Four Oaks - For Kids Community, and You
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History

The mighty oak tree is a fitting symbol for Four Oaks. The branches on the logo represent kids, family, community and you, all of which are necessary to raise children to become successful adults. A closer look at the Four Oaks tree reveals a significant root structure.

At Four Oaks, we are proud of our history and the roots from which this agency grew:

November 1973 – Ed Daley bought a brick house in rural Bertram, Iowa, to fulfill his dream of opening a home for boys. The house became “Boys Acres” and provided a home-like setting for ten young boys between the ages of ten and 15 who had no other place to go. The boys were referred to Boys Acres by the Juvenile Court and the Department of Human Services. The boys attended school in Cedar Rapids and were involved in extra-curricular activities.

1979 – As the new Executive Director, Jim Ernst brought strong leadership and an expanded vision to the organization. The group home program was redesigned to become a residential treatment program for pre-adolescents and was the first of its kind in Eastern Iowa. Other services followed that assisted Boys Acres residents to transition back to home or into foster homes.

1984 – The agency changed its name to Four Oaks and used the oak tree to represent the family, the community and the agency standing together with the child to build a future strong as the mighty oak. Involving the family in the treatment of the child continues to serve as the hallmark of the Four Oaks philosophy.

1980s - Beginning in the early 1980’s, the agency continued to improve its quality of service to children and families by expanding the types of programs and treatment options available. While maintaining the residential treatment structure, expanded options included the supervised community treatment programs, which offer structured daytime environments for troubled children while they continue to live at home.

1990s - Four Oaks continued to improve its service by expanding the service delivery area as well as the programming it offers to children and families. The agency continued to focus on quality improvement, efficient delivery of services, employee retention, staff training and effective use of technology. The Four Oaks community sites exist to serve families locally, even when children are temporarily away from home in residential treatment or foster care.

2000s - As Four Oaks entered the new millennium, it began providing much needed prevention services that help kids and families overcome obstacles and avoid the need for intervention and/or residential treatment services. Four Oaks was able to provide a broad continuum of care ranging from prevention to intervention to residential treatment. In 2005, a new vision was developed by Jim Ernst that has become the driving force of the agency. The Four Oaks “Expect Success” vision is an innovative approach to children in order to assure their success in childhood and adult life. Children are most successful in a stable, healthy family environment with access to basic resources such as food and clothing. Families are successful when they live in communities that have economic opportunities, social networks, and services such as affordable housing, employment opportunities, education, child care, and health care.

2010 – Four Oaks is poised to take the next step in providing innovative and successful treatment options for kids and their families. As the agency adopts its “Holistic Works” model, it will be one of the first organizations in the country to approach service delivery to the whole child. This paradigm shift will evaluate every aspect of the child’s life, including the family, and go beyond treating the issue for which the child was initially referred to Four Oaks.

Currently, many of Four Oaks’ programs are accomplished through partnerships with other local service agencies and schools. Family support, preservation and education programs allow families to deal with the issues that prevent them from functioning successfully.

CEO Jim Ernst: “Supporting the development of a healthy home environment helps the child more successfully deal with the challenges he or she faces. Giving family members the knowledge and support they need to assist in the child’s treatment allows the family unit to become stronger.”
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