She contacted him to find out what it would take to bring their services to Lincoln and was told there would need to be at least two families in the area in need of their support. She let him know there are already two foster families in town and said he sounded pleasantly surprised to find out Lincoln may need the services they offer.

With the two families who could benefit, Lincoln meets the minimum criteria for Youth Dynamics, but Rivera is working to spread the word further, throughout the community.

"I really think they just didn't realize the need in Lincoln, or they didn't have enough of a push," she said. "That's the biggest reason I'm going to all the community meetings, the clinic, everywhere; to try to get a full community presence behind this ... so when they're calling around, everybody already knows about it and they're on board and want to make it happen."

Rivera said foster care is a focus of Youth Dynamics' because foster kids and foster families - almost by default - tend to need the support the organization provides, but she said they also provide service for kids with challenges stemming from any number of issues, from the loss of a family member to ADHD or PTSD. She said some kids have just needed to vent or decompress by talking to someone from outside their family or group of friends who may have a different perspective on things.

"This is also a great opportunity for suicide awareness and prevention," she said. "They put on what's called Youth Mental Health First Aid. It helps you recognize when a child has mental health in disarray and needs help, before something happens to them. They do a lot of that."

Rivera said Youth Dynamics can be a big help to schools, where many of the issues kids are dealing with tend to manifest.

"It can be a really great resource, especially for small schools that have limited resources.," she said. "It's great to partner with whatever the school's trying to do."

Rivera has already discussed Youth Dynamics services with school Counselor Kathy Heisler and Superintendent Carla Anderson and will be talking to the Lincoln School board at their June meeting.

"We are very excited at the prospect of more help for kids, especially in the mental health realm," Anderson said.

Beyond helping kids, Rivera said bringing Youth Dynamic's services to town has a follow on economic benefit.

"Youth dynamics will hire local individuals to help fills some of their positions," she said. "It's a part time thing, but it's a great way for single moms, for retired people or for people who are looking to make a little extra money."

For comprehensive information on Youth Dynamics and the services they offer, visit http://www.youthdynamics.org.

 

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