Helpline Fills Void for Parents

It was big news in Nebraska back in 2008. The state's safe haven law allowed parents to drop their troubled children at hospitals, police or fire stations even if they were teenagers.

More than 30 children were let go that way. Some parents even traveled from far away states. They said the kids were too much to handle.

Then the law was eliminated. When that happened, the Nebraska Department of Health and Boys Town stepped up. Together they found a way to help parents by establishing the Nebraska Family Helpline.

Even in a perfect family, there can be turmoil and parents can reach their wits end and need help. Cheryl Steed is a single mom and she found herself in need of a helping hand.

“I have teenagers,” she said. “It’s high drama a lot. Sometimes day-after-day and unfortunately I allowed myself to get caught up in the drama."

The situation escalated and Cheryl needed some extra support. She found it on the phone by calling the Nebraska Family Helpline.

The Helpline is provided by Boys Town and has helped more than 10,000 families since opening in 2010. Pat Thomas is one of the counselors who answer the phone.

“They need help and they don't really know where to find it,” Thomas said. “And so we're a one-stop-shop. We are a source of help and support for families."

By calling 1-888-866-8660 parents can receive help on a number of issues from financial support to help with parenting techniques. Counselors can even help when the issues are just too deep to deal with over the phone by bringing in a family navigator.

A family navigator is a person who will respond to them within 24 to 48 hours, usually by phone. They'll set an appointment and they will meet them right in their home, sit down with them and talk about their issues. They can connect the families to services in their community.

Providing this service to children and families over the phone could help move a family closer to picture perfect.

The Nebraska Family Helpline is a free and operates 24/7.

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