Before the establishment of the YES Home in 1981, there was nowhere for parental neglected children to be placed, except for jail. Children who had committed no crime were being punished. While in jail, there was no home life, no school, and they could be thrown in with juvenile delinquents or other offenders. The federal government realized a difference between delinquents and status offenders.

Youth Encouragement Services (YES) is an alternative to placing juveniles in jail. Serving five counties, Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Ripley and Franklin, the YES Home provides family home-type settings for teenagers as an alternative to institutionalization.

The plans for the YES Home began its program with one home, serving ten children, with a professionally trained couple as house parents.

Youths who live at the home attend local schools and use local recreational facilities to avoid removing them from their own environment.

The group home is for youths who for some reason should not remain in their own homes, but who are of an age when it is difficult to find regular foster homes. The children receive help for disabilities that have made it difficult to adjust in their community, such as psychological scars left by the breaking up of homes or other difficulties encountered through actions of a child's parents. Most of the children are referred to the YES Home from the court system.

YES Home was incorporated in 1978 after two other agencies which had set out to aid juvenile status offenders had failed.

Many persons in Southeastern Indiana had been interested in providing some type of alternative placement for juvenile status offenders, abused children and others instead of placing them in county jails or Boys and Girls Schools.

Several attempts were made to purchase property for use as a shelter home, juvenile treatment center, but attempts proved futile for one reason or another.

Originally, YES decided it was better to just work in Dearborn County, rather than to try to encompass the five county area, and that expansion could come later if necessary. YES members also decided it was impossible to provide a sheltered care center and juvenile treatment facilities at the same time.

The original directors of YES Home were James Wismann, Helen Conrad, Frederick Becktold, Betty McLaughlin, Mary McElfrish, Lyndall Breeden, Monica Connolly, Georgia Krider, Ruth Heist, Barbara Helfrich, and Pamela, Betsy and Harry Zerbe.

YES members originally proposed to construct a new building for a sheltered care center, and the cost of the new building was estimated at over $100,000. Since funds were short, YES discarded the new building idea. When the request was made for five acres of county land, Dearborn County Council became aware of YES's purposes and goals, and asked the organization to consider using part of the county home for the sheltered care center.

YES began to take a serious look at the county home, and found it needing renovations. With very little money and time running short, YES members went back to county commissioners and council and asked for assistance with the project.

By the time YES decided to use the county home, the board of directors had changed. Officers were also elected in 1980. They were: Betty McLaughlin, president; Pat Krider, vice president; Stan Kess, secretary; and James Wismann, treasurer.

The resident's length of stay will vary from one day to 6 months to a year. The average length of stay is one school semester.

Once the home was operational, the goal was that the shelter home not be a burden on taxpayers. They hoped to maintain the operation through donations, membership drives, money paid through the court for the care of the juveniles, and through other fundraising projects.

The home originally operated in the 25 rooms on the first floor of the old county home on County Farm Road.

The YES Home received a federal grant to conduct a study on whether it should renovate it's existing building, or construction and a new housing facility. At this time, the existing house needed much exterior and interior renovations and maintenance. In 1998, it was decided that the YES Home would pursue a grant to renovate the century-old structure.

The YES Home found itself in the midst of a $1 million face lift, thanks to grants from the county and charitable foundations. The renovations included heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing, interior walls, ceiling, floors, woodwork, exterior windows, interior doors, elevator, new staircase, demolition and other associated work. The historical appearance of the building was kept in tact throughout renovation.

After several years of renovation, the YES Home unveiled its new look to the public at an open house on Sunday, May 4 of 2003.

The improvements at the sprawling 18,000 square foot center included a major restoration of the upstairs into a comfortable and attractive living area to accommodate the children housed there.

There are separate wings for boys and girls. Some bedrooms house only one youngster, while others are shared by two persons.

The YES Home residents reach the upstairs by an elevator that has been installed on the north end near the back entrance to the building.

The new living area is also accessible via three new stairways. One narrow interior stairway was left for historic effect.

Other improvements include tuck pointing for the entire exterior, a new roof, box gutters, new windows on the second floor and modern new wood trim doors and fixtures have been installed throughout the living area.

All fire and safety codes have been brought up to date as well and a new hot water heating system was installed to replace an aging steam boiler heating plant.

YES Home director Cathy Piché and her husband, Philip, were the original house parents during the first seven years the home was in operation.

They left the program for a while, and she returned to manage the facility in 1994 and has been there ever since.

Meanwhile, the home is governed by a board of directors, Andrea Marine, President, and Michael Krienhop, treasurer.

Other board members: Jim Wismann, whose father was a YES Home founder, E.G., McLaughlin, whose mother, Elizabeth McLaughlin was a YES Home founder; Stephen Mendell, Elizabeth Morris, Stephen Johnson, Janet Platt, and Beverly Ester.

Youth Encouragement Services, Inc. | James B. Wismann Youth Home | 11636 County Farm Road | Aurora, IN 47001 | 812-926-0110