FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


How do I get help from YESS?

YESS’ professional staff is available around-the-clock to talk to any youth, parent, or concerned third party. If you are in need of immediate help, call our 24-hour crisis line at 515-282-9377.

Where is YESS located?

YESS' emergency shelter, crisis nursery, and counseling programs are located in the Steven N. Blank Variety Club Youth Center at 918 SE 11th St in Des Moines, IA. The building is a former elementary school the agency renovated with outstanding community support in 1996. The location and the facility are ideal for meeting the needs of youth and families who turn to YESS for help. Click the map in the bottom left-hand corner for directions.

What geographic area does YESS serve?

Services are not restricted by geographic location. As a designated shelter for runaways, YESS services are also available to youth from all of Iowa and across the country as needed. YESS primarily serves youth and families from Polk and surrounding central Iowa counties.

Why do children and teens go to YESS?

YESS is often the first and only place where children and families can receive immediate crisis intervention and stabilization services while exploring solutions to their complex problems. Children and families connected with YESS have multiple issues at the time of admission, including but not limited to: child abuse &/or neglect, homelessness/running away, anger/aggressive behavior, non-compliance, abandonment, alcohol &/or substance abuse, mental health issues, caregiver hospitalization, and caregiver incarceration. No two stories are ever the same, but the common factor for all kids at YESS is that home does not currently represent a safe place. 

How many kids can stay at YESS each day/night?

In total, up to 56 infants, toddlers, school age children, and adolescents may stay at YESS each night. Annually, the agency sees over 700 admissions of children into the shelter and crisis nursery. In addition, YESS provides counseling to hundreds of families each year.

Do the kids at YESS go to school?

Of course! All school-age youth are required to attend school or be enrolled in an alternative education program. Youth may attend their community school or YESS' onsite education programming provided by Heartland Area Education Agency. Tutoring is available to all youth staying at the shelter.

Are the kids separated by age?

The living units at the shelter are split based on age and gender. The Blumenthal Crisis Nursery was designed specifically with the special needs of little ones in mind and cares for young children, newborn through age 8. Located on the opposite side of the facility are the emergency shelter units for youth ages 9 through 17, offering a safe, structured, and comfortable environment.

Special arrangements have been made for those families with young people in both the crisis nursery and the emergency shelter. They do reside in the separate wings at night but share a lot of time together throughout the day.

Is YESS a locked facility?

Keeping children safe is our priority. While building security features restrict visitor access to the building and/or portions of the facility, YESS is not considered a locked facility nor a detention center. Adolescents choose to stay at YESS because they know it is a safe place. However, youth are expected to have permission prior to leaving the facility and are supervised by qualified staff around-the-clock. Kids regularly leave the building with YESS staff for agency-planned recreational activities, doctor visits, appointments, or when home visits are approved with family.

How long can a child stay at YESS?

The emergency shelter and crisis nursery programs at YESS are designed to be short-term, however youth may stay at the shelter for as long as needed. The length of stay is determined by the needs of the child and family. Some youth may stay only a few days as a time out or cooling off period when things are reaching crisis mode at home, or kids may be at YESS longer when there is no other immediate safe alternative. YESS is a place where connections are made – linking youth and families to needed resources such as the Department of Human Services, Juvenile Court, substance abuse treatment, legal assistance, or health care.

Where does a child go after they leave YESS?

The goal of YESS is to keep families together. However, depending on the family and child’s situation, there are a number of options, including home, relative or kinship care, foster care, hospital, or other treatment programs for children. The Iowa Department of Human Services and Polk County Juvenile Court decide where children are placed if they have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. If a child is admitted voluntarily for respite, the child will simply return home.

Can a child come back after s/he leaves the shelter?

Yes. Some kids face multiple crises throughout their lives, and YESS is there for them along the way - whenever they need a safe place to turn.

How much does it cost for a child to stay at YESS?

Thanks to the generous support of community partners and friends, emergency shelter and crisis intervention services are provided free of charge for children and teens in need of a safe place to stay when home is not an option. In addition, counseling and mental health therapy services are offered at no-cost for families without health insurance or on a low-cost sliding-fee scale to ensure accessibility to our community's most vulnerable populations.

How is YESS funded?

YESS blends a variety of funding streams, including public support from government contracts/grants and private support from individuals, corporations, community foundations, and agency fundraisers. 

As a member agency of United Way of Central Iowa, YESS receives funds that allow youth and families voluntary access to agency programs without prior involvement with the child welfare system. Ongoing support from Variety – The Children’s Charity helps fund special projects and needs at the shelter and crisis nursery. Financial gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations help alleviate funding gaps that may otherwise jeopardize services for children and their families. Charitable donations of goods and services stretch agency program dollars while assuring children’s basic needs are met.

Does YESS work with other agencies?

YESS is committed to any collaborative efforts that strengthen services to kids and families. YESS works closely with local law enforcement, schools, human service agencies in the continuum of care, hospitals, and the overall child welfare system to create a coordinated approach in meeting individual child and family needs. Through initial assessments, care plan development, counseling, and daily program monitoring, YESS staff help kids and families access additional services as needed.