What happens when a hurting teen or a struggling parent calls the Idaho Youth Ranch for help? They need relief, hope, and answers. IYR’s amazing Sara Nord fills the critical role of first responder to kids and families in crisis. She helps sort out what the core issues are and helps determine which IYR program or combination of services best meets each family’s unique needs and circumstances.
Sara’s title is Intake and Referral Coordinator. As a licensed professional, with a master’s degree and plenty of street experience, Sara knows that finding answers means asking the right questions. No two families or kids are identical. A teenage girl who fights with her teachers will need a different approach than a boy dangerously deep into drugs or alcohol.
“Sending a child to residential treatment is a very serious decision,” Sara said, “So it’s important to make sure it’s really necessary. It’s all about what’s best for your child, not about trying to fit your kid into one of our programs.”
Finding the right fit might mean a combination of programs such as Anchor House, then the Ranch Campus, and Family Counseling. Sometimes, Family Counseling works so well that out-of-home placement isn’t needed. And if IYR services are not the best fit for the situation, Sara works with families to find other solutions.
“It’s important to me to let families know that we’re not only going to talk about IYR’s resources, I’m also going to let them know about other resources and therapy options that are out there that they may not have tried or known about,” Sara said. “Education is a huge part of my role. I help people learn how to navigate the complicated world of social services, children’s mental health, and the juvenile justice system. I empower them to be their own best advocate and know what their rights are and what questions to ask, what to expect.”
Sara has been an Idahoan since she was five years old. After earning her undergraduate degree at Boise State University, she got her Masters in Social Work from the University of Colorado. Sara served in the Peace Corp in the Philippines, working with street kids and orphans, and also worked with the refugee community in Denver.
Sara came back to Idaho in September 2013 to take her current position with IYR. She’s already making such a difference in the lives of underserved kids and families that we don’t know how we ever got along without her.