Sunrise Youth Bureau leads state by receiving shelter care certification

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Jul. 20—DICKINSON — The Sunrise Youth Bureau (SYB) is the very first certified shelter care agency in the state of North Dakota, receiving its certification on July 1 — permitting the facility to shelter five youth ranging from 10 to 17 years old.

Along with SYB's Director Holly Praus and Youth Advisor Amber Hofstad, the North Dakota Department of Human Services helped initiate shelter care certification following the last legislative session. Brittany Fode, licensing and level of care administrator for the Children and Family Services Division, spoke highly of SYB's leadership in being first in the state to follow through with the certification.

"This is really, in my opinion, a testament to their agency and their board leadership and really embracing change and moving the need forward to really do better and support children and families in the community," Fode said.

Praus noted that they will continue to provide attendant care. According to the North Dakota Association of Counties

website

, attendant care is a non-secure alternative for the supervision of juvenile offenders, allows law enforcement to return to their regular duties more quickly, reduces state and local liability and provides a best practice option for low-level juvenile offenders. The attendant care and shelter care are two separate programs, she added.

"We're really excited, of course, with changes. There's a little bit of nervousness that goes with it, but we're definitely excited and we're excited to have this collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Human Services," Praus said. "So far, it's been great working with them; they've been very helpful. It's kind of been a stressful long process to go through, but we were definitely pleasantly surprised that we were the first in the state of North Dakota to get shelter care certified just because we are a smaller agency and we are in western, rural North Dakota."

Hofstad added, "Had we not became shelter care certified, we would not have been able to continue to take youth that need to be placed for a short amount of time for our local human service zone. So like she said, we had to do it to be able to continue to help the youth in our community and the surrounding areas."

Along with the SYB leading the pack, the Northwest Youth Assessment Center in Williston is awaiting its shelter care certification that will be issued by the end of this week, Fode said, adding that western North Dakota is becoming an innovator of this for the rest of North Dakota.

"... Our certified shelter care programs really are there to offer temporary care, while present danger or a crisis is existing in that home. And so, the intent of providing that shelter care is for a safe bed for children and really to offer a diversion from those children entering foster care as that early intervention strategy that is really used to minimize crisis and increase support to families," Fode said. "This is a huge benefit to those children agencies that are in the community. By having more temporary shelter care capacity really provides that safe place for children to go while we, as agencies, are putting needed support services in place for those at-risk children and families."

Hofstad also spoke on the importance of diversion at the SYB.

"Diversion is the main thing that I do here. So I work closely with juvenile court. So when a child is cited with a low-level offense or a minor offense, juvenile court diverts them to our agency to meet with me. So I work with the youth in the family on the problem behavior that we're seeing that got them cited. We have consequences given out here," Hofstad said, adding that she gives educational classes to address the issue. "... So I really just try and come up with anything that can help the child learn from the situation and make better choices in the future."

SYB

services eight counties within western North Dakota and include Stark, Dunn, Billings, Golden Valley, Adams, Hettinger, Bowman and Slope. According to Praus, these counties have prevalence over other counties because they provide funding to the SYB.