At the Ranch, we provide two levels of residential treatment for children and adolescents—Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF) and Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP). In both programs, family* involvement is vital to a child's success in completing treatment and achieving long-term recovery. By providing family therapy, coaching, parenting education, open communication, and support, the Ranch helps families address their own issues—both with the child and in other areas. Our goal is not to help kids be really good at living in treatment, but to help them be successful in their home environment. Open communication and working with families throughout the treatment process leads to lasting recovery.
*"Family" or "parent" includes children's biological families, adoptive families, guardians, foster families, or "fictive kin," (non-biologically connected people who support and care for the child.
Children needing a high level of care are best cared for at one of our Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF) in Minot, Bismarck, or Fargo, ND. Our multi-disciplinary teams provide specialized programming and therapy for children with chronic psychiatric and behavioral health issues. In addition to basic living needs and psychiatric care, children in this program receive therapy, medical care, occupational therapy, an individualized education through Dakota Memorial School, wellness and recreational services, and robust spiritual life activities. They also have access to our Horse and Mini-bike programs.
Police officer David Carlson turned his life around at the Ranch. Now he is helping other kids do the same. As a Police Trust Officer, David works with at-risk kids in the community. And no one is better qualified. David is a former resident and staff member who worked at the Ranch for six years. He has a genuine understanding of what kids at the Ranch are going through. "I was in their shoes," David says. So I know how they feel. I can say, 'Hey, listen, you made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. You can move on from this.'"
Our Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP), located in Fargo and Minot, ND, provide a less acute level of care for children who need a safe place to live and supportive services. In addition to providing for children’s basic needs of food and shelter, the children have access to psychiatric care, therapy, recreational and wellness activities, occupational therapy, education at Dakota Memorial School, and spiritual life activities. Most of the children in the QRTP level of care have a history of trauma, abuse, and foster care placements.
A QRTP is perfect for children who are able to succeed in an environment less structured than that of the PRTF. In many cases, transitional services at the QRTP’s provide support for children as they transition back home and into the community. In other cases, our independent living program assists residents as they transition to adulthood.
In addition to a safe place to live with best-in-class psychiatric care, medical care, occupational therapy, and education, children in our residential programs have access to our Spiritual Life, Horse, and Mini-bike programs.
While most of the children living at the Ranch attend Dakota Memorial School, our on-campus school, some children attend their local public school.
Children at the Ranch hear the Gospel and learn of Christ's love for them through chapel services, spiritual life groups, individual mentoring with our Chaplain and Deaconesses, and daily interactions with Ranch employees. We bring Christ's presence to our work by showing up, being fully there, listening, abiding, completing, and surrounding our children with an atmosphere of faith. Our Spiritual Life Program allows our children to find an anchor in the storm. By understanding Christ’s message, they adopt a new set of values and ways to interact with the world that will help them succeed. While the Ranch's Spiritual Life program is rooted in Lutheranism, we promote principles of respect, acceptance, and character-building that are common to all faiths; and collaborate closely with hundreds of churches across the nation.
When kids have been traumatized by abuse, neglect, or abandonment, horse therapy (also called equine-assisted therapy) can help them open their hearts again.
Most Ranch children are here because they have been wounded by someone who was supposed to care for them and love them. To protect themselves, they shun physical and emotional closeness with other people. Because horses offer a pure, nonjudgmental relationship, our kids can often accept physical and emotional closeness from a horse. With their horse, they don’t have to worry about rejection or criticism. Developing a relationship with a horse gives our residents a chance to understand how trusting and opening their hearts can change their lives—and requires them to exercise patience, understanding, attention, forgiveness, and consistency; abilities they will find useful throughout their lives.
You might think putting at-risk kids and speedy mini-bikes together is a dangerous combination. But every summer, that's exactly what we do at the Ranch's Minot and Bismarck campus. Our GEAR Minibike Program (Getting Engaged and Responsible) puts kids together with caring adults and a mini-bike, teaching them how to ride safely and care for the bikes, then ride on the off-road trails. This unique program captures our kids' imagination and enthusiasm and harnesses it to promote positive change and growth. At the same time, it helps our kids develop positive relationships with staff, build their confidence, and hold them accountable for their decisions.