Psychiatric Residential Treatment

A note of pain

A note of pain

“Kids don’t really think about suicide, do they?” or “Kids just want attention, they can’t really want to die.” Even with all the media coverage of children’s mental health, I'm still asked questions like these.…

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Why me?

Why me?

I have shared before in these messages about our Chaplain, Rev. Rick Jones. Chaplain Rick has been with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for 11 years. He is the best person ever to be a Chaplain at a place for hurting children. He is strong in his faith, compassionate, and relatable. The children love him.…

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Not an athlete

Not an athlete

I am not an athlete.   Oh, I work out. That’s not the same as being an athlete. An athlete has grace, stamina, field awareness, and coordination. Those I don’t have. I can lift heavy things, but that’s about as far as it goes.…

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Nagging

Nagging

I don’t want to nag you… but you really need a will. If you don’t have one, the state has one for you. It’s called “probate,” and it’s a slow and painful process that ignores any wishes you may have had for whatever you left behind.…

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God Wink

God Wink

Karen, a woman I work with, uses a term I love—“God wink.” I don’t know for sure how she would define it, but when she says it, I imagine God with a smile, nodding just a little and tipping a hat. A gesture of “I see you. Well done.”…

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Reading upside down

Reading upside down

On August 3rd, I celebrated my eighth Ranchiversary! I came to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in 2015 after spending over 22 years at another human service organization. Before that I worked in the corporate world and I’ve also done some university teaching in communications and business.…

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"Just a side gig"

"Just a side gig"

I am frequently amazed by the people who choose to work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. They are a compassionate, courageous bunch.   One such person is Jan. Jan came to the Ranch looking for a very part-time experience to augment her corporate banking job. She had plenty of work in her “real” job but was looking to find a way to impact kids and families in a more hands-on way. We are very grateful she found us.…

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Fingerprints on a cross

Fingerprints on a cross

I have a new cross in my office.   It is made of bigger than normal popsicle sticks… I think they are called “craft sticks.” The vertical stick has seven pink fingerprints in a row, covering the length of the stick. The horizontal stick is painted a bright pink with random geometric shapes. It’s a little off-center, but not too bad. Overall, you get the definite impression it was made by a child. On the back, printed in felt tip marker, it says, “I CAN, through Him.”…

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Lapels go on the outside!

Lapels go on the outside!

At the end of the school year, I was on our Bismarck campus for board meetings. In between meetings, I was walking through the school when I heard my name from one of the classrooms. I stuck my head in the door, the teacher nodded, and a trim boy in a suit and tie came into the hall and gave me a hug.…

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"No-Limits People"

"No-Limits People"

I had dinner a while back with some people like you.   Well, I guess I don’t know if they are really like you, but you do have some things in common. You care about the kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. You choose to believe these hurting kids have value, can heal, and are all God’s children.…

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Quoting Steven

Quoting Steven

Jeremiah* yells a lot. He deserves to. Jeremiah came to us with a history of horrendous, unspeakable trauma at the hands of his biological parents. He was too little to do anything to protect himself except cry and yell.…

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Watching from inside

Watching from inside

My 94-year-old mother-in-law hasn’t led an easy life. She had nine children before she was 30 years old. She and my father-in-law built a small dairy farm on a piece of land that no one else really wanted. She worked “off the farm” for many years to bring in some much-needed income and to ensure the family had health insurance.…

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POTS on top of everything else

POTS on top of everything else

I was reading information on a child that was coming into care at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. One of the notes was to notify nursing, and all staff, that this child had POTS. I didn’t know what POTS was. So, I looked it up.…

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I just sold a warehouse

I just sold a warehouse

I just sold a warehouse. Actually, I didn’t, but Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch did. In the Fargo, ND Industrial Park, right off I-29. Great location. The remarkable people who came before me and built a loving place for children to heal and thrive, knew this place had to survive for generations. They knew that there would not be, in this world, an end to the need.…

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Wisdom from a Budding Astrophysicist

Wisdom from a Budding Astrophysicist

This is the season of graduations, and that is true at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch as well. Our on-site school, Dakota Memorial School, celebrates our graduates in style! Most of the children who come to the Ranch return to their home school districts when they leave our care. Some continue their education here through graduation. Others come here only for Day School, never being in residential care. Each one works incredibly hard to graduate. They are smart, but most learn differently than other schools teach. Here they can find success.…

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Crazy Red Coat

Crazy Red Coat

I bought a really crazy red coat. People donate wonderful things to the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Stores. The Thrift Stores have a two-pronged purpose. First and foremost, each year the thrift stores generate income for Ranch programs which provide hope and healing for troubled, complicated, and amazing kids.…

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Two Hugs

Two Hugs

He just about knocked me over. I was going into the front door of our school on our Bismarck Campus and struggling to get my keys organized when a strong, athletic 15-year-old body slammed into my side and wrapped me in a bear hug. In high heels and a heavy winter coat, I almost lost my balance, much less my breath.…

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We All Have a Story

We All Have a Story

Everyone has a story. That is the mantra that we repeat at the Ranch. Every child, parent, staff person comes with their own history. What came before does not define their future, but it certainly does inform their future. The trauma-informed care at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is summarized as, "We don't ask what is wrong with a child, we ask what happened to the child."…

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Love and Five Friends

Love and Five Friends

Dakota Memorial School teachers and staff have specialized training in teaching children who have experienced significant trauma. I am always amazed at the ability of these wonderful people to teach very rigorous curriculums, the same requirements as any accredited school district, to students who have been largely labeled as “unteachable.”…

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Can there ever be too many ways to pray?

Can there ever be too many ways to pray?

I am always happy to find a good prayer. I know I can just talk to God. The Holy Spirit will help me. Even sitting in silence with Him is powerful. Or, using the Lord’s Prayer is always an option! And there are lots of prayers created over time to “fall back on.”…

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Lava lamp and jellyfish

Lava lamp and jellyfish

Karen Engelter is the Executive Assistant who works with me and tries desperately to keep me in the right place at the right time. She is fearless and kind and approachable and many of the children at the Ranch seek her out. She looks each child in the eye and sees a hero. They trust her.…

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Capital Electric Cooperative Supports Safety Upgrades at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Capital Electric Cooperative Supports Safety Upgrades at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch received $2,000 from Capital Electric Cooperative to support safety upgrades on its Bismarck campus. Specifically, funds will be used to update the fire alarm system.…

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"Where did you grow up, Joy?"

"Where did you grow up, Joy?"

“Where did you grow up, Joy?” The question came from a 13-year-old boy I was talking with on our Minot Campus. Really cute child. Curly, mop-like hair. Eyes that sparkle. He runs away from wherever he is. There is a lot to the “why” he does that. That’s another story.…

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Simply remove clip

Simply remove clip

Marcia Bartok, VP of Education and Superintendent of our on-campus school is a lifelong learner. She is an avid curator of knowledge about brain development, self-care, leadership, and of course, education, and shares articles of particular interest when she comes across them.…

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A letter to his teacher.

A letter to his teacher.

When I met Clay* six years ago, he gave me a tour of his classroom at Dakota Memorial School on the Minot Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch campus. Because of his autism and other challenges, his movements were jerky and he made no eye contact. His words came out in a flat, staccato pattern. He showed me the baby chicks, where he sat when the teacher read, and a fireplace made out of construction paper next to which he liked to put his work table.…

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