The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF) International has announced that Youth & Family Resource Services (also known as Forest Ridge Youth Services) has been accredited for three years for its community housing and shelter (juvenile justice) and residential treatment (children and adolescents program). A new certification for Counseling supports the existing Forest Ridge programs.
This is the second accreditation that the international accrediting body has awarded to Youth & Family Resource Services. This accreditation decision represents the highest level that can be awarded to an organization and shows the substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a three-year accreditation has put itself through rigorous peer review and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, with measurable outcomes and accountability to all stakeholders.
CARF is an independent nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served.
YFRS is a not-for-profit organization with a local Board of Directors that include Mary Ann Hoffmeyer, Mary Hart, Steve Whiting, Travis Rosinger and Jen Sievert. Forest Ridge has been providing residential treatment services and shelter care in the Estherville area since 1983. Sherry Williams, Director of Admissions, was one of the first employees of Forest Ridge and remains an integral part of the success of Forest Ridge.
"We have over the last 29 years worked with nearly 5000 young women, men and families," said Williams. "Each came with their own story their issues and needs. Gradually we have learned to listen well, to teach each student in a manner that they can learn, help them come-to-terms with life situations and to provide support for reuniting families whenever possible. I have been honored to be a part of this program."
Forest Ridge's contributions to the Estherville community continue to grow. Forest Ridge students are eager to give their time in the community in a number of ways. Forest Ridge spends time at Rosewood and Good Samaritan nursing homes, assist with ground maintenance and work in the orchard at the convent in Jackson, provide assistance to the Halloween Association and Parent Action Team, Team Wave (in Okoboji), and Adopt-a-Highway.
Students speak to high school students on the impact of bullying and have spent time in the juvenile justice classrooms at Buena Vista University and Iowa Lakes Community College. Forest Ridge annually participates in Relay for Life efforts and was a host site for the Live Healthy Iowa Walk and will do so again in October. Through this positive involvement with the community, girls at Forest Ridge have learned the value of community. They not only learn about giving but have also experienced many of acts of kindness from the community. Crossroads Church and the Motherhood group, Bob Grems at the Regional Wellness Center, Mary Quitno and the Spirit Lake Presbyterian Church, Gardening with the Howings, Girl Scouts, WaTanYe treats and coats, writing materials from Joann Christensen are just a few of the examples of generosity toward the youth.
Forest Ridge is a member of the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union participating in junior varsity volleyball and basketball and varsity track. These opportunities have allowed them to experience success in an area that seemed out of reach previously. Several girls qualifying and participating in the state track meet in Des Moines.
Forest Ridge offers classes designed for early intervention for youth. These Aggression Replacement Training classes focus on teaching youth healthy communication, coping and decision making skills. Classes are running several times throughout each year for community members as well.
Over the last 10 years as a means of tracking program effectiveness, Forest Ridge conducts outcome studies for students who have gone through the program. On average, the rate of students being successful (not re-offending) has been over 70 percent. This tracking system allows Forest Ridge to follow students and build upon programming that has proven to be effective in transitioning back into the community and implement changes in lives that will be lifelong. CARF accreditation supports this on-going assessment of program effectiveness and facilitates program improvements.