psychiatric residential treatment

Questions and Hope

Questions and Hope

My day started with two emails back-to-back.   The first was about “Jenn” who arrived at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch this morning. She’s only 12 years old. Her case manager said in the email, “She is pretty quiet and reserved today but also had to wake up at 5 a.m. for the drive here so she may just be tired. She told me she loves to paint and do arts and crafts in her free time. She did say she prefers to work with female staff but is willing to try to work with male staff. Make sure to say hello and introduce yourself!”…

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Crushing it

Crushing it

We have a lovely 12-year-old girl in our care at the Ranch. She is kind and thoughtful and the first to step up and help. She is smart. She has eyes as dark as coal and beautiful, long reddish-brown hair. She has a loud laugh that you don't expect to come out of such a petite person.…

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Conferences and a Candy Drawer

Conferences and a Candy Drawer

Children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch live in a wide array of home situations. So, when we have "Parent Teacher Conferences" at our on-site Dakota Memorial Schools, we mean that we meet with the people who are in the parent role for the child—adoptive parents, biological parents, foster parents, guardians, grandparents, or other kin.…

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75% Fear

75% Fear

The OnBoarding Coordinator on our Fargo Campus has been with us for a year and a half but comes to us with deep experience working with traumatized youth. She is buoyant and energetic and a super trainer. She is just the person we want teaching new Ranchers how to connect with and help the children at the Ranch heal. She believes in the potential of every child... and she shows it.…

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Condemnation

Condemnation

It is hard to read some of the words used to describe the children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. These children are brave trauma survivors who have done the best they could in their situations. Abused, neglected, troubled, abandoned, and at-risk are the nice words used, and even those are difficult to hear.…

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He is happy

He is happy

An exceptional component of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is Dakota Memorial School. Dakota Memorial is a fully accredited school district located on the three campuses of the Ranch. The schools are very special, operating on a platform of trauma-informed, trauma-sensitive learning. Teachers are uniquely trained, as are support staff, para-professionals, and all involved, to work with the children who come to us for care.…

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Say what?

Say what?

Evan is a boisterous 14-year-old who came to the Ranch in early 2023. He is always the first to talk, whether he’s met you before or not. There is never silence when you are around him… he fills it with humming or a steady flow of commentary. His dark curls bounce, and his sparkling eyes move as he walks. He has a “strut” that makes him look much bigger than he is. He fills space by being who he is.…

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An "extra" day

An "extra" day

I can tell you with great confidence that no child wants to come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.   Sure, some children find relief in coming to the Ranch. They are away from the stressors and traumas that they have lived. They are not hungry, have their own beds, and are surrounded by people who care and are trained to help them heal.…

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Eighteen Times Great

Eighteen Times Great

“Great” is not a word I often read in Clinical Case Review notes at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.   The kids who come to the Ranch have multiple traumas, behavior, and psychiatric issues, and much to do to heal. More commonly, in Case Review notes, I read “Much Improved,” “Working,” or “Identifying Strengths.” We work very hard to help children heal, develop skills, learn to succeed, and build trusting relationships.…

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After Easter

After Easter

Through your help and God’s love, we also see new lives and new beginnings at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. I think of them as “mini-Easters.” Children have an opportunity to heal from the traumas of their past. They can begin to plot a new future. They can move from surviving to thriving. They can find and become their best selves.…

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Jesus' touch

Jesus' touch

It is very common for a child at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to ask staff to brush, braid, or “fix” their hair. Sometimes, a child who can never sit still will quietly pass 30 minutes or more while having their hair brushed.   When a child is at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we follow strict boundaries about appropriate touch. A staff person may side-hug a child, high-five, tuck them in, address minor “owies,” put a comforting hand on a shoulder or hand, brush their hair. This is a place of care and healing. It is also a professional environment for treatment.…

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Helping old ladies

Helping old ladies

Sometimes, the best way to tell a story is to use someone else’s words.   Below are email excerpts (to maintain confidentiality) from an outpatient therapist who referred a precious, challenging, traumatized boy to treatment at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. The therapist wrote the note to the boy’s treatment team about three weeks after he completed treatment at the Ranch.…

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Workout

Workout

“Hey, it’s Joy Ryan.”   That’s the first thing I heard when I walked into my local YMCA to work out on Sunday.   People don’t normally yell my name in public places. Working at a non-profit children’s treatment center is not a high-profile job. And at my core, I am not a high-profile type of person.…

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Hangry

Hangry

“I’m hangry!” she said to her therapist. And the therapist celebrated! So, here’s the rest of the story. First, I’ve raised three kids to adulthood. One thing I learned is that teenagers eat a lot. All the time. They are hungry shortly after a full meal. They are hungry before and after sports, church, and their favorite TV show. They are growing, their bodies are changing, and they are active.…

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You remind me of...

You remind me of...

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and had an immediate aversion to them? The poor person has not even said their name, and you are silently plotting a way to exit? Or, you meet someone, and afterward, you turn to a friend and say, “I don’t think I did anything wrong, but I get the distinct feeling she just doesn’t like me. I don’t know what that’s about.”…

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Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

I had a lot of Little Golden Books when I was little. My parents allotted a special, low shelf in the living room for what I called “my library.” I even tried to number them on their skinny spines as I’d seen numbers on the books at the big library. Those books are now in my family room in my mother’s old traveling suitcase. My grandkids love their simple stories and gentle illustrations.…

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With me...

With me...

How would you finish this sentence? When I am happy, I would appreciate it if you…   Once children have some time to acclimate and begin to feel comfortable at the Ranch, we sit down with them and complete the “Five Love Languages Profile Quiz” and a worksheet titled, “All About [INSERT NAME].” The worksheet gathers information about the child’s favorite colors and favorite snacks, the three most important things we should know about them, and more.…

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Nurse wisdom

Nurse wisdom

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch has been helping children and families succeed in the name of Christ since 1952.   Literally, thousands of really good people have spent all or part of their careers at the Ranch. Whether as teachers or treatment specialists, maintenance people or nurses, Chaplains or accountants, all have witnessed the immense work it takes for the precious children in our care to overcome trauma. It also takes a lot of knowledge about mental health and brain development and the impact of trauma.…

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Sooooo hungry

Sooooo hungry

In a recent issue of Ranch Voice, the feature article was about group treatment at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. There are lots of solid, evidence-based treatment reasons for doing certain types of therapeutic work in groups.   One of those reasons is that group members help hold each other accountable to the truth—here is just one example.…

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I'll stay on the couch

I'll stay on the couch

Sometimes, working at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch can be tough.   These kids have endured so much. They have experienced trauma and/or the ravages of mental illness – which is certainly a trauma in itself. They have developed behaviors and coping skills that are not healthy or good for them or others—behaviors and coping skills that have allowed them to survive.…

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It's not about the music

It's not about the music

He was standing in the corner in the hallway of the school, crying really hard, with a Treatment Specialist by his side.    I was confused. I had just seen this child in our chapel services at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, and he was amazing. He had practiced with the adult who was leading the music and had played guitar and sang beautifully.…

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Go touch grass

Go touch grass

Erinn Dosch is a great communicator. She writes grants and manages website and social media activity at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. She is a voracious reader, funny and smart, and a “word collector.” You know, she loves a turn of phrase or clever pun. She’s a really good Rancher.…

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Nasolabial folds

Nasolabial folds

Deep nasolabial folds are part of my family’s genetic profile. My mom and dad both had prominent ones, as do my siblings.   They’re those wrinkles that run from the sides of your nose to the corners of your mouth. I am pretty sure they’ve always been there, but with the march of Father Time, mine are reaching new depths. Not yet Grand Canyon status, but perhaps the Columbia Gorge.…

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Seeing the real

Seeing the real

Many kids come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch wearing their toughest attitudes and with challenging behaviors. They have worked so hard to survive their trauma and trauma environments that they have lost touch with their own core. They struggle to see their true selves.…

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Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

I love Christmas trees. I think they are a bold proclamation that we are celebrating the birth of our Lord. I think of them as a really big Birthday candle! You just can’t hide the fact that you’re celebrating Jesus' birth when you have a 4 or 6 or 8-foot reminder in the middle of your house.…

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