Youth & Family Services (YFS) is a non-profit, tax exempt 501 C 3, community based provider. All services are offered at no charge or on a sliding scale fee (see Services page for programs available & program details). All employee's & volunteers at YFS have passed both a DPS & DFPS background check & must do so at least every 2 years. YFS is not a federal, state or county agency. YFS is not Children's Protective Services (CPS) nor do we perform any of the functions of CPS, such as removing children from their homes. In fact just the opposite is true...the goal of YFS is to preserve & strengthen the family unit. YFS primarily provides counseling, referral & community education. Persons employed at YFS live in the areas we serve. The staff at YFS are committed to providing the highest quality services available to the three county area.
Our hearts are warmed by small successes, helping children put circumstances into perspectives they can understand is sometimes all it takes to change their behavior in a more positive direction. One such case required a caring Family Support Specialist (FSS), 2 pieces of paper, some markers & 1 hour. The child was a boy, 7 years of age, who was having behavioral problems. In this particular session the FSS began talking with him about his family, his parents role & his role & the differences in those roles. They began to draw a boat for each of his family members, one for Dad, one for Mom & one for him. As they began to draw the boats, they discussed how big each boat should be. He decided Dad's boat should be the biggest, Mom's should be slightly smaller & his should be the smallest. As they drew, the FSS helped him understand his parents boats were bigger for a reason, because they had a lot of things they were responsible for, so they needed bigger boats. His boat was small because he was 7 & did not need a big boat. They talked about what he was responsible for in the family & related it to cargo on a boat. He wrote outside his boat the things he was responsible for, going to school, getting his homework completed, chores at home, being a good friend, etc. He instantly understood it was not meant for him to take on roles that were "too big", roles which belonged to someone else in the family. When asked what happens when a boat takes on too much cargo he replied "It sinks." The FSS was able to help him understand when he felt like he was "sinking" maybe he was taking too much "cargo" on his boat. He smiled at the FSS & told her he wanted to take his picture home because it made him feel happy & every time he looked at the picture he would feel happy. His behavior improved & the heart of a child was lightened.
The agency was begun in 1991 by Alice Strunk, who was the first Executive Director. The agency was known as Colorado County Youth & Family Services (CCYFS). The first office was located in Sunset Plaza in Columbus. Alice's mission was to obtain & then establish the STAR (renamed FAYS - Family and Youth Success) Program in Colorado County. In 1994 the agency was awarded an additional grant from The Texas Department of State Health Services to provide Drug & Alcohol Prevention Education programs. This program was school based and provided drug & alcohol prevention programs in Colorado County. By 1995 the STAR Program was so well received in the Colorado County area, YFS was asked to also include Austin & Fayette Counties in the STAR Program service area. At that time the agency was re-named Youth & Family Services (YFS). In 1996 the agency was awarded grant funding to provide OSAR (Outreach, Screening, Assessment & Referral services) to Austin, Colorado & Fayette Counties. Eventually the Drug & Alcohol Prevention Education Program was expanded to include Austin & Fayette Counties.
Unfortunately, by 2000, the state of Texas began cutting social service budgets and redesigning service delivery area requirements for funding. Drug & Alcohol Prevention Education programs were completely de-funded. The OSAR program, which had begun early in the 1980's in the Fayette County area, was no longer eligible to re-apply for funding. There was a minimum population requirement of 150,000 in order to apply for OSAR funding, which the three county area did not meet. These counties had come to rely on these services & suddenly they were no longer available at the local level by a local provider. The current funding design requires those in Austin, Colorado & Fayette Counties in need of OSAR services, as well as state funded residential substance abuse treatment services, to travel to the closest OSAR provider located in either Ft. Bend, Harris, Brazoria or Travis County to access this service. YFS believed the OSAR program was a valuable asset to these communities and set out to find a way to continue to provide the basic services once included in the OSAR program.
YFS has been able to fund these services with the client fee of $65.00 (which has not been increased in more than 10 years) for Drug & Alcohol Assessments. This fee, plus funding received from a Foundation which supports alcohol & drug programs, helps meet some of the program expenses. Funding for STAR services was also re-designed in FY 2012. Instead of funding STAR as it had been since it's inception, the State implemented a "fee for service" payment structure, which means instead of reimbursing STAR providers for their approved budgeted amounts (which includes only actual costs required to pay program expenses) under the fee for service model actual sessions provided are submitted for approval & payment. This has proven to be difficult for many STAR providers, particularly those in rural areas. The fee for service model necessitates the need for large amounts of fund raising activities. In rural areas, where there are limited resources for fund raising, this may prove to be detrimental. YFS exists solely on income obtained through a contract with DFPS, county donations, charitable funds from businesses & church groups, foundation funding & donations from the public.
We moved our Columbus office to a new location in Columbus on June 18, 2014. The Columbus office is located at 514 Washington St. We continue to maintain satellite offices in LaGrange & Sealy as well.
YFS: Who are we & what do we do?
Our Board Members
Dr. Rob Gobert Mary Kay Heffley
Fritzie Kulhanek Brenda Rainosek
Interested in applying to become a Board Member at YFS?
Please contact us.