Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 1, 2009

CONTACT
Jeanne Atkinson, Communications & Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287, or jeanne.atkinson@nebraska.gov

 

DHHS Counselor Earns National Recognition

Lincoln - Cortney Lichti, a Youth Counselor at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center at Geneva (YRTC-G) received national recognition from the American Correctional Association (ACA). Each year, the ACA recognizes state and federal correctional facilities (both adult and juvenile) in both the U.S. and Canada for “Best in the Business” contributions in the field.

Lichti was recognized for her work with the “Mothers and Babies Program” she developed at the YRTC-G three years ago. Because many of the youth at the facility have children or are pregnant, “Mothers and Babies” offers educational and hands-on experiences they need to practice good parenting.
This includes such topics as caring for a new baby, caring for a sick child, providing good nutrition, recognizing and preventing physical and emotional abuse, and using positive discipline rather than punishment.

“This program developed at an accelerated rate because of Cortney’s abiding commitment to the youth and their children,” says YRTC-G administrator Dan Scarborough. “Not only is a program like this rare in comparable facilities across the country, but to get it operating at the level it does in so short a time is truly remarkable.”

“Our gender-responsive program includes all areas of a female’s life, including their role as a mother,” says Lichti. “It’s not uncommon for a girl here to not have a father or a mother in her own life, and negative things learned in childhood can be repeated unless someone shows them a better way.”

Recently YRTC-G had 75 girls on campus, and 12% of them were in the Mothers and Babies program. Participation is optional, but every pregnant or teen mother at the facility has joined.

“The best part of my job is when I see a young mother who didn’t hug or kiss her baby during initial visits progress to someone who won’t put them down,” says Lichti. “When they use what they learn here to make positive changes in their lives after they return to the community, that’s even better.”

To accomplish this goal, Lichti brings presenters from the community on such topics as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and takes pregnant YRTC-G girls to Lamaze classes at a local hospital. After girls are paroled to their communities, she also puts them in touch with community supports that will help them succeed, such as obtaining a mentor or enrolling in parenting groups.

Lichti recently heard from the first YRTC-G girl to enroll in the Mothers and Babies program, who is married now and will soon graduate from college.

“Both Cortney and the Mothers and Babies program are worthy of national recognition,” says Scarborough. “She truly is one of the best in the business.”

A profile highlighting Cortney Lichti and other “Best in the Business” honorees will be published in the June issue of the ACA magazine, Corrections Today.

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