In the Employee Spotlight we aim to recognize a Youth Service, Inc. employee making an impact in the communities we serve. Nitah Dunham is a supervisor for the Family Reunification program.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I love to swim and have been scuba diving since 1994. I am active in my community and have been an elected Committee Person in the 34th Ward for a decade and a half. As a certified instructor for the American Red Cross I enjoy teaching and often spend my spare time instructing first aid/CPR and lifeguarding courses in Philadelphia and neighboring counties. I have worked in the non for profit sector for most of my adult life. Prior to my employment at Youth Services I was the director of family support programs at Methodist Services that included housing programs and foster care and adoption. I have dedicated my professional career to administering quality programs for at risk youth and families in the Philadelphia community to improve quality of living.
Q: How long have you been working at YSI and it what program(s)?
I have been working for YSI for just over three years. I started as the Supervisor of the Runaway Homeless Youth Program at YES and transitioned into the Supervisor position for the program Family Reunification.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges faced by you working in these programs?
I think the biggest challenge working in these type of programs is the notion that we can ‘fix’ people and families instead of being aware of how to assist families with recognizing and intentionally creating a resilience to stress activators by developing predictable patterns of behavior.
Q: What do you do to overcome these challenges?
Training is the key. I truly believe the way to overcome this challenge in the non for profit sector is to continue to educate one’s self on becoming trauma aware thus becoming better suited to align families with appropriate services and resources.
Q: What is one of your favorite success stories during your time at YSI?
My favorite success story for the Family Reunification program is the fact that it was expanded to accept adolescent youth in out of home placement for the first time that did not reside at the Youth Emergency Service (YES). Also, the length of the FR service may be extended beyond six months if reunification was eminent with six weeks of aftercare services if needed.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working in this program and at YSI?
There are several reasons why I enjoy working with this program and at YSI. First, I have a great team that is knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile to ensure that every avenue is explored for reunification to happen. For example the FR team utilizes many community-based agencies to connect the FR families to resources. The service connections are made for food, education support, housing, Domestic Violence and Parenting classes, behavioral health connections, and employment. The FR team attends and preps FR families for multiple court hearings, and medical appointments. Secondly, I enjoy working with YSI because there is a tireless effort among the staff to create a working system that yields positive results for youth and their families that I believe to be impressive.