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A career of helping others

Jane Adams to retire from YSS

—Daily Freeman-Journal file photo
Jane Adams, director of YSS of Hamilton County, speaks at the ground breaking of the new Adele and Dean Bowden Youth and Family Clinic in April 2016. Adams has announced that she will retire Dec. 31.

Jane Adams, the director of YSS of Hamilton County, plans to retire at the end of this month, bringing to a close her nearly 50 years of work in behavioral health and addiction counseling.

Adams knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career based on helping others.

“People often ask me why I do this work and why I’ve stayed in this field for so long. By middle school, I knew about social work and counseling. I just knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said.

She earned a BA in secondary education from the University of Northern Iowa and has a master’s degree in counseling from University of Wisconsin-Stout. She’s also a certified alcohol and drug counselor.

She worked for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation for 11 years in the Des Moines and Fort Dodge offices, starting as a research assistant, later becoming a rehabilitation counselor and school consultant.

Adams was director of social and psychological services at Hamilton County Hospital for 11 years and later worked for for Community and Family Resources, treating clients who had both behavioral health and addiction issues.

She also worked in private practice for several years in Webster City, before joining YSS.

Adams has been with YSS of Hamilton County for the past 14 years, starting part-time by providing in-home services. For two years, she was a student assistance counselor at Ames High School and Middle School, where she provided addiction treatment to youths. She’s been the Webster City community-based center director for 12 years.

For Adams, the highlight of her career was the the building of the new Adele and Dean Bowden Youth and Family Clinic.

“It was just something that was so needed and it had been a goal for all of my professional life to have a permanent behavioral health clinic in Hamilton County,” she said. “And so working with YSS and all of the wonderful donors, community support and advisory board, we were able to build the clinic.”

Adams said the new clinic, which opened in 2016, allowed the agency to expand its staff and services.

“We were equipped to meet Hamilton County and Webster City’s needs for behavioral health services for many years to come.”

One of the biggest changes she’s seen in the counseling profession over the years have been evidence-based assessments and treatment plans.

“We’re able to fit a specific treatment to a specific problem. It’s more scientific but still keeps the human aspect in the process,” she said.

Adams admits that sometimes the work is difficult, especially in this year with the challenges of COVID-19. Many are suffering as the pandemic rages on, and social-distancing and isolation have become commonplace.

“Families have so many challenges in their lives and COVID has just added to that,” she said. “We’ve seen families under stress, sometimes jobs are cut, kids falling behind in learning — even though the schools are doing a wonderful job doing all they can.”

Adams said YSS of Hamilton County was fortunate to be able to quickly move all of its services to a virtual platform when the pandemic hit. The agency already offered telehealth services for psychiatry and medication management and have provided nearly all of its services without any real disruptions.

“Most of our youth and families have done well with virtual appointments,” she said.

Adams said she’s looking forward to what the future holds. After a little break, she hopes to be involved in the community, and maybe with counseling again.

“When COVID slows down, and there’s a vaccine, and things return to normal, I’ll find a way to give back to the community. Working with families, with kids and providing treatment has been a big part of my life,” she said.

And in those years of working with families, the successes have been gratifying.

“Every time I work with a youth or a family and they come to trust and let us into their lives, you get to see the positive changes that can happen. You see families heal and do well.

“That’s really what it’s all about for me. Nothing is more rewarding that working with families and seeing them prosper, grow and do well,” Adams said.

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