At Cal Farley’s, we believe there are six areas of need that must be addressed in order to free individuals to reach their God-given potential. We nurture these qualities of life in our leaders, team members and, of course, the children and families we serve. Together, they constitute the Cal Farley’s Model of Leadership & Service.
At the heart of every activity offered at Cal Farley’s organization is safety. Our first priority is ensuring our youth feel safe within the organization’s programs and services.
A sense of safety is vital to a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential. As long as a child’s brain determines he or she is unsafe and needs protection from harm, higher levels of functioning, such as logical and rational thinking, are beyond reach.
Based on our knowledge of neurodevelopment, relational health and the combined experiences of our staff and residents, Cal Farley’s strives to create an atmosphere of safety through appropriate levels of supervision and an environment that meets needs and provides positive opportunities for instruction.
The ability to connect with another person in an emotionally healthy and personal way is the key to belonging. Every child longs to belong and have meaningful connections with other people. As humans, we create connections with others through expressing needs and having those needs consistently met. These connections build positive experiences which establish our internal templates for relationships.
A sense of belonging increases a child’s confidence, which allows him or her to experience more successful social interactions, helps establish a support system to provide guidance and advice, fosters the ability to work with others to accomplish tasks, allows for compassion and increases a sense of security, allowing for exploration and adventure.
Often, children from difficult backgrounds identity with their failures rather than their achievements. Experiencing loss and powerlessness can lead to patterns of self-defeating behavior, leading them to eventually feel safer with failure than success. Helping children in such a state move to an identity of achievement is often frightening for them and frustrating for their loved ones. Cal Farley’s provides children with the foundational safety and encouragement to feel safe enough to establish new behaviors and a healthier identity. We offer children opportunities to achieve in areas in which they were previously unsuccessful, such as school, or in areas they have never tried before, like riding a horse.
Competence leads to achievement. Having peers and mentors who share similar interests and can provide valuable feedback equips our youth to make decisions to improve their skills in a given area and, by extension, give better shape and direction to their lives. This, in turn, provides them the ability to understand how their actions impact others and instills the confidence needed to take on new tasks.
For a child, living with chaos and unpredictability often creates a feeling of powerlessness or a “learned helplessness.” Helping children take personal responsibility so they can become active rather than passive participants in their own lives requires allowing them the space to make their own decisions — including both wise choices and mistakes — in a supportive, unconditionally accepting environment. By experiencing acceptance rather than rejection, an internalized sense of power can be developed.
A child who feels empowered knows the importance of being self-reliant and independent. He or she embraces opportunities to learn and will teach others. He or she learns from past mistakes in order to make better decisions in the future and develops better self-control.
A child who lives in an emotional state of self-preservation and fear feels insignificant, even irrelevant. Cal Farley’s believes every child is created by God for a purpose larger than themselves. Purpose, then, is a sense of contributing to a principle or cause greater than ourselves. In order to find this purpose, each individual must identify his or her personal skills, talents and strengths. This type of personal exploration can be difficult, but allows us to act and behave with intention and self-awareness.
Young people who attain a sense of purpose are able to develop compassion and sympathy. They respect cultural values and appreciate others. They are able to express empathy to directly or indirectly help others, and are able to see potential in others. They can provide guidance in helping them reach their own potential and are able to relate to others while maintaining a sense of self.