February Program Highlight: Jenda Family Services-Lincoln

The Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association (NJJA) reached out to probation officers across the state for names of providers doing great work with juvenile justice youth in Nebraska.  Numerous names of organizations and programs came into the NJJA office.  One of the many names that came to NJJA was Jenda Family Services in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Jenda Family Services has recently expanded their traditional non-treatment services for family support to include clinical services, including court-ordered evaluations, intensive family preservation services and will soon be offering outpatient treatment group services.

NJJA contacted Jeff Schmidt, President of Jenda Family Services, for his perspective on the work they are doing in the region.  Jenda’s mission is to “Help families grow the next generation of parents.”

Jeff reports that Jenda is able to do this by sticking to four simple core philosophies: “First, and foremost is that everything we do has to benefit the families we work with.  Second, is that clients and the other professionals we work with are to be treated with respect.  Third, is that we do what we say we are going to do.  Finally, we remember at all times that no model, practice or theory can ever take the place of the relationships we build with each client.”

Judicial Probation District 3J utilizes Jenda’s programs extensively and Jody Busse, 3J’s Juvenile Justice Resource Supervisor, says that Jenda’s evaluation team has been very open to finding solutions to problems and working together. “The evaluation team has been very willing to creatively problem-solve with officers for what is most needed for a specific juvenile,” says Busse. “This may be specific to the frequency and intensity of trauma-related treatment, the need for transition age types of services, and too creatively problem-solve treatment and/or service recommendations.”

Busse also reports many dividends from working with Jenda’s Family Services Team. “They (Family Services Team) have collaborated on a number of very challenging Intensive Family Preservation cases.” Busse elaborated, “Jenda’s team members will go above and beyond to demonstrate persistence, commitment and support to a family.  In any number of cases, this has meant moving families from a “state of chaos” to a “state of functionality.”

The focus on the youth and families is of the utmost importance, but like any organization or group, keeping in mind the needs and moral of those providing the service is also of great importance. Jeff states, “Everything our management team does has to help our direct staff do the work that really matters – the day-to-day work with clients.   We treat each other with respect, value our relationships with each other, and hold each other accountable to our core philosophies, and, we have a lot of fun!  We think it’s important to celebrate the positive steps of our clients and of our staff.”

On behalf of NJJA, we want to thank Jenda for its commitment to serving system-involved youth and families.  This is one example of the great work that is ongoing in our state that will help make Nebraska’s juvenile justice system the very best in the United States.