1995Denali Family Services (DFS) was incorporated in May as Alternatives Child and Family Guidance Clinic. At that time, the agency operated as an outpatient psychological and psychiatric provider with a child protection visitation program.
In December, Denali Family Services was accepted as an Alaska Youth Initiative (AYI) provider. As an AYI provider, DFS was allowed to serve the most acute children with mental illness residing outside of psychiatric residential settings.
1996The agency started providing wrap-around services for the “severely emotionally disturbed.” In 1996, the agency had approximately 15 employees.
1997DFS became a child placement agency with the ability to recruit, license, train, and supervise foster homes and place children in those homes.
2002In July, Alternatives changed its name to Denali Family Services to better communicate to the community the focus of its services. Through a collaborative relationship with Lifequest (now MatSu Behavioral Health), Alternatives has expanded its therapeutic foster care program to include the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
In January, DFS became the first behavioral health agency in Alaska to be accredited by the Council on Accreditation.
2003Denali Family Services became one of the key agencies in the Reclaiming Futures project, one of ten pilot projects in the nation focused on reclaiming the futures of adjudicated youth, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and evaluated by the Urban Institute. Anchorage Reclaiming Futures created new approaches to helping teens who use drugs or alcohol or have become involved in the Juvenile Justice system. Guided by the image of the Inupiaq Eskimo tradition of the blanket toss, service professionals, families of troubled youth, faith communities, tribal members, volunteer mentors and other concerned citizens came together to help teens overcome drugs, alcohol and crime.
2004DFS signed a collaborative agreement with Camp Fire USA Council to provide a specialized annual summer camp for children assessed as severely emotionally disturbed who would not otherwise be able to attend a summer camp. Camp Kushtaka offers the very best of summertime in Alaska. Canoeing, kayaking, overnight hikes, archery, outdoor skills, music & drama, creative arts, and horseback riding are just some of the activities at camp. Programming is facilitated by a combination of Camp Fire and DFS therapeutic staff to ensure each child’s success. The camp continues and has become an annual event for DFS’ clients.
DFS joined forces with the State and other non-profit agencies to bring children who were in residential facilities in the Lower 48. The Anchorage Behavioral Health Interagency Work Group, "Bring the Kids Home” has brought forty-eight children back to Alaska in this first year of its efforts!
2005In February, Little Steps Preschool implemented the evidence based Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur small group treatment curriculum. This curriculum, recognized by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) as a model program, focuses on promoting the development of social and emotional competence and preventing, reducing and treating aggressive, defiant, oppositional and impulsive behaviors in young children.
Denali Family Services implemented its first Management Information System (MIS) on June 14th. The vendor selected for this project was Harmony IS. Harmony is a Web-based information management framework designed for human services organizations that provide or manage a wide array of programs and services. Part of this project was generously funded by Rasmuson Foundation.
2007Little Steps Preschool moved to a new location that allowed for expansion of services. The new facility was licensed for 60 children.
DFS opened an office in the Mat-Su Valley (in Palmer). By adding services in the Valley, foster parents did not have to drive into Anchorage for training or to bring the children in for services.
2008DFS developed a program for children and teens that have experienced sexual trauma as well as have sexual boundary problems. These services included a focus on boundaries, psycho-education on appropriate expressions of affection and sexuality based on the developmental level of the child, as well as social skill learning, to replace inappropriate social skills and meet areas the child may have missed socially.
DFS brought its training function in-house and created a Training Department. This change improved the timeliness and quality of training offered to staff and foster parents.
2009DFS moved the Valley office from Palmer to new space in Wasilla, doubling space and allowing for expansion.
DFS’s Training Department began to offer training to agencies outside of DFS. As the only trainer certified to provide training on Mental Health First Aid, the training director developed a workshop for other agencies and received funding from the Mental Health Authority to defray the cost.
2010DFS celebrated 15 years serving Alaska’s Children.
Denali Family Services was awarded the Transition to Independence Initiative Grant. Using the nationally recognized TIP model, DFS will be providing independent living skills and assistance to young adults between the ages of 19 – 26 years of age.
DFS’ Little Steps Preschool was awarded the Pyramid Partnership Demonstration Site grant. As a demonstration site for the Pyramid model, Little Steps will have the opportunity to share our success with the rest of the nation’s preschool programs.
DFS grew to 135 employees at four separate locations.
This year marked the second re-accreditation process through COA (Council on Accreditation).