About Heartland Family Service


Heartland Family Service, founded in Omaha in 1875, is a non-profit, non-sectarian social work agency. We help parents who struggle; couples who want to save their relationship; children who are removed from unsafe homes; teens who made the wrong decisions about alcohol, drugs or crime; survivors of family violence; low-income families–mostly women and children–who fall into homelessness; and many, many more who need a helping hand to get back on track. Annually we serve 35,000 to 40,000 people in twelve counties.

The mission of Heartland Family Service is to strengthen individuals and families in our community through education, counseling and support.

Click to view the Heartland Family Service Vision for the Future 2030 brochure.


A Note from our President

John H. Jeanetta President and CEO

Welcome Friends,

I am incredibly excited that this marks my fifth year at Heartland Family Service and the completion of our first four-year strategic plan.

Like with any business or non-profit, the opportunities and challenges we’ve faced—and will continue to face—are numerous, rapidly evolving and difficult to predict. However, we are fortunate to have strong administrative systems as well as talented, passionate and generous employees, volunteers and donors. Their combined contributions have helped us create a multi-service organization that is truly making an impact in our community

To wit, our operating budget has grown 38 percent over the past five years and we have continually refined and streamlined our efforts to achieve even greater outcomes. Programs that were no longer relevant have been closed, while new programs that address unmet or newly emerging community needs have been established

It has always been our organization’s mission to strengthen the individuals and families of our community, but it is our community that strengthens our organization. As we move forward, please know how much we value your support and how important you are to our success.

Thank you!

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John Jeanetta, MBA, MSW
President and CEO

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Read the 2013 President’s Update

HFS Culture

At Heartland Family Service, we are committed to building a culture that values and celebrates diversity and inclusion in addition to creating a trauma-informed environment. We believe this practice will allow us to recruit and retain employees that bring various experiences to our workplace and to the clients and communities we serve.

In an effort to carry out these commitments, our President and CEO John Jeanetta has woven diversity and inclusion into the strategic planning and operations of Heartland Family Service.

“Valuing diversity, in all of its forms and complexities, is a fundamental component of our ability to help the people we serve and strengthen our community.  Understanding many of our clients have experienced some level of trauma, first as children and then again as adults, Heartland Family Service can only be successful if we fully integrate a trauma-informed culture into our daily work.  This means our clients and our staff must first and foremost feel safe.  They must trust us.  And we must work hard to gain their trust.  As agents of change, we must also carefully lift up and empower one another to achieve our goals.  And in order to do any of this important work, we must first see and cherish all that is unique and special about each person who works at this agency and who comes here for lifesaving help.”

 -John Jeanetta

To aid in the education of different cultures, practices, and lifestyles, all Heartland Family Service staff are required to have a minimum of three diversity and inclusion training hours annually.

Diversity Council

The Heartland Family Service Diversity Council is committed to ensuring our agency is welcoming and safe for all staff members and clients by developing and reinforcing our capacity to understand, value, and reflect differences in all forms.

The Diversity Council promotes the growth and development of the mission and strategic plan objectives through mutual respect and fair treatment of each agency employee as well as providing training to educate and uplift differences.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Creating a collaborative and comfortable work environment that educates and respects all differences  is a key component in creating a diverse and inclusive culture at Heartland Family Service. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) bring together employees from different walks of life to connect on various levels professionally and personally.

Each of our ERGs receives support through sponsorship from a senior-level employee to help guide and develop the vision and actions of that group.

Upcoming ERGs:

  • Minority Impact Forum
  • Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT)
  • Questioning/Queer, Intersex and Allies
  • Parent groups

Awards We’ve Earned

2014 – Best of Omaha winner in the Family Behavior Therapy category by Omaha magazine.

2013 - The Heartland Family Service Friends Guild “Carnival of Love” Gala was named the Best Event Over 500 by readers of metroMagazine.

Heartland Family Service was a “Best of Omaha” winner in the Family Behavior Therapy category in Omaha Magazine’s annual awards.

2012:  The Kiwanis Club of Omaha honored Heartland Family Service as its 2012 Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

2011: The Better Business Bureau, Inc. serving Nebraska, South Dakota and Southwest Iowa, honored Heartland Family Service with its 2011 Integrity Award, in the Charity Category. Integrity awards focus on demonstrated ethical business practices with key stakeholders, rather than a company’s growth, profitability or popularity.

Agency employees voted Heartland Family Service as one of Omaha’s “Best Places to Work.” The agency placed third in the category of large companies with more than 200 employees. The competition is sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and Baird Holm LLP.

2010: The Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones (HALO) program, developed by the Heartland Family Service staff in 1991, was accepted by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) as worthy of national recognition and distribution. The program and its research is included on the NREPP page of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHSA) website. Learn more at www.HALOforkids.org.

The Partners for Meth Prevention (PMP), a metro-wide coalition to prevent methamphetamine abuse, honored Heartland Family Service with a Community Star Award on Tuesday, September 28 at the Heartland Family Service Sarpy Office in Papillion. The mission of PMP is to unite and empower communities to take action against meth and all substances of abuse. The purpose of the Star Awards is to recognize the good work that individuals, agencies and communities are doing to prevent and help people who are affected by substance abuse. Currently, thirty-eight organizations in the metro area are partners of the Partners for Meth Prevention coalition.

Agency employees voted Heartland Family Service as one of Omaha’s “Best Places to Work.” The agency placed third in the category of large companies with more than 200 employees. The competition is sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and Baird Holm LLP.

2009 - Heartland Family Service earned an “Honorable Mention” Integrity Award through the Better Business Bureau for its commitment to ethical practices and procedures.

The Iowa Addictions Team was recognized with a 2009 Science and Service award by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “as a model of evidence-based practice implementation, steeped in a formalized process of quality improvement.” Only seven programs nationwide were honored with this award.

2008 - Heartland Family Service was voted “Best Counseling Clinic” by readers of “The Reader” newspaper’s “Best of the Big O” survey.

2005 - The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce named Heartland Family Service as the first-ever “Not-For-Profit Organization of the Year” through the Omaha 25 Excellence in Business Awards.

2003 - The Alliance for Children and Families presented its Robert Rice Innovative Program Award to our Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones (HALO) program, a developmentally appropriate drug and alcohol prevention program for preschoolers.

1998 - The Nebraska Association of Family-Based Services honored our agency as “Family-Based Agency of the Year.”

1995 - The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben presented the Ike Friedman Community Leadership Award to our agency for making a difference through inspirational leadership and community involvement.

1992 - The Nebraska Department of Labor presented an award for exemplary efforts in work and family advocacy; specifically for the Corporate Breakfast on Work and Family, a collaborative effort with First Data Resources and the College of St. Mary.

1991 - The Domestic Abuse Program received Honorable Mention from the Family Service H. Barksdale Brown Volunteerism Award. The award is made to member agencies “… whose exemplary initiatives in volunteer involvement and community participation demonstrably increase its effectiveness and stature as a voluntary family service agency.”

1989 - The Family Service Communication Department received a Biennial Communications Award from Family Service America for the “Raising Good Kids in Bad Times” public service campaign, conducted through local CBS television station KM3TV.

1979 - Family Service was recipient of a special citation of the nationally competitive Margaret E. Rich Award for exemplary activity in family advocacy. The award was presented at the Family Service Association of America (FSAA) Biennial Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

1947 - Received awards from the National Association of Organizing Charities (now Family Service America) for two consecutive years for excellence in casework service.

A History of HFS

1875 - The agency was founded by volunteers from a group of churches to provide visitation to the sick and poor, relief to the destitute, and to conduct nonsectarian meetings in impoverished areas.

1900 - The focus shifted from pure relief efforts to include training in self-sufficiency – teaching job skills to women and adolescents and then employing them in our Industrial Department.

1941 - Family Service and the University of Nebraska developed the UNO graduate school of social work. The original master degree internship program continues today. ● Our collaborative efforts helped organize the local Visiting Nurse Association, Legal Aid, the Visiting Homemaker Program and the Travelers Aide Bureau.

1945 - The agency accepted the administration of the Junior League’s Day Care Center and began a half-century of providing child care to working families.

1970 - Neighborhood Services initiated the Multi-Service Centers, an exciting new concept in neighborhood service delivery to assist the residents of low-income area.

1975 - Family Service of Omaha merged with Family Service of Council Bluffs.

1979 - Neighborhood Services started a domestic abuse program in response to a growing threat of family violence.

1981 - As prevention proved more effective than intervention, new Family Life Education programs emerged to help the children of divorce, of chemical dependency and of child neglect and abuse.

1987 - The growth of local gang violence prompted a study of the scope of the problem, resulting in parenting classes offered through our North Omaha office.

1989 - The YouthNet Family Counseling Program was developed to respond to increasing youth violence.

1991 - “Project HALO” (Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones), a preschool drug prevention program for preschoolers, was developed by Addiction Services and converted into a curriculum by our child care staff. HALO was tested and launched at 35 local Head Start Child Care Centers through a cooperative venture with the Northwest Omaha Kiwanis Club. To learn more about the HALO program call (877) 553-3001 or email the HALO Program Director.

1994 - The Safe Haven concealed shelter opened, offering transitional shelter, support and education for victims of domestic abuse. ● At the request of the juvenile justice system, our Community Based Evaluation program was developed to help judges conduct a more effective assessment of youth offenders.

1996 - The Tracker program was added to provide young adult mentors to guide a troubled youth and supervise his or her compliance with a parole or probation agreements.

1997 - The Care Connection program contracted to provide child care referral services to more than 11,000 employees of the companies of the Greater Omaha Dependent Care Association (GODCA).

1998 - The Steve & Cheryl Wild Children’s Emergency Shelter was opened for Douglas County children birth to age 18 who are victims of parental abuse or neglect.

1999 - The Homeless Link Program started in Council Bluffs, to provide case management and housing to homeless or near-homeless people in Pottawattamie County. ● Residents of Fremont requested that Family Service administer the Jefferson House Children’s Emergency Shelter for Dodge County children birth to age 18 who are victims of parental abuse or neglect.

2000 - Family Service celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1875 as the first locally-funded human service agency in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area. ● The Transitions transitional living apartments were opened to offer homes and wrap-around services to homeless people, to help them move to being homeowners.

2001 - A new “Family Legacy Society” was created to endow the agency to prepare for the future needs of children and families. ● Family Service was honored by the Omaha Public Schools with its 2001 “Family Friendly Award” for our Families And Schools Together (FAST) Program, our YouthNet Family Counseling and our 125th anniversary parent education campaign of ‘tips brochures’ for school parents.

2002 - The Council Bluffs Office moved into a donated building named the Family Service H. Lee Gendler Center, administering all the agency programs in Southwest Iowa, including a second Youth Substance Abuse program for 13-19 year olds. ● The Salute to Families program was replicated in Southwest Iowa. The North Office was fully renovated and added mental health and substance abuse services.

2003 - Our Therapeutic School opened in Council Bluffs, serving students with emotional or psychological disabilities who cannot remain in a regular school. ● Our HALO program — Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones — earned the national Robert Rice Innovative Program Award from the Alliance for Children and Families. ● The Families And Schools Together program and School and Family Enrichment program both expanded services in schools, providing family-strengthening activities and mental health services to elementary and middle school students and their families.

2004 - The agency name was formally changed to “Heartland Family Service” to more effectively differentiate our organization from similarly-named human service programs and agencies in the metro area, and to incorporate the broad geographic area we serve. ● Our agency partnered with Marian High School and the Lozier Foundation so that girls in our Ruth K. Solomon Girls Center summer program could utilize the space and volunteers offered by Marian High School. ● The Youth Substance Abuse Treatment Program was expanded to a third location at our West Office.

2005 - The Harlan Therapeutic School opened in August and increased our capacity to serve K-12 grade children in Southwest Iowa with serious academic, emotional, behavioral and cognitive disorders. ● The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce named Heartland Family Service as the first-ever Not-For-Profit Organization of the Year at its Omaha 25 Excellence in Business Awards Luncheon on May 17, 2005. This annual luncheon is Omaha’s premier event for honoring business excellence and contributions to the positive growth of our business community.

2006 - The Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) was established in Council Bluffs to provide comprehensive, community-based treatment to persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses. ● The Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones (HALO) program was expanded to serve child care providers in Southwest Iowa, including those who care for children of bilingual families. ● The Moms Off Meth (MOMs) Support Group was established in Omaha in addition to the Council Bluffs location. ● The Kid Squad Program was established through a local collaboration among several human service agencies to provide consultation, training and support to child care providers who have preschool-age kids with behavior problems. ● As part of our Best Practices research, we adopted the Matrix Model of outpatient treatment for our Addictions Programs. ● Through our Connecting Families to Better Futures Capital Campaign, we successfully raised funds to replace the HVAC system at our Central Office. ● A collaboration was formed with four other Council Bluffs human service agencies to raise funds and establish a human service campus in Council Bluffs.

2007 - As part of our ongoing best practices research, we implemented the Sanctuary model of organizational culture. ● Family Works was implemented—a residential treatment center for women with infants, to ensure that babies are born drug free and to help mothers in treatment maintain the natural bond with their infants. ● We expanded our capacity to serve Spanish-speaking clients with bilingual staff, we translated our HALO curriculum into Spanish, and our Child and Adult Food Program enrolled Hispanic child care providers in Southwest Iowa.

2008 - The $34 million Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs was dedicated, co-locating five human service agencies—the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, Heartland Family Service, MICAH House and The Salvation Army. ● Youth Links, a collaboration between Heartland Family Service and Boys Town, was established as a youth triage center, and a Victim Empathy program was added to our Juvenile Services. ● Homeless Services were expanded with the addition of Heartland Homes in Council Bluffs and Heartland Housing Solutions in Omaha. ● The new “Ready in Five” school readiness program, funded by United Way of the Midlands, is a community-wide approach to assisting parents and caregivers in the international community in preparing their children for kindergarten. ● The Assessment, Support And Prevention (ASAP) program, provided in response to calls from law enforcement personnel, offers immediate therapeutic response for mental illness and substance abuse crises in Sarpy County. ● The Jefferson House Children’s Shelter and Group Home was expanded and renovated thanks to the Keep our Kids at Home Capital Campaign, opening up areas for the children to have more privacy as well as increasing space for on-site services and parent visits.

2009 – In response to the State of Nebraska’s move to privatize child welfare services, Heartland Family Service formed a new non-profit corporation, the Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC), with four other service providers. NFC became one of five lead agencies in Nebraska’s child welfare reform. HFS provides child welfare services to NFC families through our Omaha Children’s Emergency Shelter, Home-Based Services, Youth Links and Tracker Services. Jefferson House Children’s Shelter and Group Home provides services to the Eastern Area. ● Family Works, the residential treatment facility for addicted mothers with children that was launched in Omaha in 2007, was replicated in Council Bluffs. ● The Ruth K. Solomon Girls Center summer program was hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, providing more space to increase membership as well as parishioner support to the north Omaha girls’ center. ● Homeless programs continued to grow with the addition of Homeless Prevention and Rapid ReHousing programs in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie Counties. ● Peter Tulipana, president and CEO of Heartland Family Service for 22 years, resigned to pursue other interests. John Jeanetta was hired as the new president and CEO.

2010 - Over the past several years Heartland Family Service added several more programs in early childhood education, juvenile crime and homelessness. The program structure was reorganized into eight service categories: Addictions, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Early Childhood Development, Juvenile Delinquency, Mental Health, Community Services and Centers and Poverty & Homelessness. ● Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones (HALO) is accepted by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) as worthy of national recognition and distribution. NREPP is a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), whose mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

2011 - Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones (HALO) program celebrated 20 years! ● Our Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program provides community-based care and treatment for individuals who are challenged by chronic mental illness.  ● We developed an Integrated Health Home component to help clients manage their physical health along with their mental health.  ●  Baby TALK is a new educational program for low-income families, designed to positively impact child development and nurture healthy parent/child relationships during the critical early years. This program further enhances our growing array of Early Childhood Development services for children birth to age 5.   ● Our Tracker Services program accepted a contract to provide interim services in Iowa after Uta Halee Girls Village closed.  Twenty-six “Trackers” monitor the activities and responsibilities of youth on probation or parole to ensure that they comply with their court requirements.

2012 - Our Ways to Work program was honored with two awards for leadership and excellence in program performance by the national Ways to Work National.  ●  The Tracker Program was awarded the contract to continue programming in Iowa.  ●  Our partnership in area Prevention Coalitions grew with the addition of PMP – Taking Action Against Substance Abuse,  LiveWise Coalition, the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) and the Tobacco Free Sarpy. Heartland Family Service provides facility and staff support to these community coalitions, to prevent the root causes of the issues they address.

2013 – Heartland Family Service was awarded a three-year, $1.5M grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and implement Better Together, a family-centered substance abuse treatment program for families involved with the child welfare system. ● The Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded Heartland Family Service a $625,000 grant to support the PMP Taking Action Against Substance Abuse coalition and their efforts to reduce youth substance use and abuse as the fiscal agent and coordinating entity. ● Our Omaha Children’s Emergency Shelter temporarily closed in September. Thanks to substantial progress in decreasing the number of children needing emergency placement, we were able to redistribute resources to serve children and families where the needs are greatest. ● Metro Home BASE was implemented in March to improve the efficiency of the community’s homeless response system by providing coordinated access to services and housing resources. ● At the request of Bellevue Public Schools, Heartland Family Service began providing group counseling to middle school students in need.