Services For Kids

"I don't need you."

"I don't need you."

Rev. Rick Jones, our Chaplain and Vice President of Spiritual Life, shares a daily devotion with those of us who work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Having grown up on a farm, one of his recent devotions really resonated with me so I wanted to share it with you. As my dad used to say, “Every living thing will respond to love.”…

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So Much Gratitude

So Much Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. The family I come from truly loved each other. My parents gave us an unshakeable foundation on which to build our lives. The family God blessed my husband and me with is a constant source of warmth. We have kind, good children. They have wonderful people in their lives, and the grandchildren…oh, the grandchildren. They could be a month’s worth of emails.…

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It's a God thing

It's a God thing

"It's a God thing." That's what several of my good friends say when there is an unexplained "coincidence" that sort of sets the world right. Little, quiet, daily miracles that may or may not be happenstance. But, since He is in charge of everything, we give Him the glory.…

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My three favorite moments

My three favorite moments

Each of the three campuses of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch has different traditions and events that have evolved over the years we’ve been helping kids and families. One of my favorites is the intermittent Talent Show held on the Minot Campus. It gives the kids and staff a chance to be brave and sing or dance or speak or share. It gives the kids one more way to move closer to finding their best selves.…

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Taking a first step

Taking a first step

When a child is new to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, the staff share a little about them so they are aware of possible conversations or situations that may trigger negative behaviors. We focus on their strengths and how we can give them every opportunity to see they can succeed and be their best selves.…

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Leave the worries to God

Leave the worries to God

I was recently visiting with a teenage boy who is in our care. He has been in some form of foster care his entire life. Some families have been good. Some of his families have been, in his words, “really, really wrong.” He gets mad sometimes, but most of the time he likes people. His favorite animals are dogs, and horses are next.…

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Flag Football and Healing

Flag Football and Healing

On this fall day, I look out my window to see Ranch kids playing flag football. The teams are co-ed and the kids appear to be enjoying a great deal of laughter. The gym teacher on the Fargo Ranch campus is a former Division I college football player. The kids listen to him, and they get great exercise.…

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Connecting All the Pieces

Connecting All the Pieces

In practice, Case Managers at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are connectors—the glue that holds everything together while a child is in treatment at the Ranch. They bring together the Ranch treatment team, the child and their family, and county or Department of Juvenile Justice caseworkers; to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction and that the children and their families have a voice in their treatment.…

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Not one-size-fits-all

Not one-size-fits-all

People often ask what makes the Ranch special. What do we do differently at the Ranch that helps kids heal? The truth is that there is not one answer to that question. We focus on every child individually and find ways to meet their specific needs. Our goal is to help our children heal and grow so they can become successful members of their families and communities—and we do that by working with them one-by-one to determine their strengths and challenges, and to find strategies that will work for them.…

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"My grandma is 103."

"My grandma is 103."

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch turned 70 years old in August. In 1952, a small church congregation outside of Mapleton, ND recognized the challenges faced by the children that had been “half-orphaned” by World War II. (Like most states, North Dakota had many casualties and lasting disabilities among its male population.).…

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Food Service Angel

Food Service Angel

“I don’t drink milk.” That’s the way the conversation between a new 10-year-old boy at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch and Sarah Streitz, one of our Food Service Angels, started.…

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Horses Everywhere

Horses Everywhere

"My horse, Teddy, taught me how to love him and love other people. Just like Teddy, people are going to be stubborn. You have to compromise with them. You gotta give in a little bit and take a little back. I've learned so much from Teddy." -Megan, former Ranch resident…

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The Hard Work of Going Home

The Hard Work of Going Home

One of the great challenges of the work we do at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is helping our children be successful when they leave our care. During treatment, we wrap children and their families in many services and supports. When a child completes treatment and goes home, the family must find these services in the community—not an easy task when they may have their own challenges and/or live in a rural area with few available services.…

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Wisdom Beyond Their Years

Wisdom Beyond Their Years

Many of the office doors in Bremer Hall (the central building on our Minot campus) have small 8" x 10" white boards hanging on them. These boards serve a variety of purposes. Some are used to list office hours. Some give location info like, "I'm in the barn with the kids until 3 p.m." Some ask everyone who passes to vote on an important life question, "Would you rather be 10 feet tall or 10 inches tall?" (If you're curious, 10 feet tall won by a landslide.)…

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"I will pray for you."

"I will pray for you."

One of our kids is going home today. Of course, I am thrilled. We are here to “help at-risk kids and their families succeed in the name of Christ.” Part of succeeding is being able to live with a family. No child should grow up at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch…

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Like, when is your birthday?

Like, when is your birthday?

“How old are you? Like, when’s your birthday?” I had a chance to sit on the grass next to a circle of kids on one of our campuses. They were waiting for a tardy ice cream truck, and they were so patient. Their topic of conversation was age.…

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"The Dunk"

"The Dunk"

One of the great challenges of being a trauma survivor is hypervigilance, which means being overly alert to danger. For children at the Ranch who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events, nothing in life has been predictable and most surprises have caused pain. As a result, their senses and emotions are always on high alert.…

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Home.

Home.

With all she has been through, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a kind of home to her. It is a place where people think about her, pray for her, cheer for her, and believe in her. There may be no other place that has met that measure for her. My prayer is that she and her fiancé’ can create a home for and with each other.…

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Healing minds, bodies, and spirits

Healing minds, bodies, and spirits

Every child experiences adversity. During a "typical childhood," a child will experience 3 or 4 ACES. When adversity is prolonged or extreme or consists of multiple types of adversity, those events begin to affect brain development and behavioral response.…

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Yes. That was the Olympic anthem you heard!

Yes. That was the Olympic anthem you heard!

For the last several years, our Minot Wellness and Spiritual Life staff have partnered to create a week-long “Ranch Olympics” during the month of August. The entire campus, kids, and staff, find ways to participate and engage. Very few of the children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have participated in organized sports. The trauma and chaos they have faced have made it hard for them to be "joiners."…

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A matter of skill, not will.

A matter of skill, not will.

Dr. Hannah Baczynski, Dakota Family Services Psychologist, showed this video in a staff training she did on understanding children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Her training centered around debunking myths about children with ADHD, one of the greatest ones being they could quit their behaviors if they just tried hard enough. With most of the children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch having some level of ADHD or a related diagnosis, it is important we understand their reality.…

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A baptism, a dog, and friendship

A baptism, a dog, and friendship

On Monday of this week, I was in the nutrition center with Sydney when one of our girls came up. She had been one of the first girls Sydney had interacted with and had seen Sydney learn, while she herself was healing. They have a special friendship.…

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How many sisters?

How many sisters?

Yesterday at lunch I sat down next to a child I hadn’t met as he has only been with us for five days. He’s a handsome child—dark eyes, dark hair, those kinds of gangly limbs kids get in their teenage years. He looked at me through too-long bangs.…

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Bingo Night!

Bingo Night!

When I first came to the Ranch and learned this, it surprised me. Here are kids with all different kinds of trauma-related behaviors. Some have attention deficit issues, others deal with anger or noise triggers, and others are uncomfortable in groups. They may be depressed or anxious or struggle with bipolar or schizophrenia diagnoses. They have seen much in their young lives. Yet, they like old, boring, low-tech Bingo.…

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Four braided dog toys

Four braided dog toys

Anyone who has worked in any kind of workplace has been approached to purchase “stuff” from the children of co-workers. Boy Scout popcorn, Girl Scout cookies, wrapping paper, butter braids, and raffle tickets. You name it, I’ve bought it. Actually, one of my life rules is, “Buy what kids are selling.”…

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