DuBOIS — Pentz Run Youth Services in DuBois is often called the “orphanage” or “the children’s home” by people in the community.
“We’re not an orphanage, per se. We’re a group home/shelter,” said Executive Director Deb Gregori. “But our kids, some of them have nowhere else to go. They all have some level of behavioral or emotional issues or they wouldn’t be here.”
Teenage girls and boys are not what foster parents are looking for, Care Coordinator Kathy Renne said. If they’re not already in a foster home once they hit their teens, there often is nowhere else for them to go.
The court-appointed kids staying at the shelter are between the ages of 10-18 and most are local, mainly from Clearfield and Jefferson counties, Gregori said.
Up to 18 children can stay at the home at any given time, with 14 there currently.
The time a child stays varies and is indefinite.
“We have two now who have been here over a year,” Gregori said. “That happens a lot. And that’s when there’s no family at all that they can go back to.”
While living at Pentz Run, the kids become involved with family therapy.
“The kids that come here, it isn’t just their behavior, it’s their parents unable to parent them or don’t want to,” Renne said.
“Or, their parents are in jail, on drugs, or dead,” Gregori said.
Renne said Pentz Run takes care of all the child’s needs — their physical, vision, dental, hearing, braces, surgeries.
“We are a prudent parent, which is what we do. Besides being a very structured environment, our structured environment is also nurturing at the same time, and they coincide with each other,” Renne said. “These kids have never been structured because nobody really parented them.”
Some of the young people at the facility are there because of behavioral issues.
“It’s everything. I can’t think of a situation, in the kids that we have now, that they don’t fall under different categories,” Renne said.
Primary case managers, like Shelby Volosky, work with the children in their living area day and night.
“We’re constantly helping them with their independent living skills,” Volosky said. “We’re teaching them how to cook, how to clean, how to make their beds, just daily activities that you would do if you were living in a normal home.”
“We’re there as main supports for them, also,” Volosky said. “Sometimes they come home from school and they’ve had a really bad day, so any primary or any staff that’s on meets with them and talks with them about their day. We check in with them daily and see how things are going. The primaries meet with them weekly to work on goals. They set goals for the week about maintaining positive behaviors and raising their grades.”
Pentz Run, to many of the children who live there, is “home,” Volosky said.