Winnie Sisu

Sexually Exploited Youth Program


Winnie Sisu provides therapeutic supportive housing to sexually exploited and/or trafficked females, ages sixteen to eighteen. With a focus on access to trauma-informed care and utilizing a client-centered approach, residents receive services tailored to their individual needs and treatment goals. Individual treatment plans, along with general programming expectations are structured to develop the attitude, self-concept, and skills needed for self-sufficiency and to prepare the youth for independent living. Program components include counseling services for residents and their families; job services to help residents prepare for or secure employment; living skills training to help residents prepare for independent living; and supportive services including assistance in locating housing, budgeting, meal preparation, and other services as identified to improve the resident’s ability to live independently. At the completion of the program residents will have gained the skills necessary for a successful transition into independent living.

Winnie Sisu was named in memory of Winifred “Winnie” Lindbom who was a North Homes foster parent for many years. Winnie was an enrolled band member of the Leech Lake reservation and was raised in foster care as a young girl. When Winnie and her husband, Tom, retired they decided to become licensed foster care providers. Winnie had a strong desire to give back. She loved to work with the teenage girl age group. She shared her sense of humor, compassion and love for cooking and baking with the girls who came into their home. Winnie passed away from lung cancer in 2010. When North Homes opened the programs, the home was named in her memory to honor the work she did with youth.

Sisu is a Finnish term that is defined as: Extraordinary determination, courage, and resolution in the face of extreme adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to see beyond their present limitations and into what might be. Taking action against the odds and reaching beyond observed capabilities.


Winnie Sisu will have 6 beds open to females ages 16-18.

Statewide Safe Harbor Navigators:
Constant contact will occur between Navigators and Winnie Sisu staff. Youth referred by Safe Harbor Navigators will be screened by the Winnie Sisu Case Manager and/or Mental Health Professional using a Sexually Exploited Risk Assessment.

Youth may self-refer to Winnie Sisu. After completing the Sexually Exploited Youth Assessment, permission from the youth’s guardian will be confirmed for placement by the Winnie Sisu Case Manager and coordinated with counties and/or tribes to establish financial responsibility. If a guardian cannot be located or does not exist, the Case Manager will work with counties, tribes, and law enforcement to establish guardianship and financial responsibility. Once guardianship and placement authority are determined, the program will work with the assigned placement worker to ensure appropriate notification to the youth’s parent/guardian of the youth’s admission to the program and provide information on resident rights.

Law enforcement, schools, parents, hospitals, other community agencies:
These sources may make referrals via the 24-hour crisis line (No Wrong Door), or by contacting the Winnie Sisu Case Manager or a North Homes Safe Harbor Support Specialist.

Our mission is to provide a Community-Based Continuum of Quality Care to Children and Families.

Toll Free (888) 430-3055, Grand Rapids (218) 327-3000, Bemidji (218) 751-0282, Duluth (218) 733-3000, Grand Rapids Outpatient Building (218) 999-9908

Our offices are located in: Grand Rapids, Bemidji, Duluth and Deer River