A Conversation with Jeanean Jacobs, President & CEO of Family Ark
By Stacy Thomas
May is National Foster Care Month. If you are an adult with a heart for children, Family Ark wants to talk to you. With just days until their annual fundraiser – Giving Hope to Families, which was on April 16 – our writer Stacy Thomas had a chance to catch up with Jeanean Jacobs to discuss all things family.
What is Family Ark?
Family Ark has been around for more than 40 years providing foster care and other community based services to the children and families of Southern Indiana. Regional Youth Services acquired Noah’s Ark Children’s Village in Jeffersonville in 2012, and took on a new name, Family Ark, which conveys the fact that we provide programs and services for the entire family. At Family Ark, we believe in second chances – a second chance for a child to find a safe, loving, compassionate home, free from abuse and neglect; a second chance for families to grow stronger and stay together; a second chance for children to heal, learn, and grow up happy. Family Ark serves all children and parents of Southern Indiana.
How did you initially get involved with Family Ark?
From my experiences, I knew that in order to achieve greater outcomes, I needed to be involved on the front end of services. I strongly believe that it is in the best interest of children – when done safely – to preserve their belonging and connection to their family of origin. In order to help kids, we need to help their families. Indiana was one of the first states to participate in the Child Welfare Demonstration Project (Title IV-E Waiver) and has a federal child welfare-funding waiver that allows it to implement innovative and evidence based strategies. This attracted me to Indiana, and to Family Ark. The waiver provides the funds to exercise best practices, while keeping the family intact. These interventions are designed to improve outcomes for children and families – family preservation; trauma informed care; kinship supports, and parenting education – safely reducing the need for foster care.
What are some examples of human service programs provided by Family Ark?
Our foster care program involves caring adults who make positive changes in the lives of children who have experienced neglect, abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, or trauma. Foster parents provide a safe, stable home environment. Our home based services preserve, support, and stabilize families in crisis, while creating healthy, nurturing relationships. The goal of family preservation is to prevent a child from being removed from the home when possible. Recently, we started a program that provides on campus activities for youth ages 12-18. Opened in December, Family Ark’s Day Reporting and Treatment Programs (DRTP) provide an alternative to juvenile detention. The program includes education planning; life skills training; community service projects; recreational activities; evidence based treatment; and family involvement.
What is your definition of a healthy community?
A healthy community is one that provides resources, education, and support for children and families in need… investing in its people… providing preventative services… and resources that empower and enrich… providing opportunities for connection.
Does Family Ark partner with other organizations?
We are currently partnering with Purdue Extension to provide meaningful outdoor experiences to at-risk youth from our DRTP and foster programs. Utilizing our wonderful 83-acre campus… children learn new life skills, and an appreciation for the outdoors. Through a grant from the Department of Child Services, we partner with St. Elizabeth’s and Center for Women and Families with programs designed to prevent child abuse.
How can people help Family Ark?
We can always use help managing the grounds – refreshing our playground or flowerbeds. Volunteer opportunities include providing childcare during foster parent training or youth tutoring. We always need able, caring adults to be foster parents. Our foster parents run the gambit from younger adults to those who are empty nesters and have already raised children. Unrestricted monetary donations can help with operational costs. In April, we have our annual fundraising event – a great way to contribute, while learning more about Family Ark’s programs.
101 Noah’s Lane
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
Mission: To provide quality human service programs, which promote positive change in the lives of children and families in the communities we serve.
Wish List: New or gently used clothing; school supplies; backpacks; duffle bags; toys/games; non-perishable food items; cleaning supplies; books; diapers; home goods. Monetary donations are also accepted.