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Throughout the community, people need the kind of assistance that YESS provides


Today a child will run away from home because of being abused. Tonight a single mom will be hospitalized with no one to care for her 4 year old child. When night falls in Des Moines, there will be children who need a safe place to sleep, and families struggling to stay together. With this in mind, I am compelled to share a resource with you that strengthens our community but is not readily apparent. In fact, you may not be familiar with it at all.

Youth Emergency Services & Shelter is a human services organization that has been working to keep children safe and families together for more than 30 years. During that time, thousands of young people (more than1,200 last year alone) and their families have received the help they needed from the agency. YESS provides emergency shelter to children from birth through the age of 17, and an array of counseling services to families. The assistance YESS provides serves as a safety net for children and families that often have nowhere else to turn in times of trouble.

The problems that YESS addresses are as varied as the children and families served by the agency. Substance abuse, school problems, family violence, runaway behaviors, medical emergencies, homelessness and mental illness are just a sampling of the crisis situations that bring families to YESS. The agency is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure that help is available when needed.

YESS is unique in that families can receive the help they need without having to become involved with the Iowa Department of Human Services. The agency’s philosophy centers on addressing needs when they arise, rather than waiting for problems to become so pronounced that the final alternative is seeking help from the state. YESS works to return the child to their home and keep the family together. The services help divert the child from becoming a part of the DHS system.

YESS is able to provide these invaluable services through a variety of funding sources, including substantial assistance from United Way of Central Iowa. As a United Way member agency, YESS is required to provide information on the outcomes produced for children and families. Each year 70 percent or more of the young people served are not involved with DHS when they enter the shelter, and 90 percent of these youth return home after receiving assistance from YESS. Agency satisfaction surveys administered to both children and parents consistently indicate that more than 92 percent feel the child’s behavior has stabilized or improved substantially as a result of YESS.

As I said earlier, you may have never heard of YESS prior to this. I sincerely hope that your family never needs the type of help that YESS provides on a daily basis. More important, I hope that should the time come when your family does need help, YESS remains a resource that can strengthen your family, and in turn, our community.

Tim Grabinski is director of communications services at MidAmerican Energy Co. and chairman of the Youth Emergency Services & Shelter board of directors.

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