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It Became Clear: People Do Care

LSS Rssidential Services for Children & Youth

Being There, fall 2021


At 17, Madii was referred to LSS Canyon Hills Center in Spearfish. “When you come in, you come in with a file, and those files say a lot of things about you,” she says. “You begin to have a thought process where nobody cares.”

Madii struggled with significant trauma and strained family relationships which caused her to fall significantly behind in school. She wasn’t even sure if she would graduate. She had already been placed in the homes of many different family members and  foster homes.

Madii was referred to LSS to help get her back on track. “We are here to guide [residents],” says Allison Bensen, LSS therapist. “ We give them the tools and skills that are applicable to their long-term goals.”

It’s not easy to work on past trauma but Madii came into the program motivated. “Allison helped me with my trauma, and focusing on the positives in life,” she says.

Canyon Hills staff and teachers worked with Madii and her home school district to ensure her senior project was completed and remaining credits were fulfilled so that she could graduate.

“These kids come in very sad and hurting,” says Benson, “and they leave with optimism and hope.”

Madii is rightfully proud. “Everyone talked about how they could see my growth, and how proud they were of me. It was just very encouraging,” she says. “Still, when people tell me they are proud of me today, it makes me tear up, because I’d never felt that before.”

“They really care about you,” she continued. “They taught me that there is worth in my life, and people do care.”

After 14 months, Madii successfully completed her treatment at Canyon Hills. She returned home to her mom and graduated from high school. She gained the confidence and drive to invest in her future. Today, Madii is pursuing a career in cosmetology at a South Dakota vocational training program.

LSS is where life stories like Madii’s take shape.

LSS RESIDENTIAL SERVICES FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH provides 24-hour care for boys and girls ages 10 to 17. Canyon Hills Center in Spearfish and Summit Oaks Center in Sioux Falls are psychiatric residential treatment facilities that provide treatment for youth who have significant mental health, emotional and behavioral issues. They also provide treatment for youth who cannot function in their home environments and are disruptive in their schools and communities. LSS also operates New Beginnings Center in Aberdeen as a group care program.

Last year, 215 children and youth received care much like Madii through these centers, and another 379 children and their family members received counseling.

LSS Residential Services for Children & Youth operate through state and federal funding. Donor financial contributions are necessary to fill the gap in actual costs to operate the centers at full capacity. Financial support is needed every year, so that the children and youth of our state come to understand what became clear to Madii, “There is worth in my life and people do care.”