West Michigan

Questions & Answers

Empowered Kids Q & A

Below are some of the most common Questions & Answers.  If you have additional questions, please contact us by clicking HERE.

Please start by filling out the request form.  Please note that there is a waiting list as we have 100’s of kids waiting.  Don’t be discouraged there are 2 main things that would allow us to train up and send an Empowered Kids to your school.  Please give Deb Yonkers a call (231)260-0193.  

No, we don’t prescribe medication. We  help the child become more confident in who they are and their unique gifts.  Empowered kids coaches equips them with life changing skills that teach them how to deal with life’s hurts and unwanted changes. 

Times are very limited at this time but please contact your school office ir give us a call directly at (231)260-0193.

an amazing child
beautiful on the inside and out.
a friend to those that are nice / respect me for who I am.
not made to carry my hurts or those of others. I choose to let go.
able to all things I believe I can do.
free from all fear.
an overcomer.
a treasure.

Here are stats and facts regarding questions often asked about Empowered Kids.

Quantitative Facts:

Total Number of students seen in the school is over 65, over 3 semesters, 1 day a week each in 2 schools at Oakridge Public Schools.

Additionally,over the last 8 years, students have been seen in our office from 7schools in Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Oceana counties.  Over 75 Students seen in over 700 sessions of care.

Several parents and care givers have also received care so they can better help their child.

What problem does Empowered Kids solve for our community, students, schools and families?

The Empowered Kids materials were created to meet a need to care for the whole child.  There are many groups working to find a proven resilience program in response to the overwhelming life long issues identified in the ACE’s.   There was an extensive research project *SUPERU, Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, that speaks to the evidence regarding the cure for ACE’s that make or build resilience in children.  The SUPERU answers the following two research questions:

  1. How many at risk families go on to achieve positive education and employment outcomes?
  2. What are the key factors that influence the achievement of those positive outcomes?

Empowered Kids’ program is validated as a necessary process to help students not just survive but to also become better learners.  Students need to know their identity, purpose for living, the truth about their living circumstances, giving them hope that there is much more to life.  Hope defers suicidal tendencies, depression, anxiety and so much more.

Resilience is found or built when these 5 conditions are present:

  1. Relationships with others with similar experiences. Healthy small groups, family.            Having a healthy place to belong.  Safe and validated. 
  2. Received love and hospitality from community partnerships. This then builds trust, confidence, self-worth and self-esteem.   Valued and informed.  Identity and Purpose.
  3. Unity with others that shared similar experiences. Allows them to build authenticity and trust.    Hearing how others became survivors and contributors.  Purpose.
  4. Spirituality as part of their journey brings healing, rehabilitation and achievement. Hope and Truth.
  5. Empowerment, inspired and motivated to make a difference for themselves and others that may have had similar experiences. To give back or serve their community.  Hope and Truth.

Qualitative outcomes:

            76%   of the students seen by Empowered Kidsimproved in 5 educational areas:  Grades, Participation, Social, Attendance, Attentiveness

            48%   of students seen by Empowered Kids reported improvement in 6 areas of depression:  Depression, Anger, Fear, Lonely, Negative thoughts/actions, Believing their Bad

The impact of the Empowered Kids program is evidence based.  Results are tracked using:

  • BDS – Becks Depression Scale
  • 3-Empowered Kids School Check-In forms: administration, teacher and parent survey forms     
  • Creative Intervention for Trouble Children & Youth Surveys by Linda Lowenstein. This is not a proven scale.  It does open up communication with the students so they find a place to share their pain and struggles.
  • Resilience and Hope:  BHS – Becks Hopelessness Scale along with Resilience Questionnaires.
  • ACEs Survey of 10 questions:  Here is a glimpse of the ACEs reported in our students in grades 4th-6th.  Remember, an ACE is an Adverse Childhood Experience from the child’s life, which in many ways the children can’t change or run from.  If you are not familiar with the survey see the attached addendum.

4th-6th Grade Average ACEs Score



 Musk. %       Nat. %

0 ACEs


25.9%       40.7%



   18.7%       23.6%

2 ACEs


   13.5%       13.3%

3 ACEs


   10.3%         8.1%

4+ ACEs


   31.4%       14.3%

6+ ACEs


   15.8%         N/A

ALERT:  Here is a glimpse at the long-term effects of these students not receiving resilience care, Empowered Kids care, as children.  HANG ON! The results are scary.   As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems.  With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious.  The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390%; hepatitis, 240%; depression 460 percent; attempted suicide 1220%. 

Is this a faith based program?

Empowered Kids is a program designed specifically for use in public schools where the students can easily access support for their life’s hurts and struggles.  Therefore, it is not a faith-based program that proselytize.   Students learn hope, good virtues, positive statements and how to live the truth in their choices while finding hope that leads them into a positive future.

Do you bill insurance? 

No, the cost to run the program is much lower than care from psychologists or counselors.  Their costs run around $150+ per hour.  One of our teams can see students, 5 days a week for a year for only $35,000 a year.  The team has a few paid Empowered Kids Encouragers and a small administration team; the rest are volunteers.

Our sustainable funding sources are:

  • Donors: Private, Corporations, Foundations, Churches, PEO, Clubs, Ottawa Area Gifted Affiliate Program
  • Federal and State Grants
  • Events: Banquet, Art Classes, Speaking Engagements, Equine events, Day Camps and Fund Raisers like
  • Unity Christian Music Festival
  • Day Camps:    1 Camp had 26 Students from 7 area schools. Students were k-9th grade.
  • Long Term:  Horse Ranch with indoor riding for year around care and income from additional equine services.  Equine trail riders fun days with special techniques and obstacle courses.

Are schools dedicating any funding for the services provided during school hours? 

No, at this point school partners must apply for their own funding.  The schools don’t have any extra funds available.

Thank you,

Debra Yonkers, Executive Director and Author

Empowered Kids

231-260-0193; fax 231-744-5110
2735 E Apple Ave., Suite C
Muskegon, MI  49442