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Janet McPeek


The Learning Center

903 E. Drahner Rd
Oxford, Michigan 48371
Janet McPeek brings her extensive work as a psychologist, and a passion for changing outcomes for vulnerable kids, to her position leading Crossroads for Youth and its many youth programs. Educating the public and promoting the value of each at-risk young person is the focus that drives her to study, modify, and improve Crossroads initiatives. 
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Crossoads for Youth Director Janet McPeek: My first thoughts are all of the classes and workshops and leadership training I’ve had over the years. I have tried to evolve as a leader and to be aware of my strengths and weaknesses. The reality is that it takes constant effort and self-awareness, as well as a willingness to listen to feedback, to grow, and be relevant as a leader over time. The two characteristics of leadership are not noticed very often. That is the most difficult and lonely part of my job. The leader is ultimately responsible for everything that happens and that leader must own each problem.
My husband once gave me a card that I keep in my office. It contains this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag -- you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.”
There are too many lost opportunities for kids to play, dream, grow and develop at their own rate.

What is your dream for kids?
My dream is simple: that every child is able to just be a kid.
Life has become so complicated. Today’s kids worry about school shootings, about whether there will be jobs when they graduate, about how to say no to the easy availability of drugs, alcohol and so much more. They have too little unstructured time. There are too many lost opportunities for kids to play, dream, grow and develop at their own rate.
We try very hard to give them age-appropriate experiences that include an element of fun. Realistically, it would be that every child who needs help is able to receive what he or she needs at the time it is needed.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
A significant challenge in the social sector is overcoming the stigma that is often associated with the populations we serve.
As a psychologist, I understand the reasons that we naturally tend to label and categorize people, regardless of whether it is a disability or being economically disadvantaged or any other segment of the population needing and benefitting from services provided through the social sector.
However, as an administrator of an agency whose mission is to serve high-risk children and teens (including court-placed kids) I see things from a different perspective. One of the biggest obstacles that we must overcome as an organization, and more important, one that faces the kids we serve, is public perception that kids need these services because they are bad kids or that they come from poor parenting. In most cases, that’s not true; in every case it is much more complicated than a label or a judgment.
A tremendous help to social sector work would be to have all forms of media make avenues available to powerfully tell the stories and to help broaden the public’s perception and understanding of the people who need the services in this sector. Connecting human faces to their needs makes all the difference.
At Crossroads for Youth, we address this area in a variety of ways. For example, we give kids opportunities to do things like volunteer at our golf outing. It’s great for them because they meet new people and they are exposed to a wonderful setting. The experience solidifies what we have been telling them: “You can present yourself well, and that is what people will see. You can make changes, and the things that happen to you will be positively impacted.”
It also has a powerful impact on the event’s sponsors and attendees. They enjoy these interactions, and they love the opportunity to appreciate the value that each of these kids possess. We are putting a series of messages on our Facebook page now, too -- tips to success that come straight from our kids. Efforts like this, especially if those in the social sector are given platforms and resources to spread the word, make a positive difference.
How do you know you’re making progress?
I measure progress by benchmarking national and local trends, looking at our services, and examining feedback from our clients. Also, by monitoring funding sources and assessing how well we are keeping up with what is needed. Our clinical team is always monitoring best practices and adjusting treatment accordingly. My role is to look at the bigger picture, to assess what is coming next, and to begin to prepare for our responses to change.
In the work we do, measurement and Continuous Quality Improvement [a process of creating an environment where management and their staffers work to create continuous quality improvement] is ongoing. This data helps us measure our
We have a model that provides an environment where kids can heal, where they can focus on how to use their inherent skills and the skills they learn here to make positive changes.
successes and to make necessary changes. The other key to measuring success is to compare how we are managing industry changes. The landscape has changed very quickly over the past few years -- the need for residential services is decreasing as demand for day treatment and community-based services is increasing.
Everything that happens in the real world impacts the population that we serve and the type of services required for effective outcomes.
What are you most proud of?
I am incredibly proud of our treatment programs. We have a model that provides an environment where kids can heal, where they can focus on how to use their inherent skills and the skills they learn here to make positive changes. We truly believe in giving kids a chance -- and that includes their family systems whenever possible. We recently went through reaccreditation; it was so good to hear an outside body say that our referral sources, our staff, the kids we serve, and their parents all shared a common theme. We do what we promise to do and we care.
I am also proud of our board of directors, our donors, and our supporters. It takes stamina, a caring and generous heart, and a willingness to learn about complex problems to be a part of this. 
Reflecting on your career, what would you say was your greatest professional learning experience?
I think it was the time I spent working contractually in a community mental health setting in Southwest Detroit, while simultaneously doing some work with the Neighborhood Family Resource Centers that were funded by the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University.
Through those experiences, I learned the resiliency of people when they are given an opportunity. I saw the challenges in finding solutions to poverty, crime, educational disadvantage, and other social problems. I had to tell parents with a family history of mental illness that their son or daughter displayed signs of an emerging mood disorder. I worked with a mother whose child died as the victim of an accidental gunshot. I saw the struggles of teenaged moms and the fathers of their children. These experiences have stayed with me, and they have kept me grounded. 
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Program Profile


  • Crossroads for Youth
    Believing all youth are at risk, Crossroads for Youth strengthens families and youth with skills and tools so they become valued contributors in their communities.


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