Meet Dedra Watkins: Enthusiastic leader committed to greatness serving youth & families in Indiana

Whether it’s participating in national research studies, introducing mobile tablets to help with documentation to improve work-life balance, or adding a new team, Youth Villages is constantly adjusting and taking initiative to best meet our kids and families’ needs.

This enthusiasm is seen in all of our Indiana teams in six cities across the central and southern parts of the state. Our Indiana programs specifically provide intensive in-home treatment, which prevents at-risk children from entering foster care or institutions and helps successfully reunify children with their families if out-of-home placement has been needed.

Meet Dedra Watkins, one of the Clinical Supervisors for our Jeffersonville Program – a great example of someone who has also taken initiative and grown throughout her 5 years with Youth Villages in Indiana.

Starting as a Family Intervention Specialist providing direct therapeutic & clinical interventions after graduating with her MSW from Spalding University, Dedra explains why she wanted to start working with YV back in 2012: “….I believe in the mission of helping youth and families be successful. It takes a Village to raise a child and I love the commitment that YV has to helping families live successfully one day at a time.”

Her role as a clinician has had a deep impact on her growth professionally.

“Personally, I have grown as a clinician. I have learned to dig deeper into what is triggering or driving behaviors. I have learned how to meet families where they are and not where I or other’s feel they should be.  I have become a stronger advocate for myself, staff and the families that we serve. My confidence as a clinician and leader has increased. I am more organized and more conscious of time management and self-care.”

As she advocates for her families, she also challenges and encourages her staff in her current role as supervisor.

“The most rewarding part as Supervisor is being a positive support and role model to staff, helping them be effective clinicians and helping them be successful in providing the best quality of services to families. The most challenging part is not always knowing if you’re making the right decisions or if you’re pushing staff enough to be the best that they can be.”

This commitment to greatness is what makes Indiana  such an ideal team to be a part of!

A Kentucky native, Dedra commutes across the bridge from Louisville, KY to the Jeffersonville office – just 20 minutes away. She gets the best of both worlds: city living & the chance to also enjoy the nice parks, quaint local dining options, and the beautiful scenery that Indiana has to offer.

In her spare time, she loves cooking, shopping, traveling, and couponing, as well as spending time with family and friends, and most importantly, making time to relax!

Right now, our Indiana office is GROWING – we’re adding a new team in our Columbus, IN office!

*** Now offering $3,000 Sign-On Payment & $5,000 Relocation Reimbursement!**

Where’s Columbus, IN?

– Perfect distance for day & weekend excursions to several major cities – 45 minutes from Indianapolis and Bloomington (Go Hoosiers!), 1 hr from Louisville,  1 ½ from Cincinnati

What does Columbus, IN have to offer (outside of working with a great YV team!)

** National Geographic Traveler ranked Columbus 11th on its historic destinations list in late 2008, describing the city as “authentic, unique, and unspoiled.”[8]

**Columbus won the national contest “America in Bloom” in 2006,[9] and in 2004 it was named one of “The Ten Most Playful Towns” by Nick Jr. Family Magazine.[10]

**The July 2005 edition of GQ magazine named Columbus one of the “62 Reasons to Love Your Country”

**Known for it’s Modern Architecture & Public Art

**Over 20 miles of nature running/biking trails

Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a social service field with at least one year experience required. Apply today!

Also hiring for our Indiana offices in Madison, Bloomington, & Jasper!

Meet Tess Sikma – Taking advantage of growth opportunities in multiples states at YV

At the annual Youth Villages employee conference held in Memphis, TN, you can find Tess Sikma center stage at the highly anticipated skit night where programs across the country sing, dance, rap, and act, competing to reign as champion for the next year. She’s been part of the skits for the last 5 years, using her college cheerleading background and love of dance to her advantage. She helped the Boys’ Center team take the title home, and last year, was a part of the Tulsa team who won costume contest for their rendition of Falcor from the Neverending Story!

Tess is also a leader for our Tulsa office, currently serving as Regional Supervisor. She started her journey with Youth Villages six years ago in Memphis, TN after graduating with her MSW from the University of Illinois Chicago and BA Psychology & Spanish from University of Dayton. During her time with YV, she has completed her licensure and earned her LCSW (using the licensure supervision & reimbursement we offer!)

Knowing that Youth Villages was located in several states and that there were numerous opportunities for experience and growth was an important factor for Tess when she first chose to work with Youth Villages. And in 2016, she relocated to Tulsa, OK to continue this growth.

“I relocated to Tulsa to seek opportunities to grow within the organization.  I started as a LifeSet specialist and was promoted to Clinical Supervisor and am, now, the Regional Supervisor.  I also wanted to work in the LifeSet program as it has seen significant success and growth in the last few years.” 

Tess is deeply invested in Tulsa and the rest of the staff that work there.

“The most rewarding part of my role is to be able to see the passion that the specialists and supervisors have for the youth and families in our programs and to be a component of the growth in them and the community.  The most challenging part of my role is that Youth Villages is new to the Tulsa area and we have worked hard to establish ourselves in the community.  It is the most challenging, but it is also exciting to continue to seek out new connections and relationships in the community in order to better serve our youth and families.”

And as she builds those connections in the community, she also highlights some other exciting parts of living in the growing Tulsa area:

“Tulsa is small and most believe that it is rural, but it is not!  Tulsa has experienced significant growth and the downtown is more vibrant than ever.  There is also an expansion project along the Arkansas River that will hold parks, playgrounds, walk and bike paths, shops, and restaurants.  My husband and I love to explore downtown and the Brookside area, experience the restaurants and art galleries, and catch a Drillers’ game at ONEOK field.”

If you, like Tess, find yourself aligned with the mission and values of YV, want to work in an organization making a significant impact on the communities we serve, and are looking to start fresh with growth opportunities in a new and vibrant city, consider opportunities in Tulsa!


Meet Daina Tague: Balancing work as a crisis responder with personal self-care in the Pacific Northwest

“Nothing beats the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and Portland has to have one of the best backdrops of any major city,” boasts Daina Tague – a sentiment echoed by many who visit and call Portland home.

Daina is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the beautiful state of Oregon as well as a Columbia University & University of Oregon alum, who joined the Youth Villages family earlier this year as an Emergency Room Diversion Specialist (ERDS) in Portland. 

Many people, even current Youth Villages staff, are not familiar with our uniquely Oregon Emergency Room Diversion program. But that’s exactly what drew Daina to the work that Youth Villages does.

As an ERDS, Daina responds to crises that children and families experience in the community and hospital environment. She provides thorough, strength-based assessments and interventions, and then helps coordinate referrals in the community to make sure that there is ongoing treatment to address high risk mental health needs.

Crisis work is unique and rewarding because it is short-term, in-the-moment, and allows her to immediately see the effect of the work she is doing. But, as she notes, “Crisis work is also challenging for the same reason – most of the work is in crisis and that can take an emotional toll if I do not manage the work/life balance well.”

 And in her first post-master’s degree job, finding that balance can be a challenge, but Daina notes that she has gained a lot of confidence in herself and in her work. And it probably helps that she has some fun strategies for self-care, from Zumba, coloring, and wine & cheese nights with friends, to concerts like Black Violin. Also an avid reader, she’s currently tackling “A Fight for the Soul of Public Education.”


By Kris from Seattle, USA – Flickr, CC BY 2.O, Wikimedia Commons

Along with the uniqueness of the ER Diversion program, another aspect of YV caught her eye during her job search– the commitment to staff as one of the key values of our organization. As she grows in her experience as a professional social worker, she has found this commitment to staff in the support she receives from her colleagues and supervisors, who “have been nothing but amazing and an absolute joy to work with.”


 We have several opportunities across the great state of Oregon for YOU to join our team, including:

  • Portland – Emergency Room Diversion Specialist (MA required)
  • Salem – Family Intervention Specialist
  • Oregon City – Independent Living Skills Specialist (Oregon City, BA Required)
  •  Bend – Emergency Room Diversion Specialist (MA Required)



Meet Ashton Hurley: Journey from new MSW grad to Clinical Supervisor

It’s peak career fair season across the country, and your Youth Villages recruiters have been busy spreading the word about our programs and opportunities! We’ve enjoyed meeting so many students, alumni, and upcoming grads!

Ashton Hurley, one of our Intercept Clinical Supervisors, is a perfect example of someone who joined YV as a recent MSW grad, and has taken advantage of opportunities to grow while impacting children and families in Boone, North Carolina.

While Ashton originally came to Boone for school, she fell in love with the mountains and the town. She completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work from Appalachian State University, and decided to stay after graduate school so that she could both keep serving the population there and enjoy the beautiful mountains!

She was drawn to the opportunity with Youth Villages as a way to gain experience right out of grad school, and appreciated Intercept’s approach to working with the family unit as a whole – not just the referred youth.

“I have grown so much in my clinical skills through licensure supervision, group supervision, TF-CBT training, and the many boosters and trainings YV offers,” Ashton explains. Ashton was able to move into a Clinical Supervisor role after gaining some initial experience, and now is pursuing clinical licensure by taking advantage of Youth Villages’ reimbursement for licensure supervision.

She’s navigated a lot of different experiences through her time at YV, and considers being able to build relationships with the families and being welcomed into their homes as the most rewarding aspect of her work. She also collaborates with several key players – challenging work, but as she says, “when everyone is working together and on the same page it all pays off!”

Outside of work, Ashton (and her dog, Olaf!) enjoys tubing on the river, skiing, and enjoying the local restaurants and breweries in the beautiful Boone area.

If you’re an upcoming grad and looking for opportunities to gain experience, support, and additional professional development like Ashton, YV can be a great place for you.

Check out our opportunities & relocation incentives across the country at!



Life Coaching: Growth & Support at Youth Villages – Meet Charity Jones!

One of the most common themes heard when talking with professionals, job seekers, and recent grads, is that that they are looking to be a part of an organization or company where they can grow.

And Youth Villages offers lots of different opportunities to grow – from tuition reimbursement and licensure supervision to promotion from within and health & wellness programs, and now: Life Coaching.

Meet Charity Jones, a staff recruiter for Youth Villages based out of the Jackson, Mississippi office. While on a daily basis she supports all of our Mississippi MYPAC programs by finding quality candidates to fill hiring needs and promoting Youth Villages across the state, Charity most recently has taken on an additional role as Life Coach.

The Leadership Development team at Youth Villages is another example of our commitment to helping employees grow. They provide a variety of leadership trainings for residential, community-based, and operations staff, including workshops around communication styles, project leadership, handling conflict, and time management. And they recently also piloted a program training YV leaders to become life coaches for other YV staff.

After going through training, Charity was matched with another YV staff in Memphis who wanted to benefit from a life coach. They meet once a week (by phone or video call) for an hour and will continue to meet for 10 weeks. They create a coaching plan based on the staff’s specific goals. These sessions can cover anything personal or professional such as how to achieve a better work/life balance, how to handle situations at work, relationships, or aspirations for the future, for example. The sessions are confidential and are not performance based, so the coachee can openly share and receive non-judgmental support from YV life coach who “gets” it.

Charity said she has really enjoyed this new role– partly for the new challenge and as a way for her to be a part of the larger Youth Villages community apart from her Mississippi team. Along with a Bachelors’ in Business Administration from Sterling College and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Belhaven University, Charity has also completed several internships with non-profits over the years, which has given her a strong focus and experience with leadership and development. And as she continues to grow and gain new skills, she’s able to help make Youth Villages stronger.

Looking to work in a place committed to your growth?

Check out all of our openings at

Meet Amber Ware! Family Intervention Specialist & Sports Enthusiast in NC

It’s March Madness season, and for this week’s Employer Spotlight, we thought it was appropriate that we are highlighting Amber Ware — Family Intervention Specialist in Pinehurst, NC, sports enthusiast, and athlete! Amber completed her first half marathon in 2014 and her first marathon shortly after starting at Youth Villages early last year. Her love of sports is serious (as you can tell by her pets, Hoosier the cat & Scout the Dog). The Indiana native says she loves just about every sport (NBA, MLB, NFL, CFB, PGA, Indy Car) – especially football. As she warns – “As someone who was born and raised in Indiana, you will never be able to convince me that Tom Brady comes anywhere close to Peyton Manning in the GOAT discussions, so don’t even try!”


Amber moved to North Carolina about 2 years ago with her husband who is in the Armed Forces. “We LOVE Pinehurst!” she says. “I enjoy the quietness of the area, the proximity to great restaurants and adorable shops, and most importantly, the awesome Harris Teeter (no joke, it’s huge!)”


As she’s grown to love North Carolina, she also wanted to love where she worked – particularly at a place that aligned with her belief in providing mental health care using a systems based approach, which led her to Youth Villages.

Amber is able to use her educational background and previous experience to provide the best level of care to our kids and families in our Intercept program. She originally graduated from Indiana University – Bloomington back in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and then with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology in 2014 from Saint Martin’s University. Through her work as a child & adolescent outpatient therapist, internship at a foster care agency, and research experience with a child development team, she is able to take a well-rounded approach in now providing intensive mental health treatment for families with youth who are at-risk for out of home placement or for youth who are transitioning back into the home.

It’s been challenging – and intense – to work with kids and families who experience crisis and trauma, as Amber explains.

“My job has its many ups and downs, but I would say the most rewarding part of my role is when my families quit needing me! I find it very satisfying to work with parents and kids to the point that they are able to build their skills and do it all on their own! The most challenging part of my job is being intensely involved in cases when severe trauma occurs. In the year I have been working, I’ve had a client who was sexually assaulted while in treatment, as well as a client who gave birth and their child passed shortly after birth. I find it very humbling to know I don’t always have the answers, but that does not make it any easier!”

During her time with Youth Villages, she’s had the chance to utilize evidence based practices, meet diverse families, and work with a great team. She recognizes that through this, she’s “become a better counselor with better instincts and a better understanding about what drives behaviors and how to address those behaviors clinically.” She also had the chance to be challenged: “I also had the opportunity to take over as Supervisor when my Supervisor was out on maternity leave, and that role helped me to learn so much about myself! I am so thankful I had that opportunity, but I am also glad to not have to worry about Scorecard every month 🙂 “ (a sentiment that other supervisors can understand!)

Amber Ware

Amber (right) and YV friend Kim Taxiera in Memphis, TN for the YV Annual Employee Conference in 2016

Even from the start in her interview with Youth Villages, Amber saw that “the employees were extremely passionate about the work that they do.”


If you’re looking to help children and families live successfully and want to join our passionate North Carolina team, check out our openings in Fayetteville, NC!








Erin Cooke: Clinical Supervisor in NC

Erin Cooke relocated to Waynesville, North Carolina in 2013 to join the Youth Villages family because she loved the mountains of western NC and she saw it as a service need area. Just a quick drive to Asheville (without the higher cost of living!), she’s grown to love the area she lives and works – “I have been living in small mountain towns since college and really love that kind of quaint setting!”

Erin graduated from Appalachian State University with her Bachelor’s in Psychology and gained some valuable experience working in a residential facility for juveniles with sexualized behaviors which helped her earn her QP (Qualified Professional) designation, required in the state of North Carolina.

In her initial role as a family counselor, she saw firsthand the impact she could have in helping prevent kids from entering facilities, and also experienced the challenges of being a support staff for youth and families in crisis.

When asked about her growth in her time with Youth Villages, Erin reflects: “I have seen myself grow in becoming more confident in myself and my skill. I have had such strong support and development from leadership and really learned to find the leader in myself!” And in 2016, Erin was promoted to clinical supervisor, where she now leads an amazing Intercept team in Waynesville.

In addition to loving the team she works with and the families she serves, Erin also enjoys spending outside with her friends and her dog and exploring her town, commenting that “Waynesville really has some neat things, like good restaurants, breweries, and really fun street fairs and events always happening downtown!”

We’re happy to have committed, enthusiastic, and curious staff like Erin on team (who, by the way, even knows how to tap dance!)

If you’re interested in moving to or working in one of our quaint mountain towns in North Carolina, we’re currently hiring in a few locations, including Waynesville, Asheville, and Boone.

**Relocation Assistance up to $4,000 & sign-on payments up to $1500 are available**(Incentives vary by location, please visit for specific information and to apply).

Candidates must meet the following QP standards:

Master’s Degree Applicants:

  • Must possess degree at time of application
  • Degree must be in a related field of study (refer to list below)
  • Must have one year, post-graduation, full-time experience (2,000 hours) with designated population (refer to list below)

Bachelor’s Degree Applicants:

  • Must possess degree at time of application
  • Degree must be in a related field of study (refer to list below)
  • Must have two years, post-graduation, full-time experience (4,000 hours) with designated population (refer to list below)

Licensed Applicants:

  • Must hold one of the following licenses in the state of North Carolina: LPCA, LMFTA, LCSWA, LPA, or LCSASA

Degrees Accepted:

  • Social Work
  • Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Marriage and Family Therapy

*Exceptions may be made for other degrees in a behavioral science that includes a minimum of 30 semester hours in human development, human behavior, child development, family intervention technique, diagnostic measures, or therapeutic techniques.

Experience Accepted:

  • Experience must be with at-risk youth, i.e., youth with one or more of the following behaviors: Truancy, Alcohol/Substance Abuse, Homicidal/Suicidal Ideations, Problem Sexual Behavior, Verbal/Physical Aggression, Runaway, Antisocial Behaviors
  • Experience should include clinical case management or practice of therapeutic interventions
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