Before the establishment of the YES Home in 1981, there was nowhere for neglected children to be placed, except for jail. Children who had committed no crimes were being punished. While in jail, there was no home life, no school, and they could be thrown in with juvenile delinquents or other offenders. The federal government realized a difference between delinquents and status offenders.
Youth Encouragement Services (YES) is an alternative to placing juveniles in jail. Serving five counties, Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Ripley and Franklin, the YES Home provides family home-type settings for teenagers as an alternative to institutionalization. The plans for the YES Home began its program with one home, serving ten children, with a professionally trained couple as house parents. The YES Home was incorporated in 1978 after two other agencies which had set out to aid juvenile status offenders had failed. Youth began living at the YES Home in 1981.
The original Board of Directors of the YES Home were James Wismann, Helen Conrad, Frederick Becktold, Betty McLaughlin, Mary McElfrish, Lyndall Breeden, Monica Connolly, Georgia Krider, Ruth Heist, Barbara Helfrich, and Pamela, Betsy and Harry Zerbe. YES Home Board members originally proposed to construct a new building for a sheltered care center, and the cost of the new building was estimated at over $100,000. Since funds were short, YES discarded the new building idea. When the request was made for five acres of county land, Dearborn County Council became aware of YES's purposes and goals, and asked the organization to consider using part of the county home for the sheltered care center.
YES began to take a serious look at the county home, and found it needing renovations. With very little money and time running short, YES members went back to county commissioners and council and asked for assistance with the project. By the time YES decided to use the county home, the board of directors had changed. Officers were also elected in 1980. They were: Betty McLaughlin, president; Pat Krider, vice president; Stan Kess, secretary; and James Wismann, treasurer. Once the home was operational, the goal was that the shelter home not be a burden on taxpayers. They hoped to maintain the operation through donations, membership, drives, money paid through the court for the care of the juveniles, and through other fundraising projects.
The home originally operated in the 25 rooms on the first floor of the old county home on County Farm Road. The YES Home received a federal grant to conduct a study on whether it should renovate it's existing building, or construct a new housing facility. At this time, the existing house needed much exterior and interior renovations and maintenance. In 1998, it was decided that the YES Home would pursue a grant to renovate the century-old structure.
The YES Home found itself in the midst of a $1 million face lift, thanks to grants from the county and charitable foundations. The renovations included heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing, interior walls, ceiling, floors, woodwork, exterior windows, interior doors, elevator, new staircase, demolition, and other associated work. The historical appearance of the building was kept in tact throughout renovation. After several years of renovation, the YES Home unveiled its new look to the public at an open house on Sunday, May 4 of 2003. The improvements at the sprawling 18,000 square foot center included a major restoration of the upstairs into a comfortable and attractive living area to accommodate the children housed there.
Youth Encouragement Services, Inc. added to their name, "The James B. Wismann Home" in honor of Jim Wismann's long standing service and dedication to YES as a Board member and treasurer for twenty one years. YES Home director Cathy Piché and her husband, Philip, were the original house parents during the first seven years the home was in operation. They left the program for several years but returned to the facility in 1994 before eventually retiring in 2017.
After Cathy and Phil's retirement in 2017, the program coordinator Amy Phillips became the YES Home's new Director.